School Climate & Safety
School Board Races Heat Up Around Country
Often overshadowed, these local elections can have big consequences
While the election cycle spotlight typically focuses on state and federal movers and shakers, the outcomes of local school board races this fall could shake up education policies and priorities at the local level in many communities, with seats up for grabs from coast to coast.
One year after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, students and educators are still grappling with the physical and emotional damage left by the storm, reports Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa.
In the year since #HurricaneMaria, Education Week has been following the story of Puerto Rico’s devastation and the island’s slow rebuilding as seen through the eyes of educators and students. See all of our coverage here: https://t.co/kepJp7wLpQ pic.twitter.com/9BV3r8IYub
In the year since #HurricaneMaria, Education Week has been following the story of Puerto Rico’s devastation and the island’s slow rebuilding as seen through the eyes of educators and students. See all of our coverage here: https://t.co/kepJp7wLpQ pic.twitter.com/9BV3r8IYub— Education Week (@educationweek) September 19, 2018
In Memphis, a decision to halt an investigation into improper grade changing is raising questions about whether anyone will be held accountable, writes Chalkbeat’s Laura Faith Kebede.
One year ago, Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico. For the educators, students, and parents who remain on the island, nothing has been the same since.
In sheer practical terms, they are grappling with lingering storm damage, shifts in school assignments after hundreds of buildings were closed in the wake of the hurricane, and the implications of a system-wide reorganization.
In a new radio documentary, APM Reports’ Emily Hanford looks at why teaching reading has become so controversial — and ineffective — in many U.S. classrooms.
As a nation, we've come to accept a high percentage of kids not reading well. But we shouldn't. Science shows clearly how kids learn to read and how they should be taught. Why are so many schools not doing it? https://t.co/Qt9y45Xmbv #TellEWA Listen on @EducatePodcast
As a nation, we've come to accept a high percentage of kids not reading well. But we shouldn't. Science shows clearly how kids learn to read and how they should be taught. Why are so many schools not doing it? https://t.co/Qt9y45Xmbv #TellEWA Listen on @EducatePodcast— Emily Hanford (@ehanford) September 10, 2018
At a time of federal “zero tolerance” policies on immigration, students from immigrant families in the Washington, D.C., area are struggling to stay focused on their academics, reports Jenny Abamu of WAMU.
Jalijah Jones, then a freshman at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan, remembers the punch of thousands of volts hitting his slight frame. At 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing 120 pounds, he was small for his age.
He remembers four school security guards officers pushing him up against a hallway wall before a school police officer arrived and Tasered him. He remembers a feeling of intense cold as if his high school hallway had just turned into a walk-in freezer. He remembers falling to the ground, his muscles betraying his mind’s desire to stand.
While many Chicago Public School students have lost a classmate to gun violence, staff say it’s especially common in alternative high schools.
Some 425 Chicago public school students died between the 2013-14 and 2016-17 school years, according to a Chicago Reporter analysis of student transfer records. One in four attended an alternative high school, though these schools accounted for only around 2 percent of the district’s enrollment in that time period. Most of the alternative high schools where students died had a student body that was nearly all African-American.
To an anguished question that often follows school shootings — Why didn’t anyone spot the warning signs? — these companies have answered with a business model: 24/7 monitoring of student activity on social media.
Often without advance warning to students and parents, the companies flag posts like those of Auseel Yousefi, who was expelled in 2013 from his high school in Huntsville, Ala., for Twitter posts made on the last day of his junior year. “A kid has a right to be who they want outside of school,” he said later.
The National Education Association is hoping a crash course in campaigning will help educators running for public office, reports Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz.
The nation's largest teachers' union held a two-day training for teachers who are running for political office. They practiced cold-calling for donations and learned other campaign strategies. @s_e_schwartz reports from the ground: https://t.co/ExK3VGidQo #tellEWA
The nation's largest teachers' union held a two-day training for teachers who are running for political office. They practiced cold-calling for donations and learned other campaign strategies. @s_e_schwartz reports from the ground: https://t.co/ExK3VGidQo #tellEWA— Maddy Will (@madeline_will) September 6, 2018
For the Tampa Bay Times, Claire McNeill examines why some students of color feel isolated at Florida’s flagship university.
In Washington state, Katie Gillespie of The Columbian asks teachers on the picket lines what keeps them going despite frustrations with the job.
My #TellEWA submission this week is all the reporting @a_littman and I have done on six teacher strikes in Clark County. Three remain on the picket lines. My Sunday profile: https://t.co/ULxJ5B1mrj All our coverage: https://t.co/90gSdXW2wP
My #TellEWA submission this week is all the reporting @a_littman and I have done on six teacher strikes in Clark County. Three remain on the picket lines. My Sunday profile: https://t.co/ULxJ5B1mrj All our coverage: https://t.co/90gSdXW2wP— Katie Gillespie (@newsladykatie) September 5, 2018
Glancing at his arm, now fully extended and pointing slightly upward, Frisch realized something: He was inadvertently pantomiming the Nazi salute. Frisch is a practicing Quaker, but his father was Jewish, and two of his great-grandmothers were killed at Auschwitz. Mortified, he searched for some way to defuse the awkwardness of the moment. And then he said it: “Heil Hitler!”
More Than Numbers: Getting Inside the Data on Student Absenteeism
As states prepare for new ESSA reporting requirements, advocates push for accountability, raising family awareness
With a new federal accountability mandate looming, teachers and school administrators are trying just about everything to improve student attendance — from offering cold cash to students who show up regularly to texting warning messages to parents when their kids miss class.
These efforts come as some advocates and researchers warn that the nation faces a “chronic absenteeism” crisis.
To address chronic absenteeism, schools are experimenting with punishments and rewards, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Tawnell Hobbs.
With the number of chronically-absent students at 8 million, schools are finding ways to get them to class — from installing laundry rooms to raffling TVs to fining parents. This school year, some states will consider truant kids in school ratings https://t.co/xB4NmTFGXA #tellewa
With the number of chronically-absent students at 8 million, schools are finding ways to get them to class — from installing laundry rooms to raffling TVs to fining parents. This school year, some states will consider truant kids in school ratings https://t.co/xB4NmTFGXA #tellewa— Tawnell Hobbs (@Tawnell) August 30, 2018
As The Oregonian’s Bethany Barnes reports, the reopening of a historic middle school is shedding light on Portland’s complicated history of educating black children.
A look at the revival of Portland's Harriet Tubman Middle School, through the eyes of a parent who is counting on the school to do right by her daughter:
Principal Natasha Butlerhttps://t.co/w5PLxTlBYp w/ amazing photos by @bethnakamura pic.twitter.com/1GIxAQl73y
A look at the revival of Portland's Harriet Tubman Middle School, through the eyes of a parent who is counting on the school to do right by her daughter:
For the Associated Press, Sally Ho examines Bill Gates’ investments in education reform, new and old.
