In Massachusetts, a referendum on charter schools is drawing national attention. At issue is whether to raise the state cap on the number of independently operated, publicly funded campuses, and allow existing schools to boost enrollment. But there is also unusually aggressive – and expensive — campaigning on both sides of the issue, raising questions about outside influence on the decision before Massachusetts voters.
James Vaznis of The Boston Globe talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about what’s at stake on the upcoming ballot, whether the Bay State’s reputation for high-achieving charter schools pans out, and how questions of diversity and equity factor into the fight.
Who needs preschool? What do we know about the programs that produce the best long-term results? And why is America lagging so far behind many countries in providing high-quality, affordable programs to young learners?
In a six-part series for The Hechinger Report, Lillian Mongeau examines the latest research, visits classrooms in the U.S. and abroad, and looks at efforts to raise the bar for certification and training for early childhood educators. She talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about what she learned in places like Boston and England, and offers smart story ideas for reporters in their own communities.
A new investigation by the Houston Chronicle finds that the Lone Star State took unusual steps to severely cut its special education programs — keeping hundreds of thousands of potentially qualified students from receiving services.
Chronicle reporter Brian Rosenthal talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about crunching the numbers, how this has impacted students and families, and what’s next in his reporting.
Today’s assignment: Reporting on the nation’s largest school district, with 1.1 million students and an operating budget of $25 billion. Patrick Wall of Chalkbeat New York has dug deep into the city’s special education programs, investigated whether school choice programs are contributing to student segregation rather than reducing it, and penned a three-part series on on one high school’s effort to reinvent itself. He talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about his work, and offers tips for making the most of student interviews, getting access to campuses, and balancing bigger investigations with daily coverage. A first-prize winner for beat reporting in this year’s EWA Awards, Wall is spending the current academic year at Columbia University’s School of Journalism as a Spencer Fellow.
Millions of high school graduates show up for the first day of college academically unprepared for the rigors of higher ed. And that’s where remedial (or “developmental”) education comes into play. Students don’t get academic credit for these classes even though they still cost them in time and money. And there’s another problem: being placed in even one remedial class as a freshman — particularly at a community college — can significantly reduce a student’s odds of ever completing a degree.
Michael Vasquez shares the backstory to his “Eddie” prize-winning series for The Miami Herald on for-profit colleges in the Sunshine State. Now education editor at Politico, Vasquez and EWA public editor Emily Richmond also discuss whether the federal government’s efforts to regulate for-profit colleges go far enough, as well as some story ideas for reporters tackling the higher education beat in the coming academic year.
What will it take for the federal government to provide American Indian and Alaskan Native students with the schooling and services they’ve long been promised?
For more than two decades, “Savage Inequalities” — a close look at school funding disparities nationwide — has been required reading at many colleges and universities. And with a growing number of states facing legal challenges to how they fund their local schools, author Jonathan Kozol’s work has fresh relevance. Education journalists Lauren Camera (US News & World Report) and Christine Sampson (East Hampton Star) talk with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about how Kozol’s book has influenced their own reporting.
Why is an organization known as the Satanic Temple launching a national push to add after-school clubs in public elementary schools? And what does the group hope to accomplish when it comes to challenging perceived violations to the separation between church and state? Journalist Katherine Stewart, a contributing writer to The Washington Post, discusses her reporting on the controversy, which developed in response to the “Good News Clubs” — backed by a fundamentalist Christian organization — that have sprung up in thousands of elementary schools nationwide.
Stewart and EWA public editor Emily Richmond also discuss ideas for local reporters covering First Amendment and religious freedom issues in their own communities.
Ben Herold of Education Week explains why “Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom” is a smart read for reporters, even 13 years after Stanford Professor Larry Cuban wrote it. Herold and public editor Emily Richmond discuss the value of stepping back from day-to-day coverage of the latest education trends to evaluate just how “new” it really is. And Herold shares Cuban’s savvy advice for bringing a skeptical eye to classroom observations.
Veteran education writer Paul Jablow and multimedia journalist Dorian Geiger discuss their documentary of a young man who escaped the drugs and violence of his West Philadelphia neighborhood thanks to the intensive interventions of a network of support, including his mother, teachers, and social workers. Glen Casey is now a successful student at the University of Pennsylvania and plans on a teaching career. But how unusual is his story, particularly in a public school system of ever-dwindling resources?
Unlike some other college ranking formulas, Money on the return on investment: how big a boost is a degree from a particular school when it comes to landing top-tier jobs after graduation?
Annie Waldman of ProPublica digs deep into New Jersey’s college financial aid program, which critics have called “state-sanctioned loan sharking”. In a particularly egregious case in which the state demanded a mother continue to pay off her son’s college loan even after he was murdered.
