EWA Radio

Overview Rick Wilson

EWA Radio
Your guide to what's hot on the education reporting beat.

Each week, EWA's public editor, Emily Richmond, hosts engaging interviews with journalists about education and its coverage in the media.

Don't Miss an Episode! Subscribe to the EWA Radio Podcast

Find us on  iHeartRadio,  iTunes, Google Podcasts,  Google Play Music,  Pocket Casts  Radio.com (app only),  Spotify,  Stitcher,  or through the RSS feed.

If you have an idea for an episode, let Emily know. Remember to rate us on iTunes—your feedback and support will help us grow.

©2018 Education Writers Association

"Mother Will Call" by PK Jazz Collective used under terms of the CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

Each week, EWA’s public editor, Emily Richmond, hosts engaging interviews with journalists about education and its coverage in the media.

Don’t Miss an Episode! Subscribe to the EWA Radio Podcast

Find us on  iHeartRadio,  iTunes, Google Podcasts,  Google Play Music,  Pocket Casts  Radio.com (app only),  Spotify,  Stitcher,  or through the RSS feed.

If you have an idea for an episode, let Emily know. Remember to rate us on iTunes—your feedback and support will help us grow.

©2018 Education Writers Association

“Mother Will Call” by PK Jazz Collective used under terms of the CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

EWA Radio

The Missing Data on Student Restraint and Seclusion
Federal audit finds school districts failing to report the use of physical behavioral interventions
(EWA Radio: Episode 210)

School districts have been vastly underreporting instances when some of their most vulnerable students are physically restrained or sent to seclusion rooms by campus staff — that’s the conclusion of a new report from the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency. Two reporters on opposite sides of the country were already deep into the reporting on this issue: Jenny Abamu of WAMU in Washington, D.C., and Rob Manning of Oregon Public Broadcasting.

EWA Radio Emily Richmond

Can Puerto Rico’s Schools Be Saved?
As former education secretary Julia Keleher faces indictment, the U.S. territory struggles to keep schools open and students from fleeing
(EWA Radio: Episode 216)

In Puerto Rico, the public education system is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Maria two years ago. Now, another storm has hit, but this time it’s political. Education Secretary Julia Keleher, who pledged to reinvigorate the U.S. territory’s crumbling and low-performing schools, resigned in April and has since been indicted on corruption charges. (She has pleaded not guilty.)

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

The Higher Ed Stories You Need to Know About
Underground fraternities, student loan debt, free speech on campus are top issues for fall
(EWA Radio: Episode 215)

Where can you find reliable data on how your colleges and universities are handling sexual-assault allegations on campus? How do you develop better sources among the faculty senate leadership? And why is now the time to focus on Greek life on campus — and a growing number of students’ opposition to it?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Back to School: Story Ideas, Tips and Trends to Watch
School choice, immigration raids, cultural competency top the list
(EWA Radio: Episode 214)

With a new school year getting underway, how can education reporters find fresh angles on familiar ground? Kate Grossman, the education editor for WBEZ public media in Chicago, offers story ideas, big trends to watch for, and suggestions for networking with parents, teachers, and administrators.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

The Ugly Side of Beauty Schools
Students of for-profit career programs struggle with high loan debt, low paying jobs
(EWA Radio: Episode 196)

In this replay of a recent episode of EWA Radio, Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report discuss their investigation into private cosmetology schools in Iowa that are reaping big profits at the expense of their students.  Students are spending upward of $20,000 to earn a cosmetology certificate—comparable to the cost of two associates’ degrees at a community college.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Lessons From Parkland: Covering the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting
Journalists Aric Chokey and Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel discuss the newspaper's Pulitzer-winning reporting
(EWA Radio: Episode 204)

Heartbreaking. Frightening. Infuriating. All those words apply to the remarkable coverage by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The newspaper’s reporting since the February 2018 killings earned journalism’s top award this year, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The newspaper pushed back on stonewalling by district leadership and public safety officials to uncover missed opportunities that might have mitigated — or even prevented — the school shooting that left 17 people dead and dozens more seriously injured.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Why Is Reading Instruction So Controversial?
In award-winning documentary, APM Reports' Emily Hanford digs into the roots of nation's literacy challenges
(EWA Radio: Episode 181)

(image: Katherine Zhou for APM Reports)

Across the country, the way most students are being taught to read is out of step with more than 40 years of scientific research on how children learn this essential skill. That’s the case being made in an award-winning radio documentary from APM Reports’ Emily Hanford, who describes the devastating domino effect of inadequate literacy instruction on students’ academic progress and opportunities. 