Covering philanthropy strategy in education, casual readers often ask me why there's such tension over @BillGates' money in schools reform. Here's a quick-hit overview about the evolution of Gates' major programs, his motivations & the outcomes/ fallout: https://t.co/4dmz7JMv0w
Covering philanthropy strategy in education, casual readers often ask me why there's such tension over @BillGates' money in schools reform. Here's a quick-hit overview about the evolution of Gates' major programs, his motivations & the outcomes/ fallout: https://t.co/4dmz7JMv0w— Sally Ho (@_sallyho) August 29, 2018
When Harrison Fowler heard about the counseling center at Stanford, where he enrolled as a freshman last fall, he decided to finally do something about the angst he had been struggling with for a long time.
Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Teachers
New polls shed light on public attitudes toward public schools, declining enthusiasm for teaching profession
Two new national polls provide insights into Americans’ attitudes and perceptions of public education, and provide plenty of fodder for reporters looking for story ideas on the teacher workforce, school choice, and funding priorities.
This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.” The number is far higher than most other estimates.
Responding to a steep rise in reports of hate crimes on campus, at least 260 colleges and universities have implemented bias-response teams or other reporting policies to track such incidents. But the teams have created friction of their own, as conservative students, controversial speakers and followers of the alt-right movement claim colleges are sanitizing campuses of dissent, in violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech.
As a new school year begins, The Oklahoman’s Ben Felder explores the impact of teacher walkouts and where Oklahoma schools go from here.
It's the first new school year since the state’s public education system was rocked by a two-week teacher walkout. #oklaed You can find all four stories from the After the Walkout series right here: https://t.co/flZqs68pO5 pic.twitter.com/1Q5JqqiUVY
It's the first new school year since the state’s public education system was rocked by a two-week teacher walkout. #oklaed You can find all four stories from the After the Walkout series right here: https://t.co/flZqs68pO5 pic.twitter.com/1Q5JqqiUVY— Ben Felder (@benfelder_okc) August 22, 2018
In Puerto Rico, students recently returned to schools where the effects of Hurricane Maria are still evident, reports Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa.
Chalkbeat’s Caroline Bauman examines whether Tennessee has delivered on a promise to turn around its lowest-performing schools.
Tennessee's @TN_ASD serves some of the state's most vulnerable students. In a deep dive, we look at the first six schools taken over by the state in 2012. Six years later, all of those schools continue to struggle academically. #tellEWA https://t.co/GJ42FJQFdO
Tennessee's @TN_ASD serves some of the state's most vulnerable students. In a deep dive, we look at the first six schools taken over by the state in 2012. Six years later, all of those schools continue to struggle academically. #tellEWA https://t.co/GJ42FJQFdO— Caroline Bauman (@CarolineBmn) August 23, 2018
The Education Department is considering whether to allow states to use federal funding to purchase guns for educators, according to multiple people with knowledge of the plan.
At a time when student discipline is the subject of increased attention and debate, education journalists often struggle with how to better understand and cover the issue. During this EWA session, speakers addressed flashpoint issues, including zero tolerance policies, racial disparities in disciplinary actions, and the rise of so-called “restorative justice” practices. Along the way, they explored – and debated – the best ways to balance competing concerns to ensure fairness, equity, and a safe and productive learning environment.
What Does Hate Look Like in Schools? Education Week and ProPublica Show Us.
Is President Trump's Fiery Rhetoric Fueling Incidents at Public Campuses?
(EWA Radio: Episode 177)
Swastikas scrawled on bathroom walls. A confederate flag hanging behind a teacher’s desk. Chants of “build the wall” aimed at Hispanic students. As part of ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” project, Education Week tallied incidents of harassment, bullying, graffiti and more at public schools across the country. The team, including Education Week’s Francisco Vara-Orta, sifted through thousands of tips, as well as news coverage of incidents from across the nation.
The fate of a controversial program to train Brevard County school employees to carry guns at schools across the county could be decided in this upcoming school board election.
Three months ago, the school board voted 3-2 to postpone indefinitely Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s Sheriff-trained Onsite Marshal Program, also known as STOMP, to prepare employees who volunteer for the program to carry concealed guns on campuses.
In New Orleans, students who drink from a school water fountain may be exposed to lead, reports Marta Jewson of The Lens.
The Washington Post’s Moriah Balingit examines a new legal strategy to improve literacy instruction in resource-deprived schools.
For Parkland students, recovery comes in many forms, reports WLRN’s Jessica Bakeman.
‘Our First Job Is to Be Human. Our Second Job Is to Be a Journalist.’
Award-winning reporter John Woodrow Cox shares insights on covering children and gun violence
(EWA Radio: Episode 171)
From first-graders in rural South Carolina to high schoolers in Las Vegas, The Washington Post’s John Woodrow Cox paints searing portraits of the impact of gun violence through the eyes of the survivors themselves.
After District Error, Reporters Publish Hidden Details on Parkland Shooter’s History
Broward County School Board wants Sun Sentinel reporters held in contempt for publishing redacted details
For reporters, it’s second nature to hold up a redacted paper document to the light to see what might still be visible. Two reporters at the South Florida Sun Sentinel are facing a possible contempt of court charge for using a digital version of this technique on a report — commissioned by Broward County Public Schools — about the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
At 12:56 p.m., a single shot rings out at Windermere Elementary School.
The mid-June clouds stark white and heavy with impending rain, Darby Dugay listened for the splatter of falling drops, noting that the foul weather might delay her basketball practice.
Nearly a year after Hurricane Harvey submerged coastal Port Arthur, the rain still brings the 17-year-old’s heart rate up, especially when water overflows the long-neglected drainage ditches lining the neighborhood’s sidewalks.
As Alabama’s children return to school, safety is on the minds of many school officials. Districts across the state used the summer months to add security upgrades to their schools and train teachers and school personnel in new ways of keeping students safe.
“There’s more interest in school safety than anything I’ve seen in probably 20 years,” Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey said.
Fortified by fences and patrolled by more armed personnel, schools will open their doors to students for the start of the new year with a heightened focus on security intended to ease fears about deadly campus shootings.
The massacre in Parkland, Fla., one of the most lethal in American history, unnerved school administrators across the country, who devoted the summer to reinforcing buildings and hiring security.
Education Week’s Franciso Vara-Orta takes an in-depth look at hate and bias in schools.
A slowdown in charter school growth in California has some advocates worried, report Louis Freedberg and John Fensterwald of EdSource.
For The 74, Mark Keierleber examines the booming business of school security.
Inside the $3 Billion School Security Industry: Companies Market Sophisticated Technology to ‘Harden’ Campuses, but Will It Make Us Safe?
Inside an underground meeting room attached to the U.S. Capitol, past guards and metal detectors, lawmakers and officials from leading security companies discussed a burgeoning threat of mass school shootings and the dire need to “harden” campuses before someone else gets killed.
Three swastikas were scrawled on the note found in the girls’ restroom, along with a homophobic comment and a declaration: “I Love Trump.”
The Broward County School Board on Monday asked a judge to hold the South Florida Sun Sentinel and two of its reporters in contempt of court over the publication of a report about the Parkland shooter’s years within the school system.
In the year leading up to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killer Nikolas Cruz was stripped of the therapeutic services disabled students need, leaving him to navigate his schooling as a regular student despite mounds of evidence that he wasn’t.
Nikolas Cruz was an 18-year-old junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., when a spate of disturbing behavior led to a fateful meeting about the future of his schooling.
Education specialists told Mr. Cruz he should transfer to Cross Creek, an alternative school for students with emotional problems where he had thrived in ninth grade. His mother, Lynda Cruz, agreed.
