2016 U.S. Elections
We asked journalists to share some of their favorite education stories of 2017. Here are some highlights.
Bethany Barnes of The Oregonian investigates allegations of sexual abuse against a Portland Public Schools educator that span decades.
Peggy Barmier of The Hechinger Report explores the budget cuts and uncertainties a West Virginia program faces under the Trump administration.
Graduation rates are up, teen pregnancy is down, but the Trump administration could cut the budget for a West Virginia program that’s showing progress. by @PeggyBarmorehttps://t.co/mQsNdDmZP5 #tellEWA
Graduation rates are up, teen pregnancy is down, but the Trump administration could cut the budget for a West Virginia program that’s showing progress. by @PeggyBarmorehttps://t.co/mQsNdDmZP5 #tellEWA— Nichole Dobo (@nicholedobo) December 28, 2017
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.
For the first time since the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, some top universities are seeing their international student application numbers slide.
Lisa Miller, an associate editor at New York magazine, discusses her new profile of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Miller discusses the unwillingness of people close to DeVos to discuss her on the record — including current Department of Education employees — made this one of the most challenging profiles she’s ever written. What do we know about DeVos’ vision for the nation’s public schools that we didn’t know six months ago?
Thousands of charter school educators, leaders, and advocates gathered in Washington D.C. this week at a time of both great hope and palpable dissonance within the charter school sector.
There was no missing the symbolism in President Donald Trump’s first school visit since taking office — a stop at St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, this month.
St. Andrew is “one of the many parochial schools dedicated to the education of some of our most disadvantaged children,” Trump noted, and it’s been helped along by school choice policy.
President Donald Trump’s first budget blueprint begins to flesh out the areas in which he sees an important federal role in education — most notably expanding school choice — and those he doesn’t. At the same time, it raises questions about the fate of big-ticket items, including aid to improve teacher quality and support after-school programs.
If anyone doubted that school choice would be a top educational priority for the Trump administration, the Republican president’s first address to a joint session of Congress laid that question to rest.
“I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children,” he declared. “These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”
White House Rolls Back Guidance on Transgender Students. Episode Extra: “Dear Betsy DeVos …”
EWA Radio: Episode 111
Evie Blad of Education Week discusses President Trump’s decision to rescind Obama-era guidance on accommodations for transgender students. New Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos contends that further consideration and study is needed on the Obama administration’s instructions to districts, including on whether students should be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity — rather than their gender at birth. DeVos also said the issue is best left up to local schools and states to decide. What does this mean for public schools? Who should decide which bathrooms transgender students should be allowed to use? How will the federal policy shift influence pending legal challenges, including a forthcoming Supreme Court case?
And in a special addition to this week’s podcast, hear what Chalkbeat readers say they want DeVos to know about public education. Sarah Darville, the education news outlet’s national editor, discusses common themes in reader responses, including an emphasis on the vital role schools play in communities, and the need for greater resources to help students succeed.
Peabody Award-winning radio journalist Linda Lutton of WBEZ in Chicago discusses her new documentary following a class of fourth graders in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Is a “no excuses” school model a realistic approach for kids whose families are struggling to provide basics like shelter and food? How does Chicago Public Schools’ emphasis on high-stakes testing play out at William Penn Elementary? How can education reporters make the most of their access to classrooms, teachers, students, and families? And what lessons from “Room 205” could apply to the ongoing debate over how to best lift students out of poverty?
Kimberly Hefling of Politico discusses the new U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, who was confirmed Tuesday after Vice President Mike Pence was called in to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate. What will be her top priorities moving forward? How aggressively will the new secretary push school choice, and how likely is President Trump’s $20 billion school choice plan to gain traction? Has DeVos lost political capital during the bruising confirmation process? Was she held to a higher standard than other nominees for President Trump’s cabinet? And how much power will the Republican mega-donor have to roll back the Obama administration’s education policies and initiatives?
A Senate committee is slated to vote tomorrow on President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. secretary of education — philanthropist and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos. The Education Department is one of the newer federal departments, created during President Jimmy Carter’s administration and beginning its work in May of 1980.
