Blog: The Educated Reporter
One Year After Parkland: How Reporters Have Covered the Story
Key events and news coverage from the past year
This week marks a somber anniversary in the United States — one year since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The massacre on February 14, 2018, left 14 students and 3 staff members dead, and many others wounded.
What’s Betsy DeVos Up To?
School safety, student loans, and Title IX on front burner as U.S. Secretary of Education begins her third year
(EWA Radio: Episode 197)
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, now one of President Trump’s longest-serving cabinet members, shows no signs she’s contemplating stepping down before the president’s first term ends. Alyson Klein of Education Week and Emily Wilkins of Bloomberg Government discuss regulatory rollbacks by the U.S. Department of Education on issues including how campus sexual assault claims are handled and consumer protections for student financial aid. They also explore the new political dynamics now that Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives, with Rep. Bobby Scott chairing the Committee on Education and Labor. What are the odds of Congress passing the long-overdue reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, for example? Plus, Klein and Wilkins identify hot topics that local reporters should keep on their radar, including ESSA implementation by states and whether a federal infrastructure package would provide money for school construction.
What Are the Rules for Charter Schools? It Depends.
In wake of 2018 elections, more change is afoot in states
In the often-heated debates over charter schools, it’s easy for the public — and reporters — to see them as monolithic.
A recent report on charter school laws serves as a good reminder that ground rules for the sector — and not just the profiles of individual schools — often vary significantly from state to state.
How Beauty School Students Get ‘Tangled Up in Debt’
For-profit colleges promise more than they deliver
(EWA Radio: Episode 196)
In Iowa, private cosmetology schools are reaping big profits at the expense of their students. That’s the key takeaway from a new investigation by reporters Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report. Students are spending upward of $20,000 to earn a cosmetology certificate—comparable to the cost of two associates’ degrees at a community college. Additionally, Iowa’s requirement for 2,100 hours of training, significantly higher than many other states, means students have to wait longer to start their full-time careers. Additionally, they’re often required to work at their school’s salon while taking classes, and bring in revenue by selling services and products. How did Butrymowicz and Kolodner crunch the national and local numbers on outcomes for these for-profit colleges? Who’s holding such programs accountable? And what advice do they have for local reporters covering career certification programs in their own communities?
It’s time for education reporters to take back coverage of school funding.
Too often, news outlets rely on journalists covering state government to also report on money for schools, said Daarel Burnette II, a reporter for Education Week. But journalists on the education beat bring valuable context and perspective on how schools work and the impact of funding.
“This is within our wheelhouse as education reporters, so don’t forget that,” Burnette advised journalists in November during an Education Writers Association seminar on educational equity.
For These Boston Valedictorians, Good Grades Weren’t Enough.
K-12 and college systems both failed to prepare and support students, The Boston Globe's investigation finds
(EWA Radio: Episode 195)
Ever wonder what happened to your high school’s valedictorian after graduation? So did The Boston Globe, which set off to track down the city’s top students from the classes of 2005-07. Globe reporters Malcolm Gay and Meghan Irons learned that a quarter of the nearly 100 valedictorians they located failed to complete college within six years. Some had experienced homelessness. Many have struggled in lower-skilled jobs than they had aspired to. What went wrong? To what extent did their high school education fail to prepare them? What should colleges do to better support students? Gay and Irons discuss their project, tell the stories of individual valedictorians, and share tips for journalists looking to undertake similar reporting in their own communities.
Changing Demographics Mean Better College Odds for ‘Slugs’
A baby bust is forcing newsworthy changes to college admissions.
America’s declining birth rate has sweeping implications for the U.S. economy and society – especially its education system. Already, a decline in the number of 18-year-olds is forcing many colleges to take actions that journalists should cover, such as: changing recruiting practices, cutting costs, and, in some cases, going out of business, according to a panel of college officials, researchers and journalists speaking at a recent Education Writers Association seminar.
Rural schools often get short shrift in the national dialogue on improving education and addressing achievement gaps, whether it’s policy debates, research, or news coverage. That’s a big mistake, according to participants in a recent EWA panel discussion, who made the case for reporters to pay more attention to education in rural communities.
Three Rules for Covering Campus Hate Incidents
Get the legalities right, put the data in context, and do followup.
Hate crimes on university campuses have spiked since 2015. The U.S. Department of Education reported a 25 percent jump in 2016. A recent FBI report said the bureau’s count of hate crime reports at schools or colleges jumped 36 percent in 2017.
Will Cursive Make a Comeback?
States and schools battle over requiring formal handwriting instruction
(EWA Radio: Episode 194)
Has any part of the curriculum come back from the dead as many times as cursive handwriting? From Connecticut to California, lawmakers are alternatively fighting to either mandate or ban cursive instruction, in some cases leaving the verdict up to individual districts and schools. The latter is the case in Maine, reports Noel Gallagher of The Portland Press Herald, where the cursive debate offers a window into the state’s long-held preference for local control. What are some surprising ways mastering the art of cursive writing might help students, according to advocates? And where should reporters be skeptical about claims of purported benefits, particularly when it comes to brain development in younger students?
‘Lessons Lost’: How Student Churn Holds Back Kids, Schools
In Wisconsin, high student turnover slows school improvement
(EWA Radio: Episode 193)
In an in-depth investigative series, Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looks at how high rates of student mobility — changing schools at least once during an academic year — hurts their academic progress. Among the findings: 1 in 10 students statewide are moving between campuses annually. The figure is significantly higher in Milwaukee, where 1 in 4 students change schools during the year. How do Wisconsin’s school choice options factor into student churn? How did Richards crunch the data? And what solutions are educators and policymakers floating to combat mobility? Richards, who recently joined USA Today as a national education reporter, offers story ideas for local journalists looking at high turnover in their own districts.
In New England, Efforts to Rethink Educational Practices Grow
But pushback on 'competency-based' approach serves as cautionary note
Across New England, policymakers and school leaders are experimenting with new models of learning, including those that are student-centered, personalized, and competency-based. One of the goals is to close stubborn achievement gaps between rich and poor students and white students and students of color.
But these educational shifts have not been universally embraced by the states’ students, parents and teachers. Maine, for example, one of the first states to pass a law requiring competency-based education, recently reversed course.