EWA Radio Erik Robelen

Can a State Help More Residents Finish College?
With 75 percent of the state’s jobs requiring postsecondary credentials, Colorado looks to boost college and career training
(EWA Radio: Episode 213)

Like many states, Colorado has set an ambitious goal for boosting the number of citizens with advanced degrees and credentials, all with an eye toward filling high-need jobs in areas like health care and manufacturing. In a five-part series, EWA Reporting Fellow Stephanie Daniel of KUNC (Northern Colorado Community Radio) looks at how the Rocky Mountain state is trying to do that:

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Want to Know What Students Think of Your Reporting? Ask Them.
Los Angeles Times asks teens for feedback on coverage of homicides near campuses
(EWA Radio: Episode 205)

Do students in the nation’s second-largest district feel their communities are portrayed fairly in media coverage of homicides near schools? As part of her project on teens’ challenges navigating a safe path to schools, education reporter Sonali Kohli asked students critique news stories. She also crunched the data, finding surprising examples where the reality contradicted perceptions of the “most dangerous” schools. 

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

When Schools Spy on Students
K-12 districts ramping up digital surveillance in the name of campus safety
(EWA Radio: Episode 212)

Ever feel like somebody’s watching you? If you’re in a in a K-12 school these days, you’re probably right. Education Week’s Benjamin Herold took a close look at the surge in digital surveillance by districts, such as tapping facial recognition software and scanning social media posts for worrisome language.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

The Strange Tale of the Fake AP Test
Principal, school under investigation for having unknowing students take ‘placebo exam’ instead of accredited test
(EWA Radio: Episode 211)

In South Florida, a high school principal is under fire for tricking hundreds of students into thinking they were taking a legitimate Advanced Placement exam that might lead to college course credit. As first reported by Cassidy Alexander of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the principal determined that giving all eligible students the AP test would have been too expensive. Instead, the school paid for 78 students to take the real test.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Cory Booker, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Newark Schools Experiment
"The Prize" author Dale Russakoff discusses massive school reform intervention spearheaded by then-Mayor Cory Booker and funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and its mixed results
EWA Radio: Episode 38

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In 2010, billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced an unprecedented gift: he would donate $100 million to the public school district of Newark, New Jersey (dollars that would eventually be matched by private partners).

EWA Radio

The Underreporting of Student Restraint and Seclusion
New GAO report details inaccuracies in district data
(EWA Radio: Episode 210)

School districts have been vastly underreporting instances when some of their most vulnerable students are physically restrained or sent to seclusion rooms by campus staff — that’s the conclusion of a new report from the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency. Two reporters on opposite sides of the country were already deep into the reporting on this issue: Jenny Abamu of WAMU in Washington, D.C., and Rob Manning of Oregon Public Broadcasting.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

When Prisoners Go to College
In Illinois, education programs for the incarcerated show strong results despite being underfunded
(EWA Radio: Episode 200)

If you’re an inmate  in Illinois, what educational programs are available to help you get your life back on track? That’s the question public radio reporter Lee Gaines set out to answer in an ongoing series. As part of an EWA Reporting Fellowship, Gaines looks at how severe budget cuts in Illinois, plus changes to eligibility for federal Pell Grant dollars, have reduced the number of prisoners earning postsecondary credentials and degrees.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Summer Story Ideas on the Education Beat
Tips for tapping national issues to fuel localized reporting
(EWA Radio: Episode 209)

School might be out, but that doesn’t mean education issues take a vacation: Two experienced education journalists offer compelling story ideas to beat the summertime blues. Delece Smith-Barrow of The Hechinger Report and Lauren Camera of U.S. News & World Report join this week’s podcast to discuss a wide range of national topics ripe for localized summer coverage.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Can Kansas Keep Its Best Students?
Sunflower State students face realities of 'College Economy'
(EWA Radio: Episode 203)

Kansas, like many states, is pouring millions of dollars into dual-credit programs, technical colleges and other initiatives aimed at preparing more students for the so-called “college economy,” where advanced training is a prerequisite for well-paying jobs. But are those investments paying off? In an eight-part series for the Kansas News Service, reporters Celia Llopis-Jepsen and Stephen Bisaha look at the state’s push to get more students into postsecondary programs, and to keep them from taking their highly desirable skill sets to employers in other states. 