Waldman talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about why New Jersey wields more power than other state-based financial aid programs, how difficult it would be to make the policies and practices more forgiving, and ideas for local reporters writing about college affordability and student debt.
There’s another small country getting attention for its strong student performance on international assessments, and for the equity of its instructional programs.
Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report joins EWA public editor Emily Richmond to discuss how more eyes are looking beyond Finland to nearby Estonia, a relatively young country with an already impressive academic track record. What lessons might there be for U.S. schools when it comes to teacher workforce, and putting more educational choices in the hands of the students themselves? And what challenges are Estonian schools facing as more students opt for the college-prep high school track over vocational or career training?
The press releases from Chicago Public Schools seemed almost too good to be true: the city’s graduation rate was rising more quickly than even its staunchest supporters might have predicted.
But what happened after reporters Becky Vevea and Sarah Karp uncovered discrepancies in those numbers, and raised serious questions about the city’s dropout prevention polices and practices. Vevea (WBEZ) and Karp (formerly of Catalyst Chicago and now with WBEZ) talk with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about their award-winning investigation, the significant changes to district policy that have followed in its wake, and some examples of CPS programs that are making legitimate strides toward helping more students graduate.
Thanks to Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda and two nonprofit groups, thousands of public high school students in New York City are getting access to the hottest ticket in town.
Wayne D’Orio, editor in chief of Scholastic magazine, joins EWA public editor Emily Richmond to discuss an innovative curriculum built around the hip-hop infused musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first secretary of the treasury. How are teachers using the show as a springboard to connect students to challenging academic content aligned to New York’s Common Core State Standards? Why is the show so popular with Advanced Placement U.S. History classes? And what are some smart story ideas of other pop culture influences being used by teachers to engage kids?
For the first time in the nation’s history, students of color outnumber their white peers in public school classrooms. In a new 12-part series for Slate, The Teacher Project at Columbia University explores what that means for students, teachers, schools, and broader communities stretching from Boston to Hawaii.
Sarah Carr, editor of The Teacher Project, talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about why terminology matters when reporting on school diversity, the challenge of preparing a largely white, female teacher workforce for working with diverse student populations, and how de facto school segregation continues to influence opportunities and outcomes for kids of color.
As Casey McDermott reports for New Hampshire Public Radio, teachers in the Granite State are increasingly functioning as de facto case managers for vulnerable students. She talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about the issues facing youth and their families, ranging from homelessness to food insecurity to substance abuse. The focus on vulnerable students is part of NHPR’s new “State of Democracy” project, examining the real-world implications of policy decisions.
Education journalist Shelby Webb of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune spent six months digging into student suspensions and expulsions in Florida, and her findings took the local school board by surprise: Sarasota County has the second-highest rate of expulsions in the Sunshine State. But the district’s process for expulsions was certainly built for volume: as many as 14 students have been expelled with a single “yes” vote by school board members, some of whom haven’t even read the background on the individual students’ cases. The Herald-Tribune’s project also examines questions of equity of school discipline policies across Florida where — echoing a nationwide trend — many students of color face more severe punishments than their white peers.
What’s behind a cluster of student suicides in the heart of ultra-competitive Silicon Valley?
In a cover story for The Atlantic, journalist Hanna Rosin investigated a disturbing cycle stretching back more than a decade for Palo Alto and Gunn high schools. She spoke with EWA public editor Emily Richmond: How are local educators, parents, and students are responding to the crisis? What’s next for the investigation by federal health officials? And how can reporters improve their own coverage of these kinds of challenging issues? Rosin’s story, “The Silicon Valley Suicides” won 1st Prize for magazine feature writing in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.
A new federal directive intended to protect the rights of transgender students is causing waves for states and school districts.
Evie Blad of Education Week discusses the fallout from North Carolina’s new law — the first of its kind in the nation — setting limits on bathroom access for public school students who identify as transgender. She and EWA public editor Emily Richmond also discuss what might happen if states ignore the White House’s guidance, and how education journalists can approach their reporting on these issues with cultural sensitivity.
How fair are controversial new tests being used by some states to certify teachers? Who are the prospective classroom educators struggling the most with the often costly, time-consuming process? And how might this impact efforts to diversify nation’s predominantly white, female, teacher workforce?
Writer Peggy Barmore of The Hechinger Report discusses these issues with EWA public editor Emily Richmond.
Update: On May 2, “Failure Factories” won the $10,000 Hechinger Grand Prize in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.
The Pulitzer Prize for local reporting this year went to the Tampa Bay Times for an exhaustive investigation into how a handful of elementary schools in Pinellas County wound up deeply segregated by race, poverty, and opportunity.
