2022 News (Large Newsroom) Winners

Talia Richman, Corbett Smith, Emily Donaldson & Eva-Marie Ayala, The Dallas Morning News

About the Winners:

Texas’ (and the nation’s) largest teacher provider was misleading would-be educators and, in many cases, tripping up their journey to the classroom with wrong information and bad customer service. Yet the alternative certification company called Texas Teachers of Tomorrow – which enrolled nearly 70,000 would-be educators in the program in 2021 – was on track for continued operating approval from the state.

That was until reporters Talia Richman, Corbett Smith and Emily Donaldson investigated the for-profit program, combing through hundreds of pages of complaints and state records. They discovered that the behemoth company misled potential teachers with its advertising, didn’t support candidates and failed to demonstrate that its training was based in research.

The Ed Lab’s reporting – which was widely shared across the country – also prompted numerous outraged teachers to flood the State Board for Educator Certification members with their own experiences. Their stories and the mounting pressure from the public forced officials to take meaningful accountability action.

Comments From the Judges:

“Texas’ largest teacher-prep program might have continued churning out lightly trained educators if the Dallas Morning News had not shined a light on the fact that they had not passed a state audit. The stories did an excellent job illustrating the problems with this program and explaining the state’s acknowledged need for more teachers. The impact on other states is noteworthy.”

“Reporters dug beyond a 2021 critical state audit to reveal widespread and continuing problems in the operation of an online teacher preparation for-profit company, the primary preparation vehicle for Texas teachers. The company’s own data says it all: it enrolled 70,000 and fewer than 5,500 got certified. Reporters gave voice to the many who needlessly invested their time and money. The company remains on probation.”