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

The Criminalization of Black Girls
How biases are influencing discipline and punishment, in school and out
(EWA Radio: Episode 208)

As a teacher and later as a criminal justice reporter, USA Today’s Monica Rhor saw firsthand that black girls were often treated more harshly than their white peers. That awareness drove her determination to investigate the prevalence of the problem. She found stunning examples of how bias among educators and law enforcement drive what researchers call the “adultification” of black girls.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

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.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Lessons From the Higher Ed Beat
David Jesse of Detroit Free Press wins top EWA Award for coverage of MSU, Larry Nassar scandal
(EWA Radio: Episode 206)

Reporter David Jesse’s scoops went so deep in covering the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal at Michigan State University that some campus officials wondered if he was being cc’ed on internal emails. Nassar, a physician affiliated with MSU’s athletics program, was sentenced to 70 years in prison for sexually abusing students who were his patients at the campus clinic, as well as members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team. The university’s president also resigned in the wake of the fallout. Jesse, who’s been covering higher education at the Detroit Free Press for nearly a decade, won the Moskowitz Prize in this year’s EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Is New York City’s Elite High School Exam Unfair?
Officials, equity advocates, and families battle over entrance test for specialized high schools
(EWA Radio: Episode 198)

New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio wants to scrap the entrance exam that determines whether students gain admission to eight specialized public high schools in the city. The move, intended to make the  schools more diverse, has some equity advocates cheering. But a large number of students and families  – including a coalition of Asian-Americans parents who have mounted a lawsuit —  are pushing back about the proposed changes for the elite schools, saying it will squeeze out the most talented kids. Christina Veiga of Chalkbeat New York discusses the equity challenges facing the nation’s largest district, why Asian-American families are mounting a lawsuit to block DeBlasio’s plans, and how early childhood education and gifted and talented programs fit into schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s plans to improve diversity and inclusion throughout the city’s vast network of public schools. Also, Veiga offers advice for journalists on covering diverse campus communities, and story ideas to consider when reporting on issues related to race and inequities in educational opportunities.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

‘Surrounded’: Risky Routes for Los Angeles Students
A Los Angeles Times project examines dangerous commutes for kids in the nation’s second-largest school district
(EWA Radio: Episode 205)

For many Los Angeles students, getting to and from class can be a risky proposition, as they navigate neighborhoods with high rates of homicides. In a new project, education reporter Sonali Kohli crunched the data and found surprising examples where the reality contradicted public perceptions of the “most dangerous” schools. 

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

The Story Behind the Sun Sentinel’s ‘Parkland’ Pulitzer Prize
Reporters discuss covering Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and its aftermath, holding officials accountable, and lessons learned
(EWA Radio: Episode 204)

Heartbreaking. Frightening. Infuriating. All those words apply to the remarkable coverage by the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The newspaper’s reporting since the February 2018 killings earned journalism’s top award this year, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The newspaper pushed back on stonewalling by district leadership and public safety officials to uncover missed opportunities that might have mitigated — or even prevented — the school shooting that left 17 people dead and dozens more seriously injured.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

An American Boy in a Chinese School
In 'Little Soldiers,' journalist shares her family's immersion into Shanghai Province education system, amid China's push for globally competitive students
(EWA Radio: Episode 175)

Around the time that China’s Shanghai province was drawing international attention for top scores on a global exam, U.S. journalist Lenora Chu and her husband moved into their new Shanghai home. They lived just blocks away from a highly-regarded primary school that she calls a “laboratory for Chinese education reform,” and managed to secure a spot for their young son. The next few years gave Chu an inside look into Shanghai’s elite school system, and sparked a deeper interest in education in China.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Minnesota Needs More Teachers of Color. (But So Does Everywhere Else.)
The inter-state battle to attract more diverse teacher workforce
(EWA Radio: Episode 191)