They came from all over Virginia, battling gray weather and buckets of rain, to see the faces of a student-driven movement that shows few signs of stopping.
They came by the hundreds, young people and older ones—at least a third of the attendees were parents, judging by a show of hands—to hear first-person testimonies from the survivors of the mass shooting in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. They came to learn how they might be involved in ending gun violence. In a few cases, they came to protest.
An analysis by the Palm Beach Post’s Andrew Marra uncovers significant salary declines for veteran teachers even as the cost of living has climbed.
Ryan McKinnon of the Herald Tribune examines child care in Florida, where providers are just scraping by while parents are breaking the bank.
Florida’s child care industry is a case study in market failure — providers are selling their services at fire-sale prices, but it is still too expensive for the consumers. #tellEWA https://t.co/sJjLk6bmPs
Florida’s child care industry is a case study in market failure — providers are selling their services at fire-sale prices, but it is still too expensive for the consumers. #tellEWA https://t.co/sJjLk6bmPs— Ryan McKinnon (@JRMcKinnon) August 1, 2018
School administrators consider the likelihood of a shooting real enough that some districts are buying active-shooter insurance.
The coverage, also called “active-assailant” insurance, gained traction in the past year, following several mass shootings. Schools use it in hopes of avoiding litigation and offsetting costs for counseling services, crisis management and added security after an attack.
The gunfire had lasted less than 10 seconds, but now hidden behind locked doors all across the rural campus, teenagers wept and bled and prayed. Police would soon swarm Marshall County High’s hallways on that chilly morning in January, and though the exact number of students who had been shot remained unknown for hours, it didn’t take investigators long to find the boy they believed had pulled the trigger.
Santa Fe ISD has accepted a number of donations to ensure student safety and healing in the months following the May shooting that killed 10 and wounded 13.
As a new academic year looms, education journalists face an age-old challenge: What are the best ways to take a fresh approach to back-to-school coverage and lay a solid foundation for a year of hard-hitting reporting?
AL.com’s Trisha Crain crunches the numbers to see if Alabama’s rising graduation rate is translating to greater college and career readiness for its students.
In California, historians and Native Americans are urging lawmakers to to expand Native California curriculum in the state’s K-12 schools, reports Carolyn Jones of EdSource.
For 50 yrs 4th graders have learned about Spanish missions, but CA's new History-Social Studies framework seeks to shift focus to the history of Native Californians #curriculum #CAedchat #TellEWA @carolynjones100 https://t.co/X3KWokk6MH
For 50 yrs 4th graders have learned about Spanish missions, but CA's new History-Social Studies framework seeks to shift focus to the history of Native Californians #curriculum #CAedchat #TellEWA @carolynjones100 https://t.co/X3KWokk6MH— EdSource (@EdSource) July 26, 2018
WLRN’s Jessica Bakeman examines a troubling climate of racism at an elite private school in Miami.
Several current and former students and their parents describe Miami Country Day School as a place where white children mock and dehumanize their black peers and the adults in charge do little to stop it. #tellEWA https://t.co/OClgHQfMSp
Several current and former students and their parents describe Miami Country Day School as a place where white children mock and dehumanize their black peers and the adults in charge do little to stop it. #tellEWA https://t.co/OClgHQfMSp— Jessica Bakeman (@jessicabakeman) July 26, 2018
Covering LGBT Issues in the Classroom
Shifts seen in textbooks to reflect gay, lesbian historical figures
When the new academic year begins for California public schools, for the first time instructional materials will be available to ensure every K-12 classroom has access to accurate and unbiased depictions of the sexual orientation and gender identity of historical figures.
The FAIR Education Act – FAIR stands for Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful – requires history and social studies curriculum to include references to contributions by people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.
The Associated Press tracked nearly half a billion dollars that have flowed from philanthropies to charter school organizations, reports Sally Ho.
This interactive graphic showing all the official state charter groups is a good one to bookmark for future reference: AP Analysis shows how billionaires fuel powerful US charter schools groups #tellewa https://t.co/cG4GYGAuVY
This interactive graphic showing all the official state charter groups is a good one to bookmark for future reference: AP Analysis shows how billionaires fuel powerful US charter schools groups #tellewa https://t.co/cG4GYGAuVY— Sally Ho (@_sallyho) July 19, 2018
Rising national debt and a growing elderly population may force drastic cuts to federal programs that serve children, writes John Fensterwald for EdSource.
Fed spending on nation's children will drop by 25% by 2018 as more money funneled to entitlements for elderly & interest payments on soaring nat'l debt — @urbaninstitute report #TellEWA @jfenster https://t.co/rn0NdSTA7S
Fed spending on nation's children will drop by 25% by 2018 as more money funneled to entitlements for elderly & interest payments on soaring nat'l debt — @urbaninstitute report #TellEWA @jfenster https://t.co/rn0NdSTA7S— EdSource (@EdSource) July 19, 2018
Education Week’s Madeline Will reports on the unprecedented wave of teachers running for political office.
After a year scarred by two mass shootings in high schools, 34 percent of parents fear for their child’s safety at school, a new poll finds, and just 27 percent are very confident or extremely confident about their school’s ability to deter a gunman.
Among a menu of safety proposals, parents are much more likely to favor armed police in schools and mental-health screenings than arming teachers and school staff.
Aditi Malhotra of The Teacher Project profiles a young refugee in Chicago struggling to finish school while supporting family back home.
Support the family or attend school? Our own @A4iti tells the story of 19-year-old Salamat, a Chicago-based Rohingya refugee who has to navigate those competing demands. https://t.co/gpUVhVVnfx #tellEWA
Support the family or attend school? Our own @A4iti tells the story of 19-year-old Salamat, a Chicago-based Rohingya refugee who has to navigate those competing demands. https://t.co/gpUVhVVnfx #tellEWA— The Teacher Project (@teacher_project) July 9, 2018
A debate in New York City about high school admissions raises questions about how to define merit and fairness, writes Stacy Teicher Khadaroo and Harry Bruinius of The Christian Science Monitor.
As the Trump Administration rolls back civil rights guidance on affirmative action and school diversity, New Yorkers debate the specialized high school admissions process ... https://t.co/069loHpvk0 via @csmonitor #TellEWA #AffirmativeAction
As the Trump Administration rolls back civil rights guidance on affirmative action and school diversity, New Yorkers debate the specialized high school admissions process ... https://t.co/069loHpvk0 via @csmonitor #TellEWA #AffirmativeAction— Stacy T. Khadaroo (@StacyTKhadaroo) July 6, 2018
More than 30 people have died so far this year in 14 shootings at U.S. schools, according to Education Week’s school shooting tracker. In response, many school leaders are considering additional measures to protect students, such as hiring security guards, arming teachers, beefing up surveillance, rethinking reporting requirements, and developing threat-assessment programs.
Newspaper Investigations of Toxic Asbestos, Lead in Philadelphia Classrooms Underscore Infrastructure Problems in Nation’s Schools, Experts Say
When first-grader Dean Pagan started having trouble with simple math problems and began earning “red” instead of “green” on his teacher’s behavior chart, his parents started to worry. The chart indicated he hadn’t been following directions. His parents took him to a psychiatrist and a therapist, and he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But after his teacher spotted him putting a paint chip in his mouth during class, they had him tested for lead poisoning.
