School Climate & Safety
Not long ago, a student who got into a fight at school would likely face an automatic suspension. Now, in schools across the country, that student might be back in class the next day.
That change is part of an expansive effort to rethink the way public schools respond to misbehavior. In many schools, punitive measures like suspension and expulsion are being replaced with alternative strategies that aim to keep students in the classroom and address underlying issues like trauma and stress.
President Trump’s school safety commission will recommend canceling an Obama-era initiative meant to reduce racial disparities in school discipline and will not recommend new gun restrictions, people familiar with the matter said.
From rapes to arsons to guns, Florida’s school districts are hiding countless crimes that take place on campus, defying state laws and leaving parents with the false impression that children are safer than they are.
Many serious offenses — and even minor ones — are never reported to the state as required, an investigation by the South Florida Sun Sentinel found. A staggering number of schools report no incidents at all — no bullying, no trespassing, nothing.
Barbara Laker isn’t an education reporter. She doesn’t have a long list of teachers’ phone numbers in her contacts. So, it’s amazing that she was able to find and convince 24 teachers and other school employees from 19 elementary schools to swab pipes, drinking fountains and suspicious patches of black on classroom walls.
Attention is growing to the detrimental impact stress and trauma have on children’s learning and development. In response, some schools are rethinking everything from student discipline and support services to teacher training. The shift has also given birth to a whole new set of terms and practices for education reporters to understand and break down for their audiences.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by John Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.
Across the country, rural schools are being forced to shut down as more families move to urban areas and funding sources dry up. In Arena, Wisconsin, six-year-old Brady Schlamp must now travel 10 miles to school. His former school, right around the corner, was shuttered. As Jeffrey Brown reports, the closures can cause logistical challenges, emotional fallout and community divisions.
Inside this high school at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, teenagers are immersed in a project with the potential to temper the divisiveness that is consuming U.S. politics. They’re learning to have calm, balanced conversations about controversial issues.
In two very ordinary classrooms here, students are aware that they’re trying to do something extraordinary, something many adults around them seem unable to do: study a problem, understand the arguments on all sides, and discuss it together to see what solutions might work best for the country.
Hidden in L.A. suburbia, wrenching poverty preys on children and destroys dreams – Los Angeles Times
School had been in session less than two months when Brenda Salgado and her kids packed and moved. It was mid-September and they’d already been in three places. First a motel, then a two-bedroom apartment stuffed with more than two dozen people, then one of the many discount lodges on a dreary stretch of Sepulveda Boulevard in North Hills.
Although school security has grown into a $2.7 billion market — an estimate that does not account for the billions more spent on armed campus police officers — little research has been done on which safety measures do and do not protect students from gun violence.
After the shooting massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla., survivors found themselves taking on the National Rifle Association as they crisscrossed the country rallying young adults to register and vote against candidates opposed to gun control.
On Tuesday, the Parkland students got a dose of political reality.
Steinmetz High School in northwest Chicago, where Emily Jade Aguilar graduated last year, had just four school counselors. In a school of more than 1,200 students, that simply wasn’t enough.
“We need more mental health resources in our schools,” said Aguilar, who spent Election Day knocking on doors with Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, “to have at least a safe space for 15 or 30 minutes where I could let someone know what is going on.”
Young voters are in the spotlight this election as onlookers wonder if they will turn out in larger numbers than in the past. Just 22 percent of young people voted in the 2014 midterms, the lowest rate of any age group.
A new survey from the Education Week Research Center set out to better understand the youngest of youth voters, 18- and 19-year-olds. Results from more than a thousand respondents showed many young voters are suburban, identify as liberal and cite school shootings as their top concern.
Foster Grandparent Program in D.C. Schools Gives Retirees a Small Stipend and Gives Students an Older Mentor
Cynthia Brown-Thomas’s job requires her to rise before the sun. It pays a meager stipend of $2.65 an hour. An exhausting display of patience is a must.
She credits the job with saving her life.
The 64-year-old retiree, who has survived two heart surgeries, is one of more than 200 D.C. seniors from low-income households working as classroom grandparents in the city’s schools.
As dusk settled on a hot, humid October evening, dozens of families lined up along a darkening country road, waiting for the Santa Fe High School homecoming parade to pass. They camped on folding chairs and the backs of pickup trucks, in the parking lots of dollar stores and auto repair shops.
The floats arrived awash in glitter, garland and the school colors of green and gold. Kids tossed candy and beads from flatbeds. Spectators hooted and hollered at the Santa Fe Indians football team and the high-stepping Tribal Belle dance squad.
The note has hung on her bedroom wall since her friend was shot and killed at school.
Nearly four years ago, Cheyenne Coe ripped it from her middle-school yearbook and pinned it there to remember.
Five candidates for Teton County School District No. 1’s board of trustees differed on some questions asked Monday at the League of Women Voters forum, but they agreed that arming teachers is a bad idea.
Two school boards in Wyoming voted to arm teachers last year as a school safety tool.
The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.
If Sherri Ybarra and Cindy Wilson had their last big face-to-face showdown Friday night, it showed.
The two state schools superintendent’s candidates took turns going on the offensive during a debate, aired statewide on Idaho Public Television. Ybarra repeatedly touted her experience and tried to paint her opponent as uninformed. Vowing repeatedly to “show up” for kids, Wilson painted the incumbent as out of touch, and accused Ybarra of misrepresenting the record on her school safety plan.
At least two members of the Jefferson County Board of Education say they want the state’s largest school district to discuss limiting or banning suspensions of some of its youngest students after a Courier Journal investigation found suspensions of elementary children had skyrocketed.