The public school population in Minnesota, as in many other states, is becoming more diverse by race and ethnicity. But the teacher workforce? Not so much. About one-third of Minnesota students are non-white, compared with roughly 5 percent of teachers, as Faiza Mahamud and MaryJo Webster report for the Star Tribune newspaper. That’s a growing problem for educators and policymakers looking to give more students the opportunity to learn from someone who looks like them — a benefit researchers say can improve academic achievement, self esteem, and other factors in student success. Mahamud, who covers the Twin Cities’ public schools, spent time talking with students and families about what they’re looking for in classroom teachers, and how a lack of diversity can hurt family engagement, especially among newer immigrant families. Webster, the newspaper’s data editor, shares the ins and outs of finding — and crunching — statistics on teacher diversity, as well as some lessons learned from the project.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Why Strom Thurmond High School Won’t Change Its Name
The controversial past (and present) of schools named for segregationists.
(EWA Radio: Episode 199)

What’s in a name? That’s an increasingly complex question for communities with public schools named after segregationist politicians. Two Education Week reporters, Corey Mitchell and Andrew Ujifusa, are tracking both the campuses and controversy. Education Week built a database of 22 schools in eight states named for politicians who signed a document known as the “Southern Manifesto,” protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision in 1954 on school desegregation. Increasingly, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center are advocating to turn the controversy into a “teachable moment” for these schools. What’s keeping school officials, including at South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond High School, from renaming campuses? How do students feel about the controversy? And what questions should reporters ask when they dig into the anti-civil rights legacies of these namesakes?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Kansas Needs Nurses. So Why Do Engineering Schools Get More Money?
Dual credit programs, technical colleges getting big boost in Sunflower State
(EWA Radio: Episode 203)

Kansas, like many states, is pouring millions of dollars into dual-credit programs, technical colleges and other initiatives aimed at preparing more students for the so-called “college economy,” where advanced training is a prerequisite for well-paying jobs. But are those investments paying off? In an eight-part series for the Kansas News Service, reporters Celia Llopis-Jepsen and Stephen Bisaha look at the state’s push to get more students into postsecondary programs, and to keep them from taking their highly desirable skill sets to employers in other states. 

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

‘Operation Varsity Blues’: The Real Story Isn’t the Admissions Scandal.
How federal investigation of ‘side doors’ into elite colleges sheds light on larger inequities for underserved students
(EWA Radio: Episode 202)

Nearly 50 people, including 33 parents, have been indicted in what the U.S. Department of Justice is calling its largest-ever fraud investigation in college admissions. Looking beyond the celebrity-driven headlines on bribery and fraud allegations, how can education reporters seize the moment to examine the underlying societal and institutional factors that fuel admissions inequities in postsecondary admissions?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Rocky Times on the Rocky Mountain Education Beat
From teacher strikes and school safety to covering local news in a time of dwindling resources
(EWA Radio: Episode 201)

In Colorado, Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez is covering education and a little bit of everything else. That’s a challenge in a state with plenty of school-related stories, and at a newspaper where recent layoffs are straining newsroom capacity. She discusses the recent Denver teacher strike, the first such labor action in 25 years, as well as her coverage of the rising cost to school districts of investigating social media threats. Hernandez, who is soon moving to take over the higher education beat, explains how she uses social media as a reporting and engagement tool in her daily work, and why reporting on educational equity gaps and the experiences of first-generation college students are among her top priorities. She also discusses taking on a high-profile role speaking out against management decisions — and massive layoffs — by her newspaper’s owners. How has becoming a public advocate for local journalism changed her professional perspective?

EWA Radio Lori Crouch

Behind Bars and in College
Postsecondary education in Illinois’ prison system
(EWA Radio: Episode 200)

If you’re an inmate  in Illinois, what educational programs are available to help you get your life back on track? That’s the question public radio reporter Lee Gaines set out to answer in an ongoing series. As part of an EWA Reporting Fellowship, Gaines looks at how severe budget cuts in Illinois, plus changes to eligibility for federal Pell Grant dollars, have reduced the number of prisoners earning postsecondary credentials and degrees.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

The Schools Named For Segregationists
Communities, schools rethinking ties to anti-Civil Rights namesakes
(EWA Radio: Episode 199)