Escotto said she complained to Banyan Elementary School Principal Cheri Davis about Rosalba Suarez, a 33-year veteran teacher who was named teacher of the year this year at the school in Westchester. She said the principal told her she needed proof that Suarez was bullying her son.
Tawnell Hobbs: ‘Always Get the Data’
The Wall Street Journal reporter offers advice about tapping data on the education beat.
Tawnell Hobbs doesn’t shy away from data.
When reporting on credit-recovery programs in public schools, she analyzed U.S. Department of Education figures on the number of students taking those courses. For context, she added stats about the nation’s high school graduation rates, which are climbing, compared to national test scores, which remain flat.
Sally Ho of the Associated Press explains where and why prominent charter school supporters are wading into state elections.
The November midterm elections could affect how public resources flow into charter and private schools in the coming years in states like California, Nevada and Colorado: https://t.co/B39qpcVRus #tellEWA
The November midterm elections could affect how public resources flow into charter and private schools in the coming years in states like California, Nevada and Colorado: https://t.co/B39qpcVRus #tellEWA— Sally Ho (@_sallyho) July 5, 2018
A lawsuit filed on behalf of Detroit students ends in disappointment for its supporters, reports Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press.
For EdSource, Theresa Harrington examines why teachers in Oakland are preparing to strike.
Huge contributions from tech titans, a STEM-packed curriculum, gadgets everywhere: Willie Brown Middle School was supposed to set the bar. Then it opened.
Black girls in the Baltimore City public schools are more likely than other girls to be punished for speaking out in school, defying authority and causing disturbances, according to a study released Thursday by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.
Student testimonials reveal black girls report being disproportionately suspended for subjective offenses like challenging conditions at school.
The school discipline policies in Broward County, Fla., designed to be more equitable and more effective than what they replaced, have become exhibit A in what’s already a national debate.
The debate in many ways comes down to this: What’s more important — cold steel or warm hugs? Harsh consequences or second chances? Do we achieve safety and security by making schools harder — or making them softer?
Reporting on Children and Gun Violence
"Our First Job is to be Human, Our Second Job is to be a Journalist"
(EWA Radio: Episode 171)
From first-graders in rural South Carolina to high schoolers in Las Vegas, The Washington Post’s John Woodrow Cox paints searing portraits of the impact of gun violence through the eyes of the survivors themselves.
A school district in Florida failed to report crimes that occurred on its campuses, including at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, write Scott Travis, Megan O’Matz, and John Maines for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
On paper, #StonemanDouglas looked like one of the safest high schools in Florida. No bullying, trespassing, violent attacks, break-in reported to state in 2016-17...It wasn’t true.
On paper, #StonemanDouglas looked like one of the safest high schools in Florida. No bullying, trespassing, violent attacks, break-in reported to state in 2016-17...It wasn’t true.
In The Military Times, Natalie Gross reports on a significant drop in the number of veterans and dependents using the GI Bill at U.S. colleges.
In First-Ever Survey, School Police Speak Up
Campus safety, student civil rights, and active-shooter readiness in the spotlight (EWA Radio: Episode 170)
Who are the nation’s school police officers? Have they received adequate training to work with youths? And how prepared do they believe their campuses are for a mass shooting event? In a first-of-its-kind survey, Education Week got answers to these and many more questions from school resource officers. Reporter Evie Blad and Holly Yettick, the director of the Education Week Research Center, discuss the findings and their implications on this episode of EWA Radio.
They were top athletes and honor-roll students, children struggling to read and teenagers seeking guidance.
But then they became prey, among the many students raped or sexually abused during the last decade by trusted adults working in the Chicago Public Schools as district officials repeated obvious child-protection mistakes.
Their lives were upended, their futures clouded and their pain unacknowledged as a districtwide problem was kept under wraps. A Tribune analysis indicates that hundreds of students were harmed.
Digging Up Dirt: This Reporter’s Investigation Finds Filthy Chicago Schools
Lax oversight of private custodial services a big factor, Chicago Sun-Times finds (EWA Radio: Episode 169)
When Chicago Public Schools decided to privatize its custodial and facilities maintenance services in 2014, district officials promised it would mean cleaner campuses. But as Lauren FitzPatrick of the Chicago Sun-Times reports in a new series, that’s a far cry from the reality. Instead, inspectors found rat and bug infestations, filthy bathrooms, and potentially hazardous conditions for students and staff.
School safety experts recently weighed in on how states and school systems are — and should be — responding to the spate of campus shootings.
They also shared best practices for journalists when covering the issue of school shootings, including how to analyze school districts’ prevention efforts, what stories to look for, and how to report on shootings while minimizing harm to mourning communities.
The May 16 panel came two days before yet another school shooting, this time at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, that led to 10 deaths.
Education journalists must think more critically about the ways in which race, ethnicity and gender play into the stories they tell, a panel of experts said at the first keynote session at the Education Writers Association’s national seminar in Los Angeles last week.
Education journalists from across the nation gathered here this week with a focus on diversity in their profession, recent activism by teachers, and the scourge of school violence, among other topics.
The Education Writers Association’s top award for education reporting went to John Woodrow Cox of The Washington Post for a compelling three-part series on children and gun violence, which was published last June.
Parkland Survivors and Other Youth Activists: ‘You’re Going to Listen to Us’ on Gun Violence
EWA National Seminar puts spotlight on students
In an emotionally charged session at the Education Writers Association’s national seminar, several student activists urged journalists to keep the national spotlight on gun violence and not let the shootings at a Florida high school and elsewhere be forgotten.
Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa and Alex Harwin examine pronounced fluctuations in the number of desegregation cases reported by school districts.
In Charlotte, N.C., officials want more money to hire mental health workers because of increased demand in schools, Gwendolyn Glenn reports for WFAE.
In education, initiatives tend to roll down from above. A district buys a new curriculum, or gets funding for a new program, and principals receive their marching orders, which they in turn hand down to teachers below.
Children Face Potential Poisoning From Lead, Mold, Asbestos in Philadelphia Schools, Investigation Shows
Every school day in Philadelphia, children are exposed to a stew of environmental hazards, both visible and invisible, that can rob them of a healthy place to learn and thrive. Too often, the district knows of the perils but downplays them to parents.
As part of its “Toxic City” series, the Inquirer and Daily News investigated the physical conditions at district-run schools. Reporters examined five years of internal maintenance logs and building records, and interviewed 120 teachers, nurses, parents, students, and experts.
In suburban Illinois, vocational training is getting fresh attention — and funding, writes Rafael Guerrero of The Courier News.
Reporting for Colorado Public Radio, Jenny Brundin looks at allegations of misconduct and abuse against a teacher at a public school for the arts.
