May 17-19, 2012

National Seminar 2012

65th National Seminar – Learning from Leaders: What Works for Stories and Schools

EWA held its 65th National Seminar in Philadelphia May 17-19. The conference featured roughly 120 speakers and 40 sessions.

The sessions are featured chronologically. We will continue to update as we obtain more materials.

*Names that contain a hyperlink open up to a video, PowerPoint, or PDF

Photos from the National Seminar

Thursday, May 17

Site Visit – Tackling Turnarounds: Mastery Charter Schools

Site Visit – Leaders in Literacy: Samuel Powel Elementary School (Children’s Literacy Initiative)

Shifting States: What’s in Store from Common Core – Forty-six states plus the District of Columbia have pledged to use the Common Core standards, and all but five states are involved in collaborative efforts to develop related assessments.

Moderator: Fawn Johnson, correspondent for National Journal

  • Cherry Boyles, instructional supervisor for Washington County Schools, Springfield, Ky.
  • Gov. Jack Markell, State of Delaware
  • Andrew Porter, professor of Education and dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Kathleen Porter-Magee, senior director of the High Quality Standards Program at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Video of session


Learning from Experts on How to Observe Classrooms – How do educators conduct and use observations of teaching? What can journalists learn from educators on how to watch and interpret what goes on in schools? Video examples provided.

  • Bridget Hamre, associate director of University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning
  • Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation


Advocates’ Session: Moving the Iceberg on Social Media –  Not everyone has entered the social media landscape, and many larger agencies and institutions still aren’t using these tools effectively. Learn lessons from leaders on making social media drive results.

Moderator: Alan Richard, senior account supervisor, Hager Sharp

  • Ian Cahir, social media strategist and former reporter, Princeton University
  • Barry Reicherter, senior vice president of digital strategy, Widmeyer Communications
  • Jen Segal, social media strategist, Hager Sharp

How to Do Enterprise Stories on the Fly – Journalists share techniques that K-12 and higher education reporters can use to complete enterprise stories while juggling daily responsibilities in time-starved newsrooms.

Moderator: Lauren Roth, education reporter, Orlando Sentinel

  • Stephanie Banchero, national education reporter, The Wall Street Journal
  • Cathy Grimes, team editor, Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.
  • Samantha Hernandez, reporter, Door County Advocate, Wis.
  • Mackenzie Ryan, education reporter, Florida Today

Top Reporters’ Tips on Mining School and College Data –  Journalists provide advice on how to use data in your coverage. Topics include how to file Freedom of Information requests for data involving individual student records and how to analyze college completion data.

  • Jack Gillum, investigative reporter, The Associated Press
  • Nancy Mitchell, news editor, Education News Colorado
  • Scott Smallwood, managing editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education

How to Improve Your Access to Schools – A roundtable including journalists, a public information officer and a principal discuss how reporters can better gain access to schools and classrooms.

Moderator: Erin Richards, education reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • Terry Corallo, director of communications, Paterson Public Schools, N.J.
  • Michael Foran, principal, New Britain High School in New Britain, Conn.
  • Rose Ciotta, senior editor for digital/print projects, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Susan Snyder, higher education reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Podcast of session:

Using Federal Education and Census Data in Reporting – Learn about how to use data from the Common Core of Data, the Student and Staffing Survey, and the American Community Survey, as well as the tools that the NCES has developed to enhance the experience.

Session Guide 

Moderator: Julie Mack, K-12 education reporter, Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette

  • Stephen Cornman, statistician, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

Examining College Spending and Its Link to Price: A Practical Workshop –  More students and families are asking why college costs so much and why the price continues to rise. This workshop examines the trends behind these college tuition increases, with guidance on how journalists can make better sense of the numbers.

Session PowerPoint

Moderator: Kim Clark, senior writer, Money

  • Matt Hamill, senior vice president of advocacy and issue analysis, National Association of College and University Business Officers
  • Steve Hurlburt, deputy director, Delta Cost Project, American Institutes for Research
  • Kathleen Payea, policy analyst, College Board


School Violence: What Reporters Can Uncover – In many communities, campus violence and student discipline issues are ever-present concerns for educators struggling to make schools safe places to work and learn. Members of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team from The Philadelphia Inquirer and others discuss the newspaper’s year-long project on school violence and its impact on the community.

  • Lorene Cary, member, Philadelphia School Reform Board
  • Rose Ciotta, senior editor for digital/print projects, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Helen Gym, founder, Parents United for Public Education
  • Susan Snyder, reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Bach Tong, student, Science Leadership Academy


Cutting Edge Web Tools for Journalists – Discover creative ways to use Web tools you’ve never heard of, and new uses for tools you thought you had already mastered.

  • Joshua Benton, director, Nieman Journalism Lab
  • Tracy Loew, database/projects reporter, Salem Statesman Journal, Salem, Ore.
  • Matt Stiles, database reporting coordinator, NPR’s StateImpact


What About Principals?  –  A great deal of attention has focused on teachers and school turnarounds, but how can effective teachers or schools become without strong leaders? Find out how researchers are documenting the skills principals need to be powerful instructional leaders even as reformers build new pipelines to grow the supply.

Moderator: Karin Chenoweth, writer-in-residence, Education Trust

  • Douglas Anthony, director of human capital management, Prince George’s County, Md.
  • Robert Bender, principal, PS 11, New York City
  • Andrew Porter, professor and dean, Penn Graduate School of Education
  • Steve Tozer, professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago


Are Vouchers Making a Comeback? –With the political changes to state legislatures in 2010, vouchers and tax credits for private schools are making a comeback. This session features a debate between a supporter and critic of using public funds to expand private school choice.