Is “school choice” a misnomer in Detroit, where options for students hinge heavily on their ability to find their own transportation?
Are education reporters unwittingly contributing to the hysteria over elite college admissions? What do policymakers say needs to be done to ramp down the tension without dimming enthusiasm among students? And how did the perception of college admissions as inaccessible to most — when the reverse is actually more accurate — become so pervasive?
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.
Washington lawmakers and school choice advocates are scrambling to keep charter schools open in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that declared the independently operated campuses unconstitutional. A compromise bill awaits Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature, and the families of more than 1,000 students are hoping for a last-minute legislative save.
We know many American students struggle with math and trail many of their international peers. Conventional wisdom says that’s keeping them from developing the kind of critical thinking skills they need for high-paying STEM careers, and to be successful in a 21st century global economy. But is that shortsighted view of a bigger — and more positive — picture?
It’s a challenging time for colleges and universities: There’s little patience for school leaders seen as lagging in their response to campus controversies; social media is reshaping, and amplifying, student activism; and there is a growing push for accountability, including measuring faculty quality.
Steve Reilly, an investigative reporter and data specialist for USA Today, talks with EWA public editor about his newspaper’s groundbreaking year-long project examining shortfalls in how states track, and share information, about teacher discipline and licensing issues.
In the Windy City, one out of every 10 high schoolers is enrolled at a campus in the Noble Network of Charter Schools. And while Noble students typically perform well, the network is facing some growing pains in the nation’s third-largest school district. Among the challenges: An increasingly diverse student population, competition for enrollment from traditional Chicago Public Schools campuses seeking to reinvent themselves, and concerns about Noble’s strict discipline policies and emphasis on preparing for the ACT college entrance exam.
Many community college students dream of making the transition to a four-year institution but the application process can be daunting – especially if you don’t have experienced family members to ask for help. Enter the “Pushy Moms” at LaGuardia Community College, a volunteer group of mothers well-versed in the ins and outs of the higher education admissions maze.
What started as Princeton University senior Wendy Kopp’s undergraduate thesis is now has a $300 million operating budget and 40,000 alumni.
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.
A new report from a coalition of educators suggests it’s time to rein in ambitious students (and their families) when it comes applying to the nation’s top colleges and universities.
New York City is one of the world’s great melting pots — so why aren’t efforts to diversify its schools taking hold?
He spoke with EWA Public Editor Emily Richmond about some of the complexities of New York CIty’s multilayered approach for sorting students, and shared ideas for local reporters looking to dive into the data on school diversity in their own communities.
Scott Jaschik, editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed, shares his thoughts on the coming year with EWA Radio. Among the topics he and public editor Emily Richmond tackle in this episode: Will 2015’s widespread campus protests over racial issues carry over into the New Year? How will community college factor into state funding formulas for higher education? Why are younger U.S. military veterans an ever-growing market for universities? And what should reporters watch out for when reporting on the intersection of politics and education policy?
With school back in session and a new federal education law on the books, K-12 reporter Motoko Rich of the New York Times shares her predictions for the hot topics on the education beat in 2016, as well as some of her favorite stories of the past year produced by other journalists. She also offers some smart tips for reporters looking to localize national issues for their own audiences.
For already struggling students in high-poverty schools, frequent turnover among their teachers – and an over-reliance on substitutes – can hurt achievement.
Faced with massive budget cuts in the wake of the recession, many Idaho school districts switched to a four-day weekly calendar. But more than seven years into the experiment, an investigation by Idaho Education News – lead by reporter Kevin Richert — found little evidence that the schedule change improved either student achievement or the fiscal outlook of cash-strapped districts.
John Merrow began his journalism career in 1974 with National Public Radio, and retired this summer as special correspondent with PBS Newshour. Along the way he racked up a slew of awards, broke big stories, and created a documentary production company.
Thousands of the nation’s smaller school districts struggle to get even the most basic Internet services, making it difficult to take advantage of the wealth of classroom technology that’s giving students more options for how, what, and when they learn.
Reporting the “Unsettled Journeys” project for the Baltimore Sun, veteran education reporter Liz Bowie spent eight months talking to students and staff at Patterson High School.
What does it really take to help students succeed at school and life, and how much of those gains can really be measured by test scores?
Those are some of the questions journalist Kristina Rizga set out to answer in her reporting on a San Francisco high school, first published by Mother Jones magazine. Her investigation turned into a four-year project and the new book “Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph.”
In 2013, Chicago education reporter Sarah Karp asked a question: Why was a no-bid contract for $20 million awarded to a relatively unknown company chosen to provide professional development services in the nation’s third-largest school district?