DENVER ARTS SCHOOL INVESTIGATION II: “As a mother, I felt guilty for not speaking up sooner.” Vocal teachers return to DSA after allegations of emotional abuse, discrimination and retaliation. https://t.co/H8QLJ1Q2oi #edcolo @ChoralDirector @dpsnewsnow #vocal #TellEWA @codepted pic.twitter.com/7vuu4fVi1C
DENVER ARTS SCHOOL INVESTIGATION II: “As a mother, I felt guilty for not speaking up sooner.” Vocal teachers return to DSA after allegations of emotional abuse, discrimination and retaliation. https://t.co/H8QLJ1Q2oi #edcolo @ChoralDirector @dpsnewsnow #vocal #TellEWA @codepted pic.twitter.com/7vuu4fVi1C— Jenny Brundin (@CPRBrundin) April 30, 2018
Denver Post reporter Danika Worthington explains why Colorado teachers are walking out of class and rallying at the state capitol.
In DeKalb County, Ga., a school bus driver sickout is drawing complaints — and sympathy — from parents, Marlon A. Walker reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
‘Benefit of the Doubt’: Evading Allegations of Educator Sexual Misconduct
Single-Topic News or Feature: General News Outlets, Print and Online (Medium Staff)
About the Entry
After a lengthy solo battle to obtain Portland Public Schools’ records related to teacher discipline matters, reporter Bethany Barnes uncovers a paper trail of questionable actions by district administrators that allowed a troubled teacher to stay on the job despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
‘Too Young?’ Sex Education Controversies in California’s Central Valley
Single-Topic News or Feature: General News Outlets, Print and Online (Medium Staff)
About the Entry
In a series for the Fresno Bee, Mackenzie Mays looks at the local politics influencing enforcement of California’s law requiring schools to provide comprehensive sexual education, and how that might be a factor in teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among students in the Central Valley.
Rachel Cohen’s Beat Reporting at The American Prospect
Beat Reporting: General News Outlets, Print and Online (Small Staff)
Bethany Barnes, Beat Reporting
Beat Reporting: General News Outlets, Print and Online (Medium Staff)
Aliyya Swaby: Texas Tribune’s Public Education Reporter
Beat Reporting: General News Outlets, Print and Online (Medium Staff)
The Ins and Outs of ‘Restorative Justice’ in Schools
What is it? Does it work as an alternative to traditional student discipline?
When students misbehave at school, traditional approaches to discipline say you should punish them to deter future offenses.
But a growing movement toward “restorative” approaches to discipline focuses more on repairing the damage rather than suspending or expelling students.
Though details vary from school to school, so-called “restorative justice” programs instead encourage students to reflect on their transgressions and their root causes, talk about them – usually with the victims of the behavior – and try to make amends.
About the Entry
A nearly two-year investigation by a team of journalists at NBC Bay Area found that schools across the country, including in the San Francisco Bay Area, were more likely to use police to respond to discipline issues when the alleged offenders were black students or students with disabilities.
Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky are on the picket lines this week, pushing for better compensation for themselves and more money for schools in their respective states.
These strikes come just weeks after West Virginia’s schools were shuttered statewide for almost two weeks in March, eventually sparking the legislature there to award teachers pay raises.
Such work stoppages are historically rare, but the teachers involved say they were necessary to force resolutions to months - or even years - of stalled negotiations.
Getting heartfelt, personally revealing comments from teenage boys is difficult enough for parents. So reporters Kavitha Cardoza and Cory Turner had to take a few creative risks to get good audio for their National Public Radio series on an all-boys public high school in Washington D.C. last year.
Students at Center Stage of ‘March for Our Lives’
D.C. rally draws hundreds of thousands; Youth nationwide call for stricter gun control laws
Common, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda were upstaged at Saturday’s March for Our Lives by teens and tweens who had survived school shootings and those who face the threat of gun violence in their daily lives.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s underdog success story plays out on the court and in the classroom, writes Erica L. Green for The New York Times.
A new natural gas pipeline could be a boon for a struggling Ohio school district, reports Ashton Marra via State Impact Ohio.
The conversation around #pipelines almost always focuses on environmental concerns, but what about schools? @AshtonMarra takes a look at the controversy from the education angle: https://t.co/OsGqjZIbEo #TellEWA pic.twitter.com/kwjnIWYr6Q
The conversation around #pipelines almost always focuses on environmental concerns, but what about schools? @AshtonMarra takes a look at the controversy from the education angle: https://t.co/OsGqjZIbEo #TellEWA pic.twitter.com/kwjnIWYr6Q— StateImpact Ohio (@StateImpactOH) March 22, 2018
What it means: The definition and assigned duties of a school resource officer (SRO) can vary widely, although many schools — particularly at the secondary level — have some version of the staff position. In certain districts, schools call anyone on campus with security responsibilities the SRO, and many are unarmed. At the other end of the spectrum, some states require SROs to undergo the same police academy training as sworn peace officers.
Student Voices Take Spotlight in Walkout Coverage
The #Enough movement pushes for stricter gun control measures, more funding for mental health
On Wednesday, students across the country joined forces to call for stricter gun control laws, better mental health services in public schools, and to draw attention to concerns about violence in their own communities.
‘Reading, Writing, Evicted’: How Housing Woes Hurt Students and Schools
New series looks at academic and health effects of student mobility (EWA Radio: Episode 161)
In Portland, Oregon, so-called “no cause” evictions are forcing hundreds of students to switch schools — sometimes more than once — during the course of the academic year. That leaves individual kids struggling to stay on track academically, and schools scrambling to high rates of student turnover.
In Wake of Parkland Shooting, Schools Look to Learn From Tragedy
Resources, questions to ask as schools reassess systems for identifying, helping troubled students.
Questions to Ask as Schools Weigh Response to Student Walkouts
With student-led protests for stricter gun laws spreading, journalists probe districts' policies, preparedness
In the wake of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, a groundswell of student activism has jolted the gun control debate and left some school districts coping with the surge of civic engagement.
For education journalists, the developments present an opportunity to examine how local schools and districts are responding to and preparing for student demonstrations and walkouts. Are they encouraging students? Threatening to suspend them? Struggling to come up with a clear strategy?
Dozens of journalists gathered in New Orleans this month to explore a dimension of education that often gets short shrift both in schools and in news coverage: developing students’ character and preparing them for active citizenship.
Reporters heard not only from educators, experts, and fellow journalists, but also students from New Orleans and beyond. Issues on tap included the moral education of young people, social and emotional learning, media literacy, and the rapid rise of ”restorative justice” as an alternative to traditional disciplinary practice.
School Shooting in Florida Sparks Rethinking on News Coverage
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Lead Fresh Calls for Gun Control
As the nation faces the fallout from the most recent school shooting, which claimed 17 lives in Parkland, Florida, some education reporters are rethinking their professional best practices.
Among the questions: How should news outlets tally school shootings, given that advocacy groups and researchers often disagree on how to “count” campus incidents involving guns?
What is a news organization’s obligation to counter intentional misinformation aimed at influencing public conversations around gun control?
Ready to Design a New School? ‘Start With the Student.’
Educators share insights on building next-generation schools
Imagine creating a new public high school from scratch — not just the building, but the learning experience itself. How would you start? What would a typical day look like? How would it differ from most high schools?
At a recent EWA seminar, several educators who have faced this challenge shared their insights as they sought to better serve students by upending traditional school models.
The intensive focus in public schools on boosting achievement in core subjects has sparked concerns that the U.S. education system is neglecting an important responsibility: to help foster in children strong character and prepare them for active citizenship in a democratic society.