Journalist Daniel Connolly spent a year embedded at a Memphis high school to learn first-hand about the educational experiences of Hispanic immigrants’ children. Connolly’s new book focuses on star student Isaias Ramos, “the hope of Kingsbury High.” The author explores how Isaias, born in the U.S., seeks to overcome obstacles to his plans for college. How did Connolly (The Memphis Commercial Appeal) gain such extraordinary access to the students, educators, and families of this school community? What does Isaias’ journey tell us about the hopes and aspirations of Hispanic immigrant families? And how are real world realities pressuring public schools to redefine expectations for student success?
Education Week’s Mark Bomster (assistant managing editor) and Sterling Lloyd (senior research associate) discuss the 2017 “Quality Counts” report, which examines and rates state-level efforts to improve public education. This year’s edition features a special focus on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind as the backbone of the nation’s federal K-12 policy. How ready are states, districts, and schools for the policy shifts — and new flexibility — on school accountability, testing, and teacher evaluations under ESSA, among other issues? What are some story ideas for local reporters covering the implementation? Also, which states scored the highest on Education Week’s ratings when it comes to student achievement, equitable education spending, and the “Chance for Success” index? How can education writers use this data to inform their own reporting?
It’s shaping up to be a contentious year on the education beat, fueled in part by Donald Trump’s upset victory in the presidential election.
Kate Zernike, The New York Times’ national education reporter, discusses what’s ahead on the beat in 2017. How will President-elect Donald Trump translate his slim set of campaign promises on education into a larger and more detailed agenda? What do we know about the direction Trump’s nominee for U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, will seek to take federal policy if she’s confirmed? Zernike also offers story ideas and suggestions for local and regional education reporters to consider in the new year.
What’s Next for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics?
A Q&A With Outgoing Executive Director Alejandra Ceja
Alejandra Ceja has been the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics since 2013 — a position she’ll give up at noon on Jan. 19, the day before the presidential inauguration. I recently sat down with her at the U.S. Department of Education to talk about the state of Latino education, the Initiative’s first 25 years, and what we can expect from the Initiative under the next administration.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length.
Benjamin Herold of Education Week discusses why media literacy is in the spotlight in the wake of the presidential election, and the troubling findings of a new Stanford University study that showed the vast majority of students from middle school through college can’t identify “fake news.” Why are so many digital natives flunking when it comes to evaluating the reliability of material they encounter online? How are policymakers, researchers, and educators proposing that schools address this deficit in critical-thinking skills?
Veteran education reporters from the Detroit Free Press and The Washington Post discuss Betsy DeVos, the billionaire school choice advocate nominated by President-elect Donald Trump. David Jesse of the Detroit newspaper sheds light on DeVos’ Michigan track record on legislative causes, and what is known about her tactics and negotiating style. Plus, he explains how DeVos’ strong religious beliefs have influenced her policy agenda. Emma Brown of The Washington Post details why Trump’s proposal for $20 billion in school vouchers might be a tough sell, even to a Republican-controlled Congress. And she sheds light on the potential for the next administration to dismantle President Obama’s education initiatives, including scaling back the reach of the Office for Civil Rights at the Education Department.
In the two weeks since Republican Donald Trump won the presidency on a platform touting stricter immigration laws and mass deportations, Los Angeles leaders have taken steps to assure the immigrants within their borders that the city supports them.
In a new series, Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Jennifer Pignolet tells the story of Shelby County students working hard to make it to college — and to succeed once they arrive. And their challenges aren’t just financial: for some, like Darrius Isom of South Memphis, having reliable transportation to get to class on time is a game changer. And what are some of the in-school and extracurricular programs that students say are making a difference? Pignolet also looks at the the Tennessee Promise program, which provides free community college classes to qualified students, and assigns a mentor to help guide them.
THANKSGIVING BONUS: EWA journalist members share some of the things they’re grateful for this year.
Benjamin Wermund of Politico discusses the uncertainties ahead for the nation’s colleges and universities following the presidential election. While Donald Trump has offered few specifics on education policy, his surrogates suggest he will reverse course on many initiatives put in place under President Obama. That could have a significant impact on areas like Title IX enforcement, federal funding for research, and more. Higher education leaders are also facing a surge in reports of hate crimes and harassment on campuses that were already struggling with issues of free speech and diversity.
At EWA’s forum on the 2016 election outcome, a panel of experts discuss the future of pre-K-12 education policy with members of the media.
