Blog: The Educated Reporter
Is Your Community’s “Free College” Program “Bait and Switch”?
By asking the five Ws, journalists can identify the fine print in College Promise programs.
“Free college” is an increasingly popular rallying cry for politicians. There are now more than 200 programs that seek to deliver on that promise around the country, and more being proposed nearly every month.
April 20th marks a somber milestone: two decades since what author Dave Cullen has called the first school shooting to be televised.
The ongoing debate over how to implement preventative measures without turning schoolhouses into fortresses means education reporters will continue to focus on this seminal tragedy and its ripple effects long after the anniversary date passes.
The Surprising Real-World Impacts of Edu-Jargon Debates
Washington's battles over the definitions of terms like "credit hour" could affect millions of college students.
Millions of Americans could be affected by ongoing inside-the-beltway debates over the exact definitions of wonky terms such as ”credit hour” or “gainful employment,” according to two veteran Washington policy insiders.
The 2018 midterm “blue wave” that split party control of the U.S. Congress and narrowed the Republican edge among governors to 27-23 will likely mean political battles over several higher education issues.
An American Boy in a Chinese School
In 'Little Soldiers,' journalist shares her family's immersion into Shanghai Province education system, amid China's push for globally competitive students
(EWA Radio: Episode 175)
Around the time that China’s Shanghai province was drawing international attention for top scores on a global exam, U.S. journalist Lenora Chu and her husband moved into their new Shanghai home. They lived just blocks away from a highly-regarded primary school that she calls a “laboratory for Chinese education reform,” and managed to secure a spot for their young son. The next few years gave Chu an inside look into Shanghai’s elite school system, and sparked a deeper interest in education in China.
Minnesota Needs More Teachers of Color. (But So Does Everywhere Else.)
The inter-state battle to attract more diverse teacher workforce
(EWA Radio: Episode 191)
The public school population in Minnesota, as in many other states, is becoming more diverse by race and ethnicity. But the teacher workforce? Not so much. About one-third of Minnesota students are non-white, compared with roughly 5 percent of teachers, as Faiza Mahamud and MaryJo Webster report for the Star Tribune newspaper. That’s a growing problem for educators and policymakers looking to give more students the opportunity to learn from someone who looks like them — a benefit researchers say can improve academic achievement, self esteem, and other factors in student success. Mahamud, who covers the Twin Cities’ public schools, spent time talking with students and families about what they’re looking for in classroom teachers, and how a lack of diversity can hurt family engagement, especially among newer immigrant families. Webster, the newspaper’s data editor, shares the ins and outs of finding — and crunching — statistics on teacher diversity, as well as some lessons learned from the project.
Why Strom Thurmond High School Won’t Change Its Name
The controversial past (and present) of schools named for segregationists.
(EWA Radio: Episode 199)
What’s in a name? That’s an increasingly complex question for communities with public schools named after segregationist politicians. Two Education Week reporters, Corey Mitchell and Andrew Ujifusa, are tracking both the campuses and controversy. Education Week built a database of 22 schools in eight states named for politicians who signed a document known as the “Southern Manifesto,” protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision in 1954 on school desegregation. Increasingly, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center are advocating to turn the controversy into a “teachable moment” for these schools. What’s keeping school officials, including at South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond High School, from renaming campuses? How do students feel about the controversy? And what questions should reporters ask when they dig into the anti-civil rights legacies of these namesakes?
Kansas Needs Nurses. So Why Do Engineering Schools Get More Money?
Dual credit programs, technical colleges getting big boost in Sunflower State
(EWA Radio: Episode 203)
Kansas, like many states, is pouring millions of dollars into dual-credit programs, technical colleges and other initiatives aimed at preparing more students for the so-called “college economy,” where advanced training is a prerequisite for well-paying jobs. But are those investments paying off? In an eight-part series for the Kansas News Service, reporters Celia Llopis-Jepsen and Stephen Bisaha look at the state’s push to get more students into postsecondary programs, and to keep them from taking their highly desirable skill sets to employers in other states.
‘Operation Varsity Blues’: The Real Story Isn’t the Admissions Scandal.
How federal investigation of ‘side doors’ into elite colleges sheds light on larger inequities for underserved students
(EWA Radio: Episode 202)
Nearly 50 people, including 33 parents, have been indicted in what the U.S. Department of Justice is calling its largest-ever fraud investigation in college admissions. Looking beyond the celebrity-driven headlines on bribery and fraud allegations, how can education reporters seize the moment to examine the underlying societal and institutional factors that fuel admissions inequities in postsecondary admissions?
The details of bribery and fraud involving some of the nation’s most elite colleges unveiled in the “Operation Varsity Blues” admissions scandal are jaw-dropping. But the underlying premise — that wealth can buy entry to prestigious universities – has been a subject of many journalistic investigations over recent decades.
Rocky Times on the Rocky Mountain Education Beat
From teacher strikes and school safety to covering local news in a time of dwindling resources
(EWA Radio: Episode 201)
In Colorado, Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez is covering education and a little bit of everything else. That’s a challenge in a state with plenty of school-related stories, and at a newspaper where recent layoffs are straining newsroom capacity. She discusses the recent Denver teacher strike, the first such labor action in 25 years, as well as her coverage of the rising cost to school districts of investigating social media threats. Hernandez, who is soon moving to take over the higher education beat, explains how she uses social media as a reporting and engagement tool in her daily work, and why reporting on educational equity gaps and the experiences of first-generation college students are among her top priorities. She also discusses taking on a high-profile role speaking out against management decisions — and massive layoffs — by her newspaper’s owners. How has becoming a public advocate for local journalism changed her professional perspective?
Behind Bars and in College
Postsecondary education in Illinois’ prison system
(EWA Radio: Episode 200)
If you’re an inmate in Illinois, what educational programs are available to help you get your life back on track? That’s the question public radio reporter Lee Gaines set out to answer in an ongoing series. As part of an EWA Reporting Fellowship, Gaines looks at how severe budget cuts in Illinois, plus changes to eligibility for federal Pell Grant dollars, have reduced the number of prisoners earning postsecondary credentials and degrees.