Soon after reports first circulated about a student opening fire at a Kentucky high school on Tuesday, Gov. Matt Blevin took to Twitter and urged people to show restraint:
“Shooter is in custody, one confirmed fatality, multiple others wounded. … Much yet unknown. … Please do not speculate or spread hearsay. … Let’s let the first responders do their job and be grateful that they are there to do it for us.”
2018: What’s Ahead on the Education Beat
Betsy DeVos, Tax Reform, and DACA in the spotlight (EWA Radio: Episode 153)
Veteran education journalists Greg Toppo of USA Today and Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed offer predictions on the education beat for the coming year, as well as story ideas to help reporters cover emerging federal policies and trends that will impact students and educators at the state and local level. Top items on their watchlists include the effect of the so-called “Trump Effect on classrooms, and whether the revamped tax law will mean big hits to university endowments.
Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed.)
How local politics are influencing public school programs, teen birth rates
The Central Valley is home to six of the 10 counties with the highest teen pregnancy rates in California. The same communities also have some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted disease. But as reporter Mackenzie Mays discovered by crunching the numbers in a new series for The Fresno Bee, those statistics vary widely by ZIP code, as does access to school-based health programs and services.
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.
The intensive focus in many public schools on basic academics has sparked concerns that the U.S. education system is neglecting a fundamental responsibility: to foster in young people the character traits and social-emotional skills needed to be successful students and engaged citizens. Empathy, collaboration, and self-efficacy, for instance, are essential in a democratic society. They also are important for success in a fast-changing job market.
As a growing number of high-profile men in politics, the media, and entertainment industry face allegations of sexual misconduct, individuals who say they’ve experienced similar harassment in other professions are speaking up — including K-12 teachers.
‘Raising Kings’: A Portrait of an Urban High School for Young Men of Color
Education Week-NPR series features social-emotional learning and restorative justice at new D.C. campus
Can schools ever fully fill the gaps in students’ life experiences that often keep them from succeeding in school? Two reporters, Education Week’s Kavitha Cardoza and Cory Turner of NPR, spent hundreds of hours at Ron Brown College Prep, a new boys-only public high school in Washington, D.C. that primarily serves students of color.
When Cyber-Hackers Attack, School Districts Are Paying the Ransom.
Data security, student privacy, employee records at risk
From Georgia to California, school districts are facing a growing security threat: hackers. They target everything from employee payroll accounts to student records, and demand ransom in exchange for not taking advantage of sensitive information. Tawnell Hobbs of The Wall Street Journal discovered that school districts are surprisingly vulnerable to cyber attacks. And many are opting to pay the ransom and not reporting the crime to authorities. Is your school district a target?
Girls Outscore Boys in the Middle East on Math and Science. But That’s Not the Whole Story.
Amanda Ripley, a New York Times bestselling author, discusses gender gaps and student motivation
When U.S. education experts look overseas for ideas and inspiration, they usually turn to places like Finland and Singapore. But journalist Amanda Ripley recently traveled instead to the Middle East to get underneath some surprising data about gender gaps in a recent story for The Atlantic. More specifically, why do girls in Jordan and Oman earn better grades and test scores than boys, even without the promise of lucrative jobs?
The public education system in Puerto Rico was already struggling before two historic hurricanes — Irma and Maria — wreaked havoc on this U.S. territory. Reporter Andrew Ujifusa and photographer Swikar Patel of Education Week discuss their recent reporting trip to Puerto Rico, where they met students and teachers who have lost their homes — as well as their schools — and are now struggling to get the basic essentials, like food and shelter.
Your editor has just assigned you a story — students at a local university are planning a demonstration calling for the removal of a Confederate statue. Do you know what to bring, who to talk to, and how to cover it in a way that is balanced and contextualized?
Given the opportunity to go beyond a singular focus on test scores to measure schools’ success, will states begin holding schools accountable for teaching skills like perseverance, empathy, and self-control? As Education Week’s Evie Blad reports, the answer appears to be “no,” at least for now.
Bethany Barnes of The Oregonian discusses “The Benefit of the Doubt,” her investigation into how Portland Public Schools botched its handling of multiple allegations of a middle school teacher’s sexual misconduct stretching back more than a decade.
Public school students in Houston — the nation’s seventh-largest district — had expected to start a new academic year this week. Instead, many of their campuses were converted into emergency shelters, and many students as well as educators are now homeless. Shelby Webb of The Houston Chronicle discusses the latest developments, and shares some personal perspectives on reporting under emotionally charged circumstances.
Hurricane Harvey has pummeled Texas, with the greatest concentration of flooding in the Houston area. Local school districts that had intended to kick off the new academic year this week are instead assessing the damages to campuses, and preparing to help students and families displaced by the storm.
When a total solar eclipse passes over the United States on Monday, the best viewing will be in a handful of states stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. But some school districts are planning to keep students indoors, citing concerns over the potential health risks of viewing the historic event for themselves.
Benefit of the Doubt
How Portland Public Schools Helped An Educator Evade Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Something broke inside 17-year-old Rose Soto when Marshall High teacher Mitch Whitehurst called attention to her pants.
“You know why they’re so great?” Whitehurst said as he walked behind her up an empty stairway, according to an account she would tell police and school officials. “It’s because of the zipper in the back. You just unzip them and boom we’re on it.”
The 2001 remark capped a year of unrelenting sexual advances from the Portland educator who’d tapped her to be his student aide, she told police.
Tovin Lapan of The Hechinger Report visited Greenville, Miss., to examine how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could impact rural school communities that depend heavily on federal aid for after-school and student nutrition programs. What does research show about the connections between connecting students’ eating habits and test scores?
Days after Donald Trump won the White House, the Brookings Institution published an essay suggesting the 2016 presidential election should serve as a “Sputnik moment” for character education.
The campaign’s “extraordinary vitriol and divisiveness” offers a strong argument for a “renewed emphasis on schools’ role in developing children as caring, empathetic citizens,” wrote Brookings scholar Jon Valant.
Laura Isensee of Houston Public Media discusses Furr High School, which recently received a $10 million grant to help it reinvent what, when, and how students learn. The changes are already underway: a veteran principal was lured out of retirement to take the helm; students are able dig into their own areas of interest during regular periods of “Genius Time”; and even the hiring process for teachers and staff has taken some innovative turns. What’s been the response of the school community to these new developments?
Educators have been wading through a sea of conflicting messages from President Trump’s administration about undocumented immigrants, trying to figure out how best to serve these students without breaking the law.
A teacher shortage in Oklahoma. Data-driven analysis of the Detroit School Board election. Teen suicide. The impact of an influx of Central American youths on a high-poverty Oakland school. Four of this year’s Education Writers Association award finalists recently shared their stories and took questions from a packed room at the EWA National Seminar on how they did their work.
Rocking the Beat
Chalkbeat Detroit reporter Erin Einhorn won an EWA award this spring for outstanding beat reporting. Her enterprising coverage included stories about the impact on communities when neighborhood schools are slated for closure, unconventional methods of filling Head Start staffing vacancies, and how many families struggle to find educational options for their children that are safe, high quality, and — just as importantly — accessible.
Recess had finally started, so Ava Olsen picked up her chocolate cupcake, then headed outside toward the swings. And that’s when the 7-year-old saw the gun.