- David Cleary, Office of Senator Lamar Alexander
- Vic Klatt, Penn Hill Group
- Alyson Klein, Education Week
- Bethany Little, EducationCounsel
- Erik Robelen, Education Writers Association
At EWA’s forum on the 2016 election outcome, a panel of experts discuss the future of higher education policy with members of the media.
- Lindsey Burke, Heritage Foundation
- Kevin Carey, New America
- David Cleary, Office of Senator Lamar Alexander
- Terry Hartle, American Council on Education
- Kenneth Terrell, Education Writers Association
Caroline Hendrie, executive director of Education Writers Association, welcomes members of the media to EWA’s forum on the 2016 election outcome and the future of education policy.
After more than a year of polarizing campaign rhetoric about immigrants that led to reports of increased school bullying across the country, many school districts have begun offering additional counseling and support services for students who fear for their futures under the next presidential administration.
In her first election, 19-year-old Melissa Kelley voted for Hillary Clinton. “There’s a million reasons” why, she said. “Donald Trump is just so anti-everything I believe in.” Kelley’s causes? A woman’s right to choose an abortion, Black Lives Matter, refugees and the environment.
Advocates of bilingual education got a big win in California Tuesday, when an overwhelming majority of the electorate voted to end the state’s longstanding English-only approach to educating English-language learners.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
The long, strange election cycle came to an end Tuesday with the election of Donald Trump as the next president. And while his campaign platform was scarce on education policy details, there’s no question his administration will have a significant impact, from early childhood to K-12 and higher education.
This Election Day, Massachusetts voters will decide whether to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state — a hotly contested ballot measure that’s drawn more than $34 million in fundraising among the two sides and garnered national attention, with parents of students of color and advocates for minority students on both sides of the issue.
Fearing higher-than-usual potential for unruly voters, school districts across the country have canceled classes at campuses used as Election Day polling stations. But some civics advocates say the decisions result in the loss of a powerful “teachable moment.”
I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen headlines this election season about polarizing campaign rhetoric being used to bully and harass Latino students.
Timothy Pratt of The Hechinger Report discusses why liberal arts colleges in Appalachia are making Latino student recruiting a top priority. A 2016 EWA Reporting Fellow, Pratt recently completed an in-depth reporting project on the implications of this shift for private colleges — many of which are struggling to keep enrollment counts up.
New York Times best-selling author Dana Goldstein (“The Teacher Wars”) discusses her reporting for Slate on whether Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric is trickling down into classrooms. Teachers across the country have reported an increase in bullying and other inappropriate behavior. Some organizations – such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Federation of Teachers – say those problems are a direct reflection of the tumultuous political season. But how much of this really starts outside of schools, and what are reasonable expectations for schools to navigate controversial political events? Goldstein offers insights and historical context for teachers who must balance instructional objectivity with their own political views. She also suggests story ideas for reporters covering the issue in local schools.
As federal education officials tout a fourth consecutive year of improvement in the nation’s high school graduation rate, the reactions that follow are likely to fall into one of three categories: policymakers claiming credit for the gains; critics arguing that achievement gaps are still far too wide to merit celebrating; and policy wonks warning against misuses of the data.
As has become tradition at EWA’s higher education conferences, Inside Higher Ed Co-founder and Editor Scott Jaschik offered a series of story ideas for reporters to pursue this academic year.
What does the term “innovation” mean in regard to higher education, and should journalists take colleges’ definitions at face value?
With so much attention focused on the campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, voters could be forgiven for forgetting they’ll be asked to decide plenty more in November. And the stakes are high for K-12 education in state-level elections, including races for governor, state education chief, and legislative seats, plus ballot measures on education funding and charter schools.
Will education get more than a passing reference in tonight’s first presidential debate? We shall see. But with the help of EWA members, we’ve assembled a digital bingo card of popular education buzzwords and phrases you may hear.
Use the digital card to play along on Twitter using the #EWABingo hashtag. If you are planning a debate-watching party — and who isn’t? — you can also print out multiple cards.
Caroline Hendrie, the executive director of the Education Writers Association, discusses how education is playing out as an issue in the 2016 presidential election, and what’s at stake in November.
