EdMedia Commons Archive

Background Reading for THURSDAY of EWA National Seminar at Stanford University

Advocates Session – Reporters’ Roundtable (10:00-11:15 a.m.)

How can advocates connect more effectively with journalists? Reporters and editors describe their reactions to press releases and emails, and offer advice on what works best to cut through the clutter.


Dave Murray, Mlive.com;

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed;

 Daarel Burnette, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Moderator: Dakarai Aarons, CommunicationWorks

 Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education (Lunch and Keynote Speaker, 11:30 – 1:15 p.m.)

Secretary Duncan will discuss the future of federal education reform and the new directions the Department of Education will take during President Obama’s second term. Topics include federal No Child Left Behind Act waivers for states and the outlook for congressional reauthorization of that law.

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

Introduction: Scott Elliott, The Indianapolis Star

Background content

Universal preschool is a sure path to the middle class:

“Can we replicate what works? We can, and we must. If the United States is to remain a global economic leader, high-quality preschool must become the norm. The moral case is compelling, too. As President Obama has said, every child should have the opportunity, through hard work, to join the middle class. Children shouldn’t be denied equal educational opportunity at the starting line.”

Bonus reading: Statement of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan—FY 2014 Budget…

Concurrent Sessions, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

What Online Education Means for College Classrooms 

The rise of online education arguably represents the first real change in centuries to how courses are taught in postsecondary education, both on and off campus. This discussion examines the potential online teaching technologies have to change how students learn—both in lecture halls and cyberspace—and how universities function.


Sir Michael Barber, Pearson;

John Mitchell, Stanford University;

Mark Smith, National Education Association

Moderator: Claudia Dreifus, The New York Times

Background content

In this 72-page document titled “An Avalanche is Coming: Higher Education and The Revolution Ahead,” the authors contend that:

“Each university needs to be clear which niches or market segments it wants to serve and how. The traditional multipurpose university with a combination of a range of degrees and a modestly effective research program has had its day. The traditional university is being unbundled.”

Accompanying video of Sir Michael Barber highlighting the report’s findings can be viewed here.

Stanford University recently created the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning, bringing on John Mitchell, a professor of computer science at the school, for the new position. What’s been happening since 2012:

“Around 15 courses will be offered online in fall quarter by Stanford faculty, covering engineering, mathematics, social science, education and entrepreneurship, and many more are lined up for winter and spring. The deans of the schools of Medicine, Engineering and Business have appointed faculty members to spearhead online learning at their respective schools, and assigned resources to encourage experimentation among students and faculty.”

See http://online.stanford.edu/

An interview in Crain’s with Mark Smith of the NEA on what’s behind the push to offer courses online and where labor fits into the new paradigm.

 Dissecting the Data on Charter Schools

Research around charter schools seems rarely neutral. How do you navigate it with use of data? Two researchers will offer insight on how to cut through the spin and look at the real numbers behind how charter school students are performing and what kinds of students charter schools are serving.


Jeffrey Henig, Teachers College, Columbia University;

Margaret Raymond, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Moderator: Joy Resmovits, The Huffington Post

Background Content

Spin Cycle: How Research Is Used in Policy Debates: The Case of Cha…

“In Spin Cycle, Henig draws on extensive interviews with researchers, journalists, and funding agencies on both sides of the debate, as well as data on federal and foundation grants and a close analysis of media coverage, to explore how social science research is “spun” in the public sphere. Henig looks at the consequences of a highly controversial New York Times article that cited evidence of poor test performance among charter school students. The front-page story, based on research findings released by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), sparked an explosive debate over the effectiveness of charter schools.”

The Stanford report, entitled, “Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States,” is the

first detailed national assessment of charter school impacts since its longitudinal, student-level

analysis covers more than 70 percent of the nation’s students attending charter schools.

Bonus reading: Charter Quality’s the Issue, Not Research Methods, Education Week &

Charter Schools That Start Bad Stay Bad, Stanford Report Says, The Huffington Post 

Observing Classrooms: Spotting Signs of Quality 

Researchers have been closely studying how the classroom practices of more effective teachers differ from those of their less effective peers. How can journalists capitalize on what has been learned?

Panelist: Pam Grossman, Stanford Graduate School of Education 

Moderator: Elizabeth Green, GothamSchools

Background Content

What makes a good teacher?

“As new research suggests that teacher practices are integral to student success, there is a push to discover exactly which practices correlate most highly to achievement. The Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observations (PLATO) is a classroom observation protocol focused on middle and high school English/Language arts instruction that was developed as part of a research study on classroom practices. The study specifically aims to discover more effective teacher practices as measured by their impact on student achievement. The PLATO instrument is based on existing literature on effective instruction in secondary level English Language Arts and (v. 3.0) includes thirteen elements that encompass a number of key areas of ELA classroom instruction.”

Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline

What is the proper punishment for fighting? For cursing? For tardiness? Does punishment always fit the crime and can disproportionate punishment lead to a future in prison? These questions arise as researchers are documenting examples of “unconscious bias” that can affect professionals in law enforcement, medicine and education. Speakers will tackle the intersection of these issues.


Susan Ferriss, The Center for Public Integrity;

Phillip Goff, University of California, Los Angeles; 

Josefina Alvarado Mena, Safe Passages

Moderator: Linda Lenz

Background Content

Investigative Reporting in a Medium Newsroom: First Prize—“Punishing Numbers

Bonus reading: School suspensions: Does racial bias feed the school-to-prison pipe…

Solutions Journalism: A Different Lens on Stories 

The author of The New York Times “Fixes” blog explains and discusses solutions journalism, which aims to  examine credible responses to social problems. What is “SoJo”? How does it differ from traditional reporting and how does it apply to education reporting? 

Speaker: David Bornstein, Solutions Journalism Network 

Background content

Solutions Journalism Checklist

All Posts by David Bornstein for The New York Times

An Interview with Thomas Friedman, The New York Times (Plenary Speaker, 3:00-4:00 p.m.)

Thomas Friedman will share his views on what the United States can learn from other countries’ education systems, the importance of education as a national security issue, emerging arrangements such as massive open online courses, and other subjects related to innovation. 

Thomas Friedman, The New York Times Interviewed by Stephanie Banchero of The Wall Street Journal

 Background Reading

My Little (Global) School:

American students in the second quarter of socioeconomic advantage — mostly higher middle class — were significantly outperformed by 24 countries in math and by 15 countries in science, the study found. In the third quarter of socioeconomic advantage — mostly lower middle class — U.S. students were significantly outperformed by peers in 31 countries or regions in math and 25 in science.

The good news, though, said Schnur, “is that, for the first time, we have documented that there are individual U.S. schools that are literally outperforming every country in the world.”

Revolution Hits the Universities:

Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems. And nothing has more potential to enable us to reimagine higher education than the massive open online course, or MOOC, platforms that are being developed by the likes of Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and companies like Coursera and Udacity.

Come the Revolution:

Welcome to the college education revolution. Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary. The costs of getting a college degree have been rising faster than those of health care, so the need to provide low-cost, quality higher education is more acute than ever. At the same time, in a knowledge economy, getting a higher-education degree is more vital than ever. And thanks to the spread of high-speed wireless technology, high-speed Internet, smartphones, Facebook, the cloud and tablet computers, the world has gone from connected to hyperconnected in just seven years. Finally, a generation that has grown up on these technologies is increasingly comfortable learning and interacting with professors through online platforms.

Concurrent Sessions, 4:14-5:15 p.m.

Stanford Knight Fellows: Entrepreneurship in Journalism

Each year, Knight journalism fellows at Stanford propose and develop entrepreneurial media projects. Winners of this year’s fellowships explain their innovative projects and explore models for how journalists can break ground in the fast-changing news industry.


LaToya Peterson and Bill McNulty, John S. Knight Journalism Fellows at Stanford University

Moderator: Dawn Garcia, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University

Background content

Mission & History

Our fellows come from all over the world and from all types of journalism, including daily newspapers, radio and television, non-profit news startups, blogs and ethnic media. They explore and use Stanford, in addition to working on their innovation proposals. They take their cues from our partners and allies in Silicon Valley, as they prototype, refine and retest their ideas

Making sure news and information gets to ALL the public, by LaToya Peterson

“So how do we start to bridge the divides? And can technology be leveraged to find users who are not in the market for news and information? I dedicated my Knight year to exploring the problem and finding a solution.

“Inspiration struck when I participated in the Beta test of the Public Media Corps in Washington, D.C. The short fellowship was started by the National Black Programming Consortium to connect communities and public media outlets. In the course of my work, I noticed information gaps: moments where communities needed information, but it wasn’t available or easily accessible.”

Urban School Reform: Beyond Stars and Scandals

Do reporters who cover major efforts to improve schools focus on incremental developments at the expense of the big picture? Do they pay too much attention to leaders with star power and too little to quieter contributors? The authors of two new books on urban education reflect on media coverage of efforts to revamp big-city schools.


Richard Lee Colvin, Author;

David Kirp, University of California, Berkeley

Moderator: Benjamin Herold

Background Content

Tilting at Windmills by Richard Lee Colvin:

Between 1998, when Alan Bersin became superintendent of the San Diego school system, and 2005, when he left that post, San Diego undertook a sustained and notably ambitious effort to reform its public school system. Bersin’s efforts were controversial from the start, both within San Diego and throughout the United States. Yet everyone agreed that the San Diego story was an immensely important one—and that it was a harbinger of reform efforts to come throughout the United States.

