1999 National Awards for Education Reporting

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Education Writers Association (EWA), the national professional association of education reporters and writers, today announced the winners of the 1999 National Awards for Education Reporting, the most prestigious national competition for education writing. The annual contest honors the best education reporting in the print and broadcast media and is the only independent contest of its kind in the United States. Contest entries were limited to stories published or broadcast for the first time during the 1999 calendar year.

A total of 459 entries were judged in this year’s contest. First place winners receive a cash prize of $250 and a plaque. Winners of second prizes and special citations each receive a certificate. The Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, which includes an award of $1,000 and a plaque, was presented to Tim Simmons of the Raleigh News & Observer for his package of stories on the Black-White Achievement Gap. All prizes, including the announcement of the Grand Prize, were be presented at the annual awards banquet April 15 at 6:30 p.m. during the Education Writers Association’s 53rd National Seminar, April 13-15, 2000, at the Sheraton Colony Square Hotel in Atlanta.

Contest judging was conducted independently, under the direction of Chief Judge Steve Barkin of the College of Journalism, University of Maryland. This year’s panel of distinguished judges included: David Bartlett, Vice President, Rowan & Blewitt, Inc.; Ron Cohen, Executive Editor, Gannett News Service; Mike Doyle, McClatchey Newspapers; Chris Harvey, Managing Editor, American Journalism Review; Haynes Johnson, Knight Chair, College of Journalism, University of Maryland; Vicky Medina, Principal, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Prince George’s County Schools, Md.; Patsy Pressley, Development Coordinator, National Association of Black Journalists; Frank Quine, College of Journalism, University of Maryland; Jan Schaffer, Pew Center for Civic Journalism; and Miranda Spivack, Editor, Prince George’s Extra, Washington Post.

Recent winners of the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting include Deb Kollars, Sacramento Bee; Jacques Steinberg, The New York Times; and Robert Frahm and Rick Green, The Hartford Courant.

Prizes are awarded in the following categories:




A. Breaking or Hard News

  • 1st Prize: Jennifer Rose Marino - Savannah (Ga.) Morning News – “A War Over Words”
  • Special Citation: Lisa Elliott Deffendall - The Tuscaloosa (Al.) News – “The Best Laid Plans?”

B. Feature

  • 1st Prize: Kathryn C. Eastburn - Colorado Springs Independent“No Way Out”
  • 2nd Prize: Eric EyreSunday Gazette-Mail, Charleston, W.V. – “Silent Success”

C. News Feature or Issue Package

  • 1st Prize: Nigel JaquissWillamette Week, Portland, Oreg. – “None of the Above”
  • 2nd Prize: Lisa RolandThe Times, Shreveport, La. – “Our Schools: A Progress Report”
  • Special Citation: Frank SchultzThe Janesville Gazette, Janesville, Wisc. – “Home-Foolers Foil Authorities”

D. Series or Group of Articles

  • 1st Prize: Marjorie Coeyman, Stephanie Cook, Mark Clayton and Gail Russell ChaddockThe Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Mass. – “Reinventing Our Public Schools”
  • 2nd Prize: Randal Edgar and Staff, Waterbury (Ct.) Republican-American – “Teacher Absences”
  • Special Citation: Erin M. Walsh - Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal – “Failing Schools, Fragile Lives”

E. Investigative Reporting

  • 1st Prize (Tie): Sean Patrick Lyons and Staff – Waterbury (Ct.) Republican-American “A System Padded with Patronage”
  • 1st Prize (Tie) Brian Hansen, Pamela White, Terje Langeland, Mark Collins and Amanda Hill, Colorado Daily, Boulder, Co. – “Investigation of University of Colorado President”
  • 2nd Prize: Eric EyreSunday Gazette-Mail, Charleston, W.Va. – “State School Superintendent’s Secret Fund”
  • Special Citation: Kristen KingThe Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. – “Monitoring the Monitors”

F. Opinion

  • 1st Prize: John P. Young – Waco (Tx.) Tribune-Herald – “Rx for TAAS”
  • Special Citation: Paul LocherThe Daily Record, Wooster, Oh. – “Doesn’t Anybody Out There Care?”