Board member Chris Kolb, who has long been critical of the number of suspensions in Jefferson County Public Schools, said he is going to “push really hard” to have a moratorium on elementary and preschool suspensions, with a few exceptions.
The littlest learners in Jefferson County Public Schools were suspended more than 7,600 days last year — the equivalent of 21 years — as the district’s use of its harshest punishment on elementary students skyrocketed.
JCPS is doling out suspensions at a higher rate — in one case, at roughly five times the rate — than its peer districts across the country, a Courier Journal investigation has found.
It’s hard to overstate the potential implications for education in the 2018 elections. The reasons have less to do with the high-profile battle for control of Congress. It’s really about the volume of state-level contests in November.
Federal Officials Withhold Grant Money From Chicago Public Schools, Citing Failure to Protect Students from Sexual Abuse
Federal officials are withholding millions of dollars in grant money from Chicago Public Schools because of its failure to protect students from sexual violence, a rare step that signals intensifying efforts by the U.S. Department of Education to investigate complaints in the district since the Tribune exposed pervasive problems this summer.
Security companies spent years pushing schools to buy more products — from “ballistic attack-resistant” doors to smoke cannons that spew haze from ceilings to confuse a shooter. But sales were slow, and industry’s campaign to free up taxpayer money for upgrades had stalled.
That changed last February, when a former student shot and killed 17 people at a Florida high school. Publicly, the rampage reignited the U.S. gun-control debate. Privately, it propelled industry efforts to sell school fortification as the answer to the mass killing of American kids.
At the los angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, administrators had a well-worn routine they followed anytime a child died, or came close to dying, at the hands of a parent or guardian—something that typically happened at least a couple of times a month.
When it rains, water pours through the windows of classrooms at Maury High.
Lenee Wade, an AP English teacher whose classroom is on the second floor, is used to it. She and many other teachers put up decorations to cover the water stains. This classroom, the second she’s taught in at Maury, actually is an improvement over the first, she said.
“There’s a lot of learning that takes place here, even with all this,” Wade said.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
‘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)
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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)
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.
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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.
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.
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.
A year-long investigation into Michigan’s charter schools by the Detroit Free Press uncovered wasteful spending, cozy contracts, and missed opportunities to shut down long-struggling campuses, according to the newspaper.
More students are walking into classrooms with high stress levels than in previous generations, but a few innovative schools are helping kids cope with these challenges and succeed academically.
For students who have experienced trauma at home, nothing replaces a caring adult at school, said Bill Bond, the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ specialist for school safety. And teachers the most likely to provide counseling at school, said Bond during an EWA National Seminar panel discussion on student mental health.
An organization of Latino parents and youth has released a new report praising Colorado for progress the state has made in the discipline of Latino students.
The group has been critical of how strict disciplinary policies can contribute to a “school-to-prison pipeline,” reports Fox News Latino. The organization previously accused Colorado schools of using zero tolerance policies that swept students of color into the legal system.
This week, Emily Richmond sits down with the Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond to talk about her exhaustive investigation into Oregon’s chronic absentee problem.
Research suggests that suspensions, expulsions, and other disciplinary actions that remove youth from their classrooms put students at greater risk for poor academic and behavioral outcomes. These students are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, receive future disciplinary actions, or become involved in the juvenile justice system. Youth of color, English Language Learners (ELLs), LGBT youth, and those with identified special education needs tend to experience exclusionary discipline actions at higher rates than their peers.
I’m in Atlanta right now, where schools took every precaution to avoid a repeat of the logistical nightmare that unfolded two weeks ago when two inches of snow paralyzed the city. And with the roadways iced over and the precipitation piling up, it looks like education officials made the right decision.
Former New York CIty Mayor Michael Bloomberg viewed breaking up large failing high schools and creating smaller ones as one potential remedy to closing the achievement gap.
Now his successor, newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio will have the opportunity to reverse the program.
In a commentary piece for Education Week, University of California, Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller writes that many of the smaller campuses just furthered segregation by race and class. Small schools sometimes have just 200 students.
As more school districts share data with parents and teachers, privacy advocates warn that they run the risk of violating students’ privacy.
Dropout prevention is one of the holy grails in U.S. education policy, and for good reason. Stick around long enough to earn a diploma, and you’re instantly more likely to have a job, rely less on government subsistence and even make the leap to postsecondary learning.
With the release of audio recordings of the Sandy Hook 911 calls, media outlets are weighing the news value of using them against the inevitable criticism that to do so is macabre exploitation.
In the battle to conquer chronic absenteeism, students who already have a track record of skipping class can be a particularly tough crowd to sway. But a new report out of New York City — where one out of every five students missed a month or more of school last year — suggests an intensive community-wide initiative is gaining ground.
The New York Times Magazine’s annual education issue is out, and as always there’s a healthy mix of policy, practice, real-world realities for schools and students, deep dives, and memorable profiles.I imagine Carlo Rotella’s lead story on No Child Left Untableted will get generate quite a bit of response in the classroom technology debate.But I was just as interested in Jennifer Kahn’s piece on the attempt to cultivate
With most schools back in session for the new academic year, it seemed like a good time to catch up on one of the most popular sessions from EWA’s 66th National Seminar, held in May at Stanford University. Today’s guest blogger is Maura Walz of EdNews Colorado. Stream sessions from National Seminar in your browser, or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.Form
A conservative think tank is offering an online quiz to help parents identify their educational priorities – and to demonstrate that diverse groups have more in common in their expectations for schools and students than many people might think.