Bonus reading: Alan Bersin’s reforms five years later

The Secret to Fixing Bad Schools by Professor David Kirp:

“This used to be true in Union City, where the schools were once so wretched that state officials almost seized control of them. How things have changed. From third grade through high school, students’ achievement scores now approximate the statewide average. What’s more, in 2011, Union City boasted a high school graduation rate of 89.5 percent — roughly 10 percentage points higher than the national average.

“What makes Union City remarkable is, paradoxically, the absence of pizazz. It hasn’t followed the herd by closing “underperforming” schools or giving the boot to hordes of teachers. No Teach for America recruits toil in its classrooms, and there are no charter schools.”

Top 10 Stories on Innovation in Higher Education

What are the higher education stories on innovation that reporters should be following this year? The editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed offers his insights on what stories are worth writing.

Presenter: Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed

Background content

10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering This Year (Video)

Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik talks to reporters about 10 stories he wants to see in 2013 (added bonus: three “don’ts” to observe while covering the higher ed beat).

This address was a part of “Degrees vs. Debt: Making College More Affordable,” EWA’s Nov. 2-3 2012 seminar for higher ed reporters at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Claude Steele, Stanford Graduate School of Education (Dinner and Keynote Speaker, 5:30-7:00 p.m.)

The minute students step into an academic situation, how they perform can be influenced by how they believe they are perceived. Claude Steele’s pioneering research on “stereotype threat” sheds light on such topics as affirmative action, the achievement gap and other contemporary topics in education. 

Claude Steele, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Introduction: Linda Darling-Hammond

Background Content

Thin Ice: Stereotype Threat and Black College Students, The Atlantic:

When capable black college students fail to perform as well as their white counterparts, the explanation often has less to do with preparation or ability than with the threat of stereotypes about their capacity to succeed. Educators at Stanford who tested this hypothesis report their findings and propose solutions.

‘Whistling Vivaldi’ And Beating Stereotypes, National Public Radio:

Women taking a math test will perform worse when reminded that women aren’t expected to do well in math. Social psychologist Claude Steele calls this an example of the “stereotype threat.” In his book, Whistling Vivaldi, he lays out a plan to reshape those expectations.

Balancing the Equation for Boys and Girls in Math, Educated Reporter:

That “information problem” could also have another component, known to researchers as “stereotype threat.” Put simply, if people are worried about confirming negative perceptions of a group of which they are a member, it can hurt their individual performance. The seminal study on stereotype threat was published in 1995 by Claude Steele (now dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education) and Joshua Aronson (associate professor of applied psychology at NYU), and found that black college students fared worse when they were asked to identify their race prior to taking a high-stakes exam. Numerous other researchers have since found similar results when asking people to identify themselves by a group – be it ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or age, just to list a few – and then testing them in a subject where there are stereotypes about their perceived inferior ability.

West Coast Film Premiere: “Rebirth” (7:15-9:00 p.m.) 

A new documentary film draws on years of footage of post-Katrina New Orleans to critically examine ongoing efforts to dramatically restructure public education in the Crescent City. Following a screening of the film, panelists will explore New Orleans’ choice-based education landscape and the national implications of the groundbreaking changes unfolding there.


Sarah Carr, author;

Jean Desravines, New Leaders;

Andre Perry, Loyola University New Orleans

Moderator: John Merrow, Learning Matters

Background Content

Rebirth from ashes: New film captures New Orleans’ radical school r…, Deseret News:

“Merrow was in town covering the city’s efforts to radically transform its public schools. For all the problems Hurricane Katrina left behind, it also, paradoxically, leveled the status quo and created an opening for change. Merrow spent the next five years watching the city remake its public education system. His series of reports morphed into a documentary film, ‘Rebirth: New Orleans,’ which is now in post-production. 

“’The film’s main character is the city of New Orleans,’ Merrow said. ‘But we profile several schools, including a charter school that gets shut down and then reopens.’”

Documentary explores New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina We…, The Times-Picayune (With Preview): 

“In all this, Merrow examines many of the hot-button issues and criticisms of education reform in New Orleans. Among them: the firing of the city’s entire teaching staff and introduction of large numbers of Teach for America members, the comparatively low rates of students with disabilities at charters, the charge that charters expel troublemakers and struggling children to boost test averages and whether some discipline and uniform codes go too far. Still, he concludes that the education reform “gamble” is paying off in better test scores and graduation rates.”

Giving Children a Chance, New York Times (Opinion)

Kirkus Review of Hope Against Hope: Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America’s Children, by Sarah Carr:

Education reporter Carr debuts with a balanced account of the growing charter-school movement in post-Katrina New Orleans.

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.