During the Democratic presidential primaries, the debate was over whether to make public colleges tuition-free or debt-free for students. Now that Democrat Hillary Clinton has picked up the tuition-free banner, how might her proposal affect higher education? Meanwhile, Republican nominee Donald Trump has suggested he might change the federal government’s role in lending to students altogether. Experts address what the candidates’ ideas could mean for colleges and students.
Experts and advocates assess how early childhood and K-12 education issues are factoring into the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They offer analysis of the candidates’ campaign positions and explore the complex politics of education policy. They also discuss other key elections around the nation with big stakes for education.
When compared to Donald Trump’s single education policy-related sentence in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, Hillary Clinton’s remarks on the subject Thursday night were certainly more extensive, as she sought to emphasize a track record of making schools, teachers, families, and students her political — and personal — priorities.
Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jaschik started his annual listing of higher education stories ripe for coverage this upcoming year by asking journalists to do better when choosing which news developments to cover.
In May, just before Jaschik’s presentation at the Education Writers Association’s conference in Boston, President Obama’s daughter Malia had recently committed to attending Harvard University and taking a “gap year.”
Past is prologue.
That’s what Republicans promise in the higher education platform they’ll finalize at their national convention in Cleveland: an approach that follows the direction they’ve already taken in Congress.
Fewer regulations for colleges and universities. Less red tape for students.
“Obviously what we do legislatively is a statement of our philosophy and our principles,” said Virginia Foxx, Republican chair of the House subcommittee that oversees higher education and co-chair of the GOP platform committee.
What implications does the presidential election hold for the future of pre-K -12 policy? What direction would the leading candidates pursue? How might a shift in Congress’s political balance complicate matters? Meanwhile, a dozen governors’ seats are in play, from Oregon to Indiana and North Carolina, setting the stage for state-policy shifts.
Hillary Clinton vowed to be a partner with educators if she wins the White House, during a speech today to the nation’s largest teachers’ union. Clinton drew enthusiastic applause from National Education Association members for most of the address, including her calls to make preschool universally available, boost teacher pay, and ease the burden of paying for higher education.
But the presumptive Democratic nominee got a far more muted response, and even some jeers, when she made a positive plug — albeit very briefly — for charter schools.
The first total solar eclipse to sweep across the entire continental United States in 38 years will occur on August 21, 2017. Don’t expect reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) anytime before then.
The HEA expired at the end of 2013 and it’s likely nothing will happen with it in an election year or soon thereafter, agreed a panel of journalists discussing key higher education issues and the 2016 presidential election, at the Education Writers Association National Seminar in Boston in May.
This election season, it has become common to read about candidates’ anti-immigrant rhetoric trickling down into schools and, in many cases, being used to insult Latino students. Over the past several days, the polarizing phrase “build a wall” — presumed to be inspired by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s immigration plan to curb illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border — has been making headlines in Oregon, as it has inspired hundreds of studen
With Donald Trump now seen as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, after his strong victory in the Indiana primary, attention surely will grow to what he would actually do if elected.
If you want to know where Trump stands on education, you might think the first place to go would be his campaign website.
K-12 education hasn’t been a top theme this presidential campaign cycle, but reporters could be more aggressive in mining information from the candidates on the topic, analysts said at a national forum this week.
Historically, education hasn’t played prominently on the campaign trail, said Martin West, an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The 2016 presidential election is no exception – although this race for the White House has also proven wildly unpredictable.
The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation’s Schools
Southern Poverty Law Center
Every four years, teachers in the United States use the presidential election to impart valuable lessons to students about the electoral process, democracy, government and the responsibilities of citizenship.
But, for students and teachers alike, this year’s primary season is starkly different from any in recent memory. The results of an online survey conducted by Teaching Tolerance suggest that the campaign is having a profoundly negative effect on children and classrooms.
Student reporters — some as young as 10 years old — are reporting on the race to the White House. But amid incidents of violence at recent rallies for Republican front-runner Donald Trump, some people are wondering whether it’s time to take the junior journalists off the campaign trail.
When President Obama leaves office in January, there will be no shortage of big-name corporations and Ivy League universities clamoring for his skills. But in a recent essay for The New Yorker Magazine, contributor Cinque Henderson — a former writer for Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” — suggests President Obama consider teaching at a historically black college or university (HBCU), community college, or even an urban high school.