What’s in a name? That’s an increasingly complex question for communities with public schools named after segregationist politicians. Two Education Week reporters, Corey Mitchell and Andrew Ujifusa, are tracking both the campuses and controversy. Education Week built a database of 22 schools in eight states named for politicians who signed a document known as the “Southern Manifesto,” protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision in 1954 on school desegregation. Increasingly, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center are advocating to turn the controversy into a “teachable moment” for these schools. What’s keeping school officials, including at South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond High School, from renaming campuses? How do students feel about the controversy? And what questions should reporters ask when they dig into the anti-civil rights legacies of these namesakes?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

The Battle Over New York City’s Specialized High Schools
A court challenge to entrance exam in nation’s largest school district puts educational equity in spotlight
(EWA Radio: Episode 198)

New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio wants to scrap the entrance exam that determines whether students gain admission to eight specialized public high schools in the city. The move, intended to make the  schools more diverse, has some equity advocates cheering. But a large number of students and families  – including a coalition of Asian-Americans parents who have mounted a lawsuit —  are pushing back about the proposed changes for the elite schools, saying it will squeeze out the most talented kids. Christina Veiga of Chalkbeat New York discusses the equity challenges facing the nation’s largest district, why Asian-American families are mounting a lawsuit to block DeBlasio’s plans, and how early childhood education and gifted and talented programs fit into schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s plans to improve diversity and inclusion throughout the city’s vast network of public schools. Also, Veiga offers advice for journalists on covering diverse campus communities, and story ideas to consider when reporting on issues related to race and inequities in educational opportunities.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

What’s Betsy DeVos Up To?
School safety, student loans, and Title IX on front burner as U.S. Secretary of Education begins her third year
(EWA Radio: Episode 197)

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos,  now one of President Trump’s longest-serving cabinet members, shows no signs she’s contemplating stepping down before the president’s first term ends. Alyson Klein of Education Week and Emily Wilkins of Bloomberg Government discuss regulatory rollbacks by the U.S. Department of Education on issues including how campus sexual assault claims are handled and consumer protections for student financial aid. They also explore the new political dynamics now that Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives, with Rep. Bobby Scott chairing the Committee on Education and Labor.  What are the odds of Congress passing the long-overdue reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, for example? Plus, Klein and Wilkins identify hot topics that local reporters should keep on their radar, including ESSA implementation by states and whether a federal infrastructure package would provide money for school construction.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

How Beauty School Students Get ‘Tangled Up in Debt’
For-profit colleges promise more than they deliver
(EWA Radio: Episode 196)

In Iowa, private cosmetology schools are reaping big profits at the expense of their students. That’s the key takeaway from a new investigation by reporters Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report. Students are spending upward of $20,000 to earn a cosmetology certificate—comparable to the cost of two associates’ degrees at a community college. Additionally, Iowa’s requirement for 2,100 hours of training, significantly higher than many other states, means students have to wait longer to start their full-time careers. Additionally, they’re often required to work at their school’s salon while taking classes, and bring in revenue by selling services and products. How did Butrymowicz and Kolodner crunch the national and local numbers on outcomes for these for-profit colleges? Who’s holding such programs accountable? And what advice do they have for local reporters covering career certification programs in their own communities?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

For These Boston Valedictorians, Good Grades Weren’t Enough.
K-12 and college systems both failed to prepare and support students, The Boston Globe's investigation finds
(EWA Radio: Episode 195)

Ever wonder what happened to your high school’s valedictorian after graduation? So did The Boston Globe, which set off to track down the city’s top students from the classes of 2005-07. Globe reporters Malcolm Gay and Meghan Irons learned that a quarter of the nearly 100 valedictorians they located failed to complete college within six years. Some had experienced homelessness. Many have struggled in lower-skilled jobs than they had aspired to. What went wrong? To what extent did their high school education fail to prepare them? What should colleges do to better support students? Gay and Irons discuss their project, tell the stories of individual valedictorians, and share tips for journalists looking to undertake similar reporting in their own communities.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Will Cursive Make a Comeback?
States and schools battle over requiring formal handwriting instruction
(EWA Radio: Episode 194)

