Character & Citizenship
Following a tumultuous year, how can educators develop inclusive and supportive campus climates? How might a focus on character traits, such as integrity, compassion, justice, and empathy, improve student learning and outcomes?
What approaches are schools taking to nurture these traits through experiential learning and classroom instruction?
Educators and experts addressed these and other questions during a May 4 session at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 National Seminar.
The participants were:
- Ashley Rogers Berner, Johns Hopkins University
- Arria Coburn, The Springfield (MA) Renaissance School
- Andrew Smarick, The Manhattan Institute
- Emily Richmond, Education Writers Association (Moderator)
The lesson today, class, is how to turn bipartisan legislation encouraging teaching of civics into an ideological food fight.
The legislation in question seemed noncontroversial at first, even boring. It would authorize $1 billion a year in grants to pay for more civics education. The goal was to better balance a test-driven K-12 education system that focuses heavily on math and reading with a subject — civics — that has gotten less attention and far less money in recent years.
Civics is critical, backers say, to maintaining a functioning democracy.
Teaching Respect and Tolerance in Tumultuous Times
What to know when reporting on character education
It won’t be easy, but American schools need to do more to instill civic and moral virtues in their students, three experts said at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 National Seminar.
“For millennia, people thought moral character development was part of education, but that seems to have been abandoned in the U.S. in the last 20 years,” said Andy Smarick, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
The Education Writers Association’s 74th National Seminar will focus on the theme of “Now What? Reporting on Education Amid Uncertainty.” Four afternoons of conversations, training and presentations will give attendees deeper understanding of these crises, as well as tools, skills and context to help them better serve their communities — and advance their careers.
To be held May 2-5, 2021, the seminar will feature education newsmakers, including leaders, policy makers, researchers, practitioners and journalists. And it will offer practical data and other skills training.
When Santiago Vazquez discovered the internet went down at his home in Tulare, that didn’t stop him from attending his online class.
The 10-year-old grabbed his Chromebook and climbed into the car of a family friend, who drove him around town until they found free Wi-Fi. His fifth-grade teacher, Melissa Graham, started her Zoom lesson for that third week of school and saw Vazquez working from the backseat of the car.
The stories education journalists tell can make a powerful impact in communities: deepening public understanding of critical issues, highlighting inequities, and holding public officials accountable. But sometimes their stories — and even their choice of words and phrases — may have unintended and potentially harmful effects on public attitudes toward young people. Those depictions can amplify stereotypes or distort impressions of youths.
Young Activists Offer Tips, Share Hesitations on Working With Journalists
'Amplify their voices,' and remember this may be their first media experience
When high schoolers Eric Luo and Zoe Monterola saw how inaccessible grocery delivery services were for at-risk populations in their hometown of Santa Clarita, California, they knew something needed to be done.
“Seeing people pay hundreds of dollars just so people can grocery shop for them … these issues affect us. That’s something that we can change,” Zoe said.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat.
This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.
When College Students Aren’t College-Ready
Thousands of students struggle at Chicago’s two-year colleges. Is an overhaul of developmental ed. programs enough to help?
(EWA Radio: Episode 231)
In Chicago, thousands of students are earning high school diplomas but showing up at the city’s two-year colleges unprepared for the next step in their academic journeys. In a new project, Kate McGee of WBEZ looked at efforts to buck that trend, including an innovative program developed not by outside experts but the system’s own faculty. Along the way, she explored a number of questions: Do students benefit more from remedial classes that re-teach them material they were supposed to master in high school, or from being placed directly into college classes with additional support like tutoring
Are Schools Adequately Preparing Students to Vote?
As political controversies trickle into classrooms, civics teachers connect curriculum to current events
(EWA Radio: Episode 207)
With the youth vote expected to be an important factor in the 2020 election cycle, civics teachers are increasingly using current events to help students understand the democratic system — and to be engaged and informed citizens. Reporter Stephen Sawchuk of Education Week shares insights from his news organization’s “Citizen Z” project, focused on the state of civics education in the U.S., including how it shapes individuals’ perspectives and community engagement beyond voting.
The federal head count of the nation’s residents is underway, and federal officials are turning to public schools to help spread the word. The outcome of the census could have significant implications for public schools and education funding: It helps determine federal funding for programs and services, as well as congressional districting.
A flurry of education-related conversation surfaced at the most recent Democratic presidential debate on Feb. 25, as candidates exchanged jabs and defended their positions on charter schools, student loan debt, and setting up young people for meaningful careers.
The 10th debate came at a pivotal moment, just days before voters in 14 states will cast their ballots on Super Tuesday (March 3). With education taking a back seat in prior debates, the rapid-fire discussion caught the attention of education journalists and pundits.
How Schools Handle Hate
After incidents of racism and anti-semitism, Seattle-area schools struggle to respond
(EWA Radio: Episode 230)
Education reporters are increasingly covering incidents of racism, antisemitism and other forms of hate committed by K-12 students. But what happens after the media spotlight shifts to the next story?
How to Write About Race Beyond Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Learn to address race and racism responsibly and history like Juneteenth.
Race issues get special attention in the news on Martin Luther King Jr. Day or during Black History Month. But race plays a role in every story journalists cover: where people live and work, who their friends and neighbors are, and — especially — what schools they attend.
Seeking to spark enthusiasm and engagement among funders who are interested in revitalizing our system of civic education, Rajiv VInnakota, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, today released the findings of a major research initiative he spearheaded examining the current state of civic education in America.
Educating the ‘Whole Child’ Is Complex. Will Schools Get It Right?
Recipe blends academics with SEL, character development
The idea that education isn’t simply about academics is nothing new. But efforts are mounting to promote a better balance in schools, to more explicitly address students’ social and emotional learning (SEL), build strong character, and foster civic responsibility.
The terminology varies, but the broad concept is sometimes referred to as “educating the whole child.” What’s it all about? What’s driving the increased interest and attention? And are public schools today really equipped to deliver this expansive vision of education?
With Civics, Do Schools Practice What They Teach?
As political tensions trickle into schools, how are schools preparing students to be engaged citizens and informed voters?
(EWA Radio: Episode 207)
Are public schools meeting their longstanding obligation to prepare students for the responsibilities of civic life? For the past year, a team of reporters and editors at Education Week has focused on the state of civics education in the U.S., from the instructional materials used by schools to examples where students are “living” civic engagement rather than just studying it. Reporter Stephen Sawchuk discusses the “Citizen Z” project, and how journalists can use it as a blueprint to inform their own work on this critical subject.
U.S. public education is rooted in the belief by early American leaders that the most important knowledge to impart to young people is what it means to be a citizen. If America is experiencing a civic crisis now, as many say it is, schools may well be failing at that job.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.