Many education journalists are savvy enough to use social media as a way to attract readers to their stories. But if that is all they are doing with social media, they are not harnessing its full potential.
“Especially in our beat, it can be a really valuable — if potentially risky and dangerous tool — both for connecting with hard-to-reach sources and for generating story angles and ideas,” said Sarah Carr, who runs The Teacher Project, a fellowship program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
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.
Jamie Hopkins of The Center for Public Integrity discusses her new investigation (produced in partnership with Reveal) into how proximity to busy roadways is impacting the air quality at thousands of public schools. How close is “too close” for campuses? Why are students of color and those from low-income families more likely to be at risk? Where are parents and health advocates gaining ground in addressing air quality concerns near schools? And how can local reporters use CPI’s online databases to inform their coverage of these issues?
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?
Last summer, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics convened a meeting of education deans from Hispanic-serving institutions across the country to brainstorm ideas for getting more Latinos into the teaching profession. The group recently released a white paper with their recommendations — among them a challenge to recognize and remove implicit bias in education.
Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for billionaire school advocate Betsy DeVos — President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. secretary of education — was a doozy.
DeVos sought to present herself as ready to oversee the federal agency, but some of her remarks suggested a lack of familiarity with the federal laws governing the nation’s schools.
In her opening statement before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, DeVos said:
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are hundreds of thousands of students who cross borders to attend schools in both the U.S. and Mexico during their elementary, middle and high school years, but poor communication between the two nations often results in significant obstacles for their academic advancement, researchers said at a binational symposium in Mexico this week.
Black and Latino students in Boston increasingly are enrolled in a free program that offers test prep services for students seeking entry into the district’s three prestigious exam schools — one of which is under federal investigation for alleged racial discrimination and harassment, The Boston Globe
Recent news stories once again have shined a spotlight on the troubling issue of teacher misconduct. Consider these headlines:
Crossing an international border can be a hassle. But some parents in Mexico do it every day in pursuit of a better education for their children.
San Antonio-based KENS 5 recently aired a story of a father who walks his two young children across the Mexico-Texas border daily so they can attend school in the U.S. The trek is worth it, he says.
The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.
See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.
Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.
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.
Black and Hispanic children experience mental health problems at a similar rate than their white peers, yet are less likely to receive treatment, a new study of nationally representative data shows.
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.
A community program working to reduce violence through soccer and an after-school robotics class serving Latino youth in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region have each received up to $50,000 in grants to aid their efforts from the Inter-American Development Bank.
Reporter Armando Trull provides insight into these two programs in a story for WAMU.
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?
For education reporters, coming up with fresh ideas for back-to-school stories is an annual ritual. And if you’re balancing the K-12 and higher education beats, it can be an even bigger challenge.
EWA Express Talks: Equity, Poverty, and Education
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar
This special, morning-long session features a series of speakers aiming to illuminate under-recognized or under-reported facets of the challenges of providing equitable opportunities for all students. Topics examined include social mobility, cultural questions, combatting trauma, and solutions focusing on equity.
Educational Exclusion: Drop Out, Push Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline among LGBTQ Youth provides an in-depth look at the conditions that effectively push LGBTQ youth out of school and potentially into the criminal justice system. The report provides specific, real world guidance to address the hostile school climates and damaging policies and practices that contribute to pushing LGBTQ youth out of their schools.
The grim subject of violent attacks in schools seems unlikely to go away. While the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School appeared to be a watershed moment in the national conversation about how to keep schools and students safe, school shootings have continued and little has changed in how the issue is covered in the news media.
Most stories about school security center tend to focus on extreme events or threats.
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.
The K-12 investigative reporting track offers a how-to session on digging into public documents that help reporters examine special education policies, highlights journalists’ work on how teachers charged with abusing students are staying in the classroom, and explores how five elementary schools were allowed to become “failure factories.”
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.
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
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.
Cara Fitzpatrick was in labor when her husband – and colleague at the Tampa Bay Times – asked her “So what can you tell me about segregation in Pinellas County?”
The paper had just decided to do a large-scale investigation into the district’s schools that were serving predominately low-income, black students. Two years later, Fitzpatrick’s son is walking and talking and she and the rest of the team have earned a Pulitzer Prize for their series Failure Factories.
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.
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.
Is “school choice” a misnomer in Detroit, where options for students hinge heavily on their ability to find their own transportation?
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.
Two powerful new stories — one from China, the other set in Oakland, California — explore how educators are addressing perceived shortfalls in boys’ education: namely, bestowing them with the qualities needed for “manhood.”
It’s been a terrific year for our scrappy little podcast, and we’re thrilled to report an equally stellar lineup coming to EWA Radio in 2016.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the many journalists and education experts who made time to join us for lively conversations, and to all of you who have offered suggestions for stories and guests to feature. Please keep the feedback coming!
Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 most popular episodes of the year:
As the Washington Post rightly pointed out, working during the holiday weeks can feel like being stranded in a dead zone. I did manage to conduct a (highly unscientific!) survey of EWA’s journalist members and ask them to name a few of their favorite stories by their peers in the past year.
Chung-Te Wang had never seen a calculator in school before traveling to the U.S. this year as an exchange student.
“We always calculate with our brain. No offense,” said the 16-year-old from Taiwan, spurring laughter in a room full of reporters at the Education Writers Association’s recent seminar on covering U.S. education in a global context.
Sixty black and Latino boys spoke to Boston school officials last week about issues they feel might be holding them back at school. Segregation, high suspension rates and teacher diversity were at the top of their list.
For years, common experience and studies have prescribed that humans learn best in their earliest years of life – when the brain is developing at its fastest. Recently, though, research has suggested that the period of optimal learning extends well into adolescence.
Students in Syracuse, New York who fear a trip to the principal’s office might haunt them later in life no longer need to worry about it affecting their chances of getting into college. The Syracuse City School District has decided it intends to stop sharing student disciplinary records with colleges.
The first time I heard a preschooler explaining a classmate’s disruptive behavior, I was surprised at how adult her four-year-old voice sounded.
Her classmate “doesn’t know how to sit still and listen,” she said to me, while I sat at the snack table with them. He couldn’t learn because he couldn’t follow directions, she explained, as if she had recently completed a behavioral assessment on him.
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
When a group of Harvard educators surveyed ninth-grade teachers and their students during a recent experiment, they found students who had common interests with their teachers started to perform better academically. The improvements were especially remarkable among black and Latino students.
With a single tweet, Motoko Rich of The New Times managed to encapsulate one of the most striking aspects of last week’s campus shooting:
Discipline practices thought to disproportionately affect students of color have been at the center of debates across the country. And with a growing body of research showing the negative long-term effects of zero-discipline policies, especially on minority youth, many school districts have moved to abandon them.
The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.
Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.
For the first time, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging education policymakers to start middle and high school classes later in the morning to improve the odds of adolescents getting sufficient sleep to thrive both physically and academically.
While it may seem that every back-to-school story has been written, the well is far from dry. Are you following the blogs teachers in your district write? Have you amassed the data sets you’ll need to write that deep dive explaining why so many local high school graduates land in remedial classes when they first enter college?
No? It’s OK. You’re not alone.