It may have ended with some people injured and others in jail, but participants in an effort to stop a Donald Trump rally in Chicago over the weekend are calling their organized protest against the leading Republican presidential candidate a success.
At the Democratic Town Hall Sunday night in Columbus, Ohio, Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked whether he supported charter schools. The Democratic presidential candidate’s answer — imprecise at best — set off a flurry of responses in the Twittersphere, if not the audience at the CNN broadcast.
Basketball games between rival Midwestern high schools turned political last week after fans invoked Donald Trump allegedly to intimidate opposing schools with large Latino student populations.
An unusually large turnout is predicted for Super Tuesday, and campuses in Fairfax County, Virginia — one of the nation’s largest school districts — have decided to cancel classes as a result.
More than 22,000 young voters participated in the Republican caucuses Monday, a record turnout, according to an advocacy group for civic education.
The youth vote helped Texas Sen. Ted Cruz finish ahead of businessman Donald Trump, according to the Center on Information for Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University in Boston.
Iowa prides itself on holding the first caucuses of the presidential election year. EWA public editor Emily Richmond talks with statewide education reporter Mackenzie Ryan of the Des Moines Register about what it’s like to be at the epicenter of the presidential race insanity, her coverage of Republican hopeful Marco Rubio, and the big concerns for Iowa voters when it comes to public schools.
With the first caucuses of the presidential election year imminent, it’s worth asking: Who will turn out among young voters in Iowa and subsequent states? And could their choices help swing the final result to the underdogs instead of the presumed front-runners?
Jeb Bush & Higher-Education Reform: Forget ‘Free College’
Andrew Kelly and Jason Delisle for National Review
Federal higher-education policy is in shambles. The strategy of the past 40 years — to increase student aid, watch tuition rise, and increase student aid again — has reached a breaking point. Federal loans flow freely with few questions asked, giving colleges every incentive to raise tuition and enroll more students, but less reason to worry about whether those students learn anything. Tuition at the average public four-year college has nearly quadrupled since the early 1980s, pushing more students into debt.
College affordability has become a key topic in the 2016 presidential campaign, whether through Democratic candidates’ outlining varying approaches to a debt-free education at public universities or Republican contenders’ suggesting income-sharing arrangements and accreditation reform. A discussion of the nuances and potential of these ideas.
- Jason Delisle, New America
- Terry Hartle, American Council on Education
- Neal McCluskey, Cato Institute
- Colin Seeberger, Young Invincibles
- Kimberly Hefling, Politico (moderator)
Journalists share their insights about covering education in the White House race, and offer practical tips and strategies for penetrating coverage.
- Lauren Camera, U.S. News & World Report
- Nirvi Shah, Politico Pro
- Michael Stratford, Inside Higher Ed
- Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association
Experts and advocates take stock of how early childhood and K-12 education issues are factoring into the presidential campaign. They offer analysis of the candidates’ track records, campaign rhetoric, and specific plans (or lack thereof), and explore the complex politics of education policy.
Caroline Hendrie, executive director of Education Writers Association, introduces the state of education topics in the 2016 election.
Hispanic students in Sioux City, Iowa, say they’ve been bullied since Donald Trump made controversial comments about illegal Mexican immigrants during his presidential campaign announcement speech, prompting hundreds of students, parents and other residents to protest the Republican candidate’s appearance at
Testing in the nation’s schools is among the most debated issues in public education today. Much of this discussion has centered on how much we are testing students and how we use test results to evaluate teachers, inform instructional practice, and hold schools and educators accountable. A recent national poll by Phi Delta Kappa underscores the fact that the public at large is concerned about the extent of testing in schools, and these concerns are influencing how people think about the nationwide move to adopt and implement the new Common Core State Standards.
It took nearly two hours, but education — more specifically college affordability and some differences in how to address it — came to the fore in the first Democratic presidential debate after CNN co-moderator Dana Bush asked both Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about their plans.
As Democratic presidential hopefuls assemble in Las Vegas today for their first formal debate, one topic that has received little airtime during the Republican face-offs is likely to garner far more attention: the high cost of attaining a college degree.
In the campaign for the White House, education has gained considerable attention, from proposals to make college debt-free to sharp criticism of the Common Core standards. The fault lines are not simply between Democrats and Republicans, but also among candidates in each of the two parties, and competing factions in their political ranks.