Has any part of the curriculum come back from the dead as many times as cursive handwriting? From Connecticut to California, lawmakers are alternatively fighting to either mandate or ban cursive instruction, in some cases leaving the verdict up to individual districts and schools. The latter is the case in Maine, reports Noel Gallagher of The Portland Press Herald, where the cursive debate offers a window into the state’s long-held preference for local control. What are some surprising ways mastering the art of cursive writing might help students, according to advocates? And where should reporters be skeptical about claims of purported benefits, particularly when it comes to brain development in younger students?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

‘Lessons Lost’: How Student Churn Holds Back Kids, Schools
In Wisconsin, high student turnover slows school improvement
(EWA Radio: Episode 193)

In an in-depth investigative series, Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looks at how high rates of student mobility — changing schools at least once during an academic year — hurts their academic progress. Among the findings: 1 in 10 students statewide are moving between campuses annually. The figure is significantly higher in Milwaukee, where 1 in 4 students change schools during the year. How do Wisconsin’s school choice options factor into student churn? How did Richards crunch the data? And what solutions are educators and policymakers floating to combat mobility? Richards, who recently joined USA Today as a national education reporter, offers story ideas for local journalists looking at high turnover in their own districts.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

2019 Will Be a Big Year for Education Stories. Here’s Why.
School safety, teacher activism, and Betsy DeVos top list of hot topics
(EWA Radio: Episode 192)

Will school districts change their approach to student discipline in light of recent actions by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? To what extent will the wave of teacher and student activism in 2018 influence public policy in the new year, at both the state and national levels? And why is a forthcoming federal court ruling on affirmative action likely to be a bellwether for elite college admissions? Dana Goldstein, a national education reporter for The New York Times, discusses hot topics to watch in the new year, plus ideas for reporters to localize them. Among her picks: how local districts and colleges might be opting to retain their Obama-era Title IX and civil rights policies, rather than embracing U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ rollback; the growing push to improve civics education, especially as it relates to schools’ responsibilities to prepare students to be informed voters; and the potential impact of a looming federal court decision on whether Harvard’s affirmative action policies discriminate against Asian-American applicants. Also, Goldstein offers insights for reporters covering what’s next in light of of last year’s wave of teacher walkouts and school shootings, and offers suggestions for taking fresh angles on familiar school choice stories. 

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Who’s Teaching the 13,000 Migrant Kids in Federal Custody?
US News investigation finds little oversight of multi-billion dollar business for education services contractors
(EWA Radio: Episode 184)

Thousands of migrant children have been taken into custody while crossing the border into the U.S., either on their own or while traveling with family members. While they await a court date, the federal government is required to provide school-age detainees—being held in facilities across the country—with daily schooling. Lauren Camera of U.S. News & World Report asks some tough questions in her report about accountability and oversight of what’s turned into a multi-billion dollar business for the private contractors providing these services. What’s known about the children (primarily from Central America) being detained and their educational needs? What academic instruction and services does federal law require school-age detainees to receive? How well are those requirements being met inside the shelters? Why has the number of children being detained spiked sharply, from about 2,400 in May 2017 to its current level of nearly 13,000? Where is the money coming from to pay for the mandated academic instruction? And what are some story ideas for local reporters who might have migrant children being held in custody in their own communities?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is Resigning. These Students Will Remember Him as a Great Interview.
How two high schoolers scored a rare chance to question the cabinet official.
(EWA Radio: Episode 131)

With U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ Dec. 20 announcement of his forthcoming resignation from President Trump’s cabinet, here’s a chance to revisit our conversation with two student journalists who scored a rare interview with the highly regarded military leader. 

Teddy Fischer and Jane Gormley of Mercer Island High School in Washington State discuss how they landed a lengthy Q&A with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who has given few interviews since joining President Trump’s cabinet. Fischer, a rising junior, and Gormley, the immediate past editor of the school’s student newspaper, worked with their journalism class and faculty advisor to prepare for the 45-minute conversation on Memorial Day. Among the issues Mattis discussed: the role education plays in combatting the rise of radicalization and extremism, and suggestions for how U.S. high schools might foster better relations between the U.S. and other countries. Fischer and Gormley share the backstory to their surprisingly wide-ranging interview, the editorial process that went into its publication, and what they’ve learned from the experience.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Wanted: More Teachers of Color
In Minnesota, growing student diversity is outpacing the educator workforce
(EWA Radio: Episode 191)