G. Special Section or Page

  • 1st Prize: Carol Trapani, Kathleen Norton, Dolores Pinto, John A. Torres and Michelle Vellucci et al. - Poughkeepsie Journal, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. – “Heralding the New Millennium”
  • 2nd Prize: Kimberly MillerThe News Press, Fort Myers, Fla. – “School Settlement Splits Community”
  • Special Citation (Tie): Elissa Bass, Judy Benson, Kelly J. Carter, Noelle Crombie and Joe WojtasThe Day, New London,Ct. “Education Section”
  • Special Citation (Tie): Gary Jahrig - The Missoulian, Missoula, Mont. – “Schools Page”



A. Breaking or Hard News

  • 1st Prize: Celeste Smith, Debbie Cenziper, Jennifer Wing Rothacker and Ted MellnikThe Charlotte (N.C.) Observer – “Deciding Desegregation”
  • 2nd Prize: Beverly MedlynThe Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz. – “College Savings Program”
  • Special Citation: Lynn Hulsey and Mark FisherDayton Daily News – “Dayton Schools Finances in Shambles”

B. Feature

  • 1st Prize: Chris MoranThe San Diego Union-Tribune, Chula Vista, Calif. – “A Life’s Lesson”
  • 2nd Prize: Jeannette BatzRiverfront Times, St. Louis, Mo. – “Guess Who’s Coming to Math Class?”
  • Special Citation: Daniel GoldenThe Wall Street Journal – “Making the Grade”

C. News Feature or Issue Package

  • 1st Prize: John Gittelsohn and Bruce ChambersThe Orange County Register - “Educating Alex”
  • 2nd Prize: Kate ZernikeThe Boston Globe – “MIT Women Fight Against Bias”
  • Special Citation: Tamara Henry and Anthony DeBarrosUSA Today – “The School Construction Divide”

D. Series or Group of Articles

  • 1st Prize: Tim SimmonsThe News and Observer, Raleigh, N.C. – “Worlds Apart”
  • 2nd Prize (Tie): Lisa Chedekel and Rick GreenThe Hartford Courant, Hartford, Ct. - “We Will Never Be Last Again”
  • 2nd Prize (Tie): Howard LibitThe Baltimore Sun – “Cracking the Code”
  • Special Citation: Debbie Cenziper, Ted Mellnik, Celeste Smith and Jim MorrillThe Charlotte Observer – “Deciding Desegregation”

E. Investigative Reporting

  • 1st Prize: Jane Elizabeth Zemel and Steve TwedtPittsburgh Post-Gazette “Dirty Secrets”
  • 2nd Prize: Melvin Claxton and Charles Hurt - The Detroit News “Wasted Dollars, Broken Buildings”
  • Special Citation: Mike Fish and David MillironThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution - “The Gender Gap”

F. Opinion

  • 1st Prize: Linda ValdezThe Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz. – “Early Childhood Well-Being”
  • 2nd Prize: Bill Johnson and Tom Shull – The Detroit News – “Building Blocks for Detroit’s Schools”
  • Special Citation: Tim A. Chavez – The Tennessean, Nashville, Tenn. – “Students, Teachers and Their Schools Citation in Need During a Time of Plenty”

G. Special Section or Page

  • 1st Prize: Kate Taylor, Lisa Daniels, Robin Franzen, Gillian Gaynair, Spencer Heinz, Romel Hernandez, Inara Verzemnieks, Chris Broderick, Susan Gage and Michael WaldenThe Oregonian, Portland, Oreg. – “3 to 6: The Teen Alone Zone”
  • 2nd Prize: Kate SeagoThe Dallas Morning News – “Education Extra”



(including magazines produced as separate sections of newspapers)

A. National Magazine

  • 1st Prize: Todd OppenheimerThe Atlantic Monthly – “Schooling the Imagination”
  • 2nd Prize: Kelly King Alexander - Parents Magazine – “The New Classroom”
  • Special Citation: Thomas Toch, Debra Viadero, Holly Holland, Dale Mezzacappa, Dan McGraw, Citation Marc Silver, Joellen Perry, Brendan I. Koerner and Debra Dickerson - US News and World Report – “Outstanding American High Schools”

B. Regional or Local Magazine

  • 1st Prize: Jennifer O’Donnell - Tidewater Parent, Virginia Beach, Va. – “Hitting the Books”



  • 1st Prize: Kevin BushwellerAmerican School Board Journal – “Generation of Cheaters”
  • 2nd Prize: Rebecca JonesAmerican School Board Journal – “I Don’t Feel Safe Here Anymore”
  • Special Citation: Lynn Olson, Debra Viadero and Robert C. JohnstonEducation Week – “Lessons of a Century”



A. Hard News and Investigative

B. Documentary and Feature

  • 1st Prize: Michael Chandler and Sharon Tiller – WGBH Frontline West, Berkeley, CA – “Secrets of the SAT”
  • 2nd Prize: Celeste Ford – WABC-TV, New York , N.Y. – “P.S. 111: The Race to Read”
  • Special Citation: Jeff Hirsch, Gary Wuerdeman – WKRC-TV – Cincinnati, Oh. – “Mainstreaming Amanda”



(a single program or series of reports on the same subject or theme)

  • 1st Prize: Kathryn Baron – KQED FM, San Francisco, Ca. – “Education Reform”
  • 2nd Prize: Susan Hansen – Vermont Public Radio, Colchester, Vt. – “Governor Dean at Hinesburg Elementary”