Conversations about classroom discipline typically focus on ways to teach kids there are consequences to their actions as a means of controlling future behavior. But a new approach gaining ground removes the sliding scale of punishment from the equation.
Clinical psychologist Ross Greene — whose books are well known to parents of so-called “problem kids,” is rewriting the rules for how some schools respond to challenging students.
When discussing the movie theater shooting Thursday in Lafayette, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal recounted his conversation with one of two teachers who was in the audience when the gunfire broke out:
“Her friend literally jumped over her,” Jindal said from the scene. “If her friend hadn’t done that, she believed the bullet would have hit her in the head.”
Schools often say they suspend misbehaving students to restore order and keep others safe. But a recent study questions the link between suspensions and school safety. This session flips the script, as a researcher moderates a panel of reporters who have explored alternatives to the usual diet of suspensions and expulsions.
Five years ago, Nicholas Senn High School on the Near North Side of Chicago was one some educators felt lucky to avoid. While student discipline might have been an issue elsewhere, “you would say, at least it’s not Senn,” Principal Susan Lofton said.
As school districts across the country work to address racial inequities in discipline, some campuses are trying alternative approaches to keeping students out of trouble and in the classroom.
Among the approaches gaining in popularity: positive behavior support programs, which reward students for good behavior, and restorative justice programs, in which students are brought into the process of identifying solutions, rather than simply punished.
Need a state or national statistic? There’s likely a federal data set for that. From fairly intuitive and interactive widgets to dense spreadsheets — and hundreds of data summaries in between — the U.S. Department of Education’s various research programs are a gold mine for reporters on the hunt for facts and figures.
Back in December, reporter Lauren Foreman of the Bakersfield Californian sent an email titled “Banned from classrooms” to a group of education journalists.
“One of my district’s assistant supes told me today reporters aren’t allowed to observe classroom instruction, and parents aren’t even allowed to freely do that,” she wrote. Foreman wanted to know what policies were in other districts and how she ought to respond.
EWA’s 68th National Seminar kicks off today in Chicago, and it’s going to be a fantastic three days of discussions, workshops, and site visits. The theme this year is Costs and Benefits: The Economics of Education. Be sure to keep tabs on all the action via the #EWA15 hashtag on Twitter.
Huguenot High School in Richmond, Va. recently made local headlines when leaders issued a long-overdue apology for luring Latino students to the cafeteria in 2013, searching their bags and threatening deportation if they didn’t comply.
But that’s in the past — though perhaps not quite forgiven and forgotten – and school leaders are trying to move on.
The superintendent of Richmond Public Schools in Virginia issued a public apology Monday for a two-year-old incident in which Latino students were searched and threatened with deportation.
A petition addressed to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is asking the administration to end the use of metal detectors in schools, claiming the added security measures unnecessarily treat black and Latino students like criminals.
When Schools Close: Effects on Displaced Students in Chicago Public Schools
University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research
This report reveals that eight in 10 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students displaced by school closings transferred to schools ranking in the bottom half of system schools on standardized tests. However, because most displaced students transferred from one low-performing school to another, the move did not, on average, significantly affect student achievement.
The report demonstrates that the success of a school closing policy hinges on the quality of the receiving schools that accept the displaced students.
When you write a blog, the end of the year seems to require looking back and looking ahead. Today I’m going to tackle the former with a sampling of some of the year’s top stories from the K-12 and higher education beats. I’ll save the latter for early next week when the final sluggish clouds of 2014 have been swept away, and a bright new sky awaits us in 2015. (Yes, I’m an optimist.)
If tough school discipline measures are meant to maintain stability in the classroom, then a new definition of stable might be in order: A new study argues high use of suspensions and expulsions brings down all students – even the ones who behave well.
A researcher with the Albert Shanker Institute flagged the study, which was published this month in the American Sociological Review. Here’s more on the paper from the Shanker Institute scholar Esther Quintero:
IT’S ABOUT TIME draws on a statewide survey to examine how learning time is distributed across California high schools. The survey, conducted by UCLA IDEA during the 2013-2014 school year, included a representative sample of nearly 800 teachers. Survey findings highlight inequalities in the amount of time available for learning across low and high poverty High Schools. Community stressors and chronic problems with school conditions lead to far higher levels of lost instructional time in high poverty high schools.
As millions of immigrants waited for President Barack Obama to shed light on their future Thursday, educators, too, had a stake in the conversation.
Ever since my second week living in the District of Columbia, when I found myself alone on a commuter train the conductor had apparently deemed malfunctioning while I was lost in my music, I like to keep all five senses focused on my surroundings.
But on Monday, I decided to give the headphones another try. I’d heard good things about the podcast “This American Life” and decided to download the latest episode from Oct. 17 – “Is This Working?”
In the fall of 2009, as the Las Vegas Sun’s education reporter, I wrote about the Clark County School District experiencing its first drop in enrollment in a quarter century.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that Clark County – the nation’s fifth-largest school district – is once again bursting at its proverbial seams.
Follow-Up Friday: Adopting New Rules for School Discipline, Embracing Hispanic Heritage Helps Students
Earlier this week, my EWA colleague Mikhail Zinshteyn looked at California’s recent revisions to campus discipline policy, as state lawmakers voted to prohibit K-12 schools from using “willful defiance” as a device for meting out suspensions and expulsions of students.
California has limited schools’ ability to suspend or expel students for “willful defiance,” passing a law over the weekend that curbed the practice.
Approved by Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown, the measure is considered the first statewide law in the nation to apply limits on a school’s ability to punish a student for “willful defiance” – a catch-all term that many social justice advocates say disproportionately targets minority students for allegedly disobeying school officials.
There’s a section in the new Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll out this week that hasn’t gotten much attention: what parents think about schools and student health. (You can read my overview of the full poll, which focuses heavily on questions about teacher quality and preparation, here.)
Prompted by the controversy over the type of equipment the Ferguson police department used during protests over the death of Michael Brown, news organizations across the country started requesting information about a U.S. Department of Defense program that provided police departments with defense equipment.
Why should education reporters care?
Some of those police departments happen to belong to school districts, colleges and universities.
In a new report, researchers say they found a link between higher rates of student absenteeism and lower scores in reading and mathematics on a nationwide exam. It’s a finding that isn’t likely to surprise many people, least of all educators in America’s public schools.
In a month dominated by news reports of racial tension, a significant milepost in American race relations garnered less attention: For the first time in this country’s history, white students will this year no longer comprise a majority of the nation’s schoolchildren.
For years, students attending the Los Angeles Unified School District could earn citations from police officers for behaviors such as fighting.
The criminalization of routine offenses committed by students now appears to be coming to an end. The school system announced this week that it would stop giving citations for such offenses, and would instead focus on programs for students who misbehave.
In the wake of confrontations following the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., local schools are shuttered this week. In addition to concerns about lost learning time, educators have a more urgent worry: making sure students who typically rely on school meals don’t go hungry.
In Texas, a state known for its zero-tolerance approach to school discipline, 80 percent of its prisoners are high school dropouts. And as more research finds a link between suspensions and quitting school early, the evidence is mounting that keeping kids from learning for behavioral reasons hurts their academic outcomes. Against this backdrop is White Middle School in central Texas.