The public school population in Minnesota, as in many other states, is becoming more diverse by race and ethnicity. But the teacher workforce? Not so much. About one-third of Minnesota students are non-white, compared with roughly 5 percent of teachers, as Faiza Mahamud and MaryJo Webster report for the Star Tribune newspaper. That’s a growing problem for educators and policymakers looking to give more students the opportunity to learn from someone who looks like them — a benefit researchers say can improve academic achievement, self esteem, and other factors in student success. Mahamud, who covers the Twin Cities’ public schools, spent time talking with students and families about what they’re looking for in classroom teachers, and how a lack of diversity can hurt family engagement, especially among newer immigrant families. Webster, the newspaper’s data editor, shares the ins and outs of finding — and crunching — statistics on teacher diversity, as well as some lessons learned from the project.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

College Dreams Meet Reality in ‘Tennessee Promise’ Land
Community colleges, technical programs key to access but opportunity gaps persist
(EWA Radio: Episode 190)

In 2015, Tennessee began offering free community college to the state’s new high school graduates, part of a massive effort to push the needle on educational attainment. Three years later, the “Tennessee Promise” initiative gets close scrutiny in a new project by EWA Reporting Fellows Adam Tamburin and Jason Gonzales of The Tennessean. While there was a statistically significant increase in community college enrollment, students still struggle with outside factors like a lack of preparedness for the rigors of college classes or needing to work to support themselves and their families. Among the conclusions: If the “Tennessee Promise” is to be more effective, students pursuing degrees and career certifications need more support and resources far beyond tuition assistance. The reporting team also analyzed ZIP code data, finding significant gaps in postsecondary attainment. Residents in poorer, rural areas, sometimes called “higher ed deserts,” were the least likely to continue their education beyond high school. So what has worked? What hasn’t? What are early lessons of the program?  How can reporters in other communities report on the effectiveness of similar “free college” or college access programs?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Does Harvard Discriminate Against Asian-American Applicants?
Lawsuit could be Supreme Court test case for affirmative action, experts say
(EWA Radio: Episode 189)

A federal judge is expected to rule this winter on whether Harvard University discriminated against Asian-American applicants. The decision could have far-reaching implications for affirmative action at the nation’s colleges and universities.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

It’s Not Just the Schools: Why Helping Families in Poverty Could Boost Students’ Test Scores
A review of research finds positive benefits to boosting family well-being
(EWA Radio: Episode 183)

In the debate over how to boost student achievement, especially among kids from low-income families, out-of-school factors are often cited as hurdles that even the best school-based programs and services can’t fully overcome. But what about programs that focus on lifting an entire family out of poverty?

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Why Do Spies Love U.S. Colleges?
New book digs into foreign and domestic espionage in higher education
(EWA Radio: Episode 186)

Spy Schools cover image

In his recent book, “Spy Schools,” veteran higher education journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Golden builds a compelling case that the globalization of American universities has made them fertile territory for espionage. Using case studies and sometimes stunning revelations, he shows how foreign operatives are exploiting access to get a better understanding of U.S. policies and practices, and, in some cases, to steal valuable scientific research.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Get Out the (Teen) Vote
How school shootings, Trump, and campus activism are shaping civic engagement
(EWA Radio: Episode 188)

What’s on the minds of teens eligible to vote for the first time this year? Where do they get the news and information that’s shaping their views of candidates? How have their families, school experiences, and recent current events like the Parkland school shooting and President Trump’s agenda influenced their political awareness? Alyson Klein of Education Week takes us inside the publication’s new poll of voters ages 18 and 19, sharing insights from follow-up interviews with some survey respondents.

EWA Radio Rick Wilson

Tinker Tailor Student Spy
New book digs into espionage in U.S. higher education
(EWA Radio: Episode 186)

Spy Schools cover image

In his recent book, “Spy Schools,” veteran higher education journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Golden builds a compelling case that the globalization of American universities has made them fertile territory for espionage. Using case studies and sometimes stunning revelations, he shows how foreign operatives are exploiting access to get a better understanding of U.S. policies and practices, and, in some cases, to steal valuable scientific research.