Moderator: Scott Elliott, education reform reporter, The Indianapolis Star

  • Robert Enlow, president and CEO, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
  • Tom Gentzel, executive director, Pennsylvania School Boards Association


Covering ‘Collective Impact’ and Its Link to Education –Several programs are emerging that look at not just academics but how to make sure that families get the services they need so children arrive at school fully ready to learn. Strive Partnership and Say Yes to Education are among the programs that can serve as models for emerging Promise Neighborhoods.

Moderator: Diette Courrégé, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

  • Jeff Edmondson, managing director, Strive Partnership
  • John Kania, managing director, FSG
  • Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, president, Say Yes to Education
  • Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, U.S. Department of Education


Will Open Source College Courses Roil the Waters? – The University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University are joining schools such as MIT, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon in making some of their courses available free online, sans credit for now. What questions should reporters be asking about this move to give everyone everywhere access to a college education?

Moderator: Jeff Young, senior writer, The Chronicle of Higher Education

  • Kevin Carey, policy director, Education Sector
  • Jeffrey Himpele, associate director, The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, Princeton University
  • Joshua Kim, director of learning and technology, Master of Health Care Delivery Science program, Dartmouth College
  • Peter Struck, associate professor of classical studies, University of Pennsylvania


Stories I’d Like to See About Education – The contentious debate over how to best reshape America’s public education system has educators, parents and policymakers choosing sides. Veteran journalist and entrepreneur Steven Brill will offer a provocative road map to help education writers navigate this fertile territory. Brill will also apply the premise of his weekly Reuters column, “Stories I’d Like to See,” to the education beat, based on research for his 2011 book on school reform.


Friday, May 18

The Federal Role in Transforming Education – Michael Bennet has the benefit of a dual vantage point on education reform, having served as superintendent of Denver Public Schools and now U.S. senator from Colorado since 2010. He will discuss teaching as a transformative profession and the prospects for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.

Introduction: Scott Elliott, education reform reporter, The Indianapolis Star

  • U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado

Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness – America’s teaching corps has become the focus of intense reform activity in recent years. A single, but by no means simple, question sits at the center of much of this work: How can we transform teaching into a prestigious profession? In this special plenary session, a series of expert speakers delivers succinct talks over the course of the morning on various aspects of this critical topic.

Here are stories about the talks.

Can Community Colleges Get Better? – More than ever, community colleges are being seen as key to getting millions of Americans the education they need to thrive. Yet while many students enter community colleges for job training that does not culminate in a degree, many more intend to get a degree but fall short. What can change? What are examples of model community colleges?

Moderator: Mary Beth Marklein, higher education reporter, USA Today

  • David Baime, senior vice president for government relations, American Association of Community Colleges
  • Judith Gay, vice president for academic affairs, Community College of Philadelphia
  • Mark Schneider, vice president, American Institutes for Research
  • Amy E. Slaton, associate professor, history and politics, Drexel University
  • Josh Wyner, executive director, College Excellence Program, The Aspen Institute

Podcast on session:

New Research on State Policy and College-Going Gaps – In a new analysis, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania make the case that some state higher education policies may be aggravating social stratification and widening college-going gaps. Are states implementing the right policies to improve higher education, or are they making matters worse? Are there solutions? How should reporters cover these issues?

Moderator: Scott Jaschik, co-founder and editor, Inside Higher Ed

  • Joni Finney, practice professor of higher education, University of Pennsylvania
  • Laura Perna, professor of education, University of Pennsylvania
  • Ryan Reyna, program director, National Governors Association

Podcast on session:

Through the Fire: Fixing Newark’s Schools –The Honorable Cory A. Booker, 42, is serving his second term as the mayor of Newark, N.J., the largest city in the state of New Jersey. Mayor Booker and his administration, together with the City’s residents, have made meaningful strides towards achieving the city’s mission by tackling significant challenges with innovation, new coalitions, creative public private partnerships and building on the already existing great foundation in New Jersey’s most historic city. He will discuss efforts to bolster Newark’s schools, and to ensure greater equity and opportunities for the city’s children.

Video of the Session


Cory ‘Superman’ Booker: Fix Urban Schools Now, Gary Stern, The Journal News, May 18, 2012

Newark Mulls Teacher Buyouts, Lisa Fleisher, Wall Street Journal, May 18

Cory Booker: Great American Crisis of Our Generation is Education, Dave Murray, MLive, May 20, 2012

Newark Weighs Options to Cut Bloated Teacher Ranks, Samantha Henry, The Associated Press, May 22, 2012

Should Funding and Facilities Follow the Child? –Charter advocates are pushing for greater access to facilities and more equitable funding. At the same time, some school districts are seeing steep budget cuts, and in some cases facing bankruptcy, in part because of a shift of students and funding to charter schools.  We explore a range of perspectives on this complicated issue.

Moderator: Dale Mezzacappa, contributing editor, Philadelphia Public School Notebook

  • Bryan Hassel, co-director, Public Impact
  • Gary Miron, professor, Western Michigan University
  • Pedro Ramos, chairman, Philadelphia School Reform Board
  • Joe Williams, executive director, Democrats for Education Reform


Beyond Race? Affirmative Action Up for Debate – What are the implications for higher education institutions of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the use of racial preferences in admissions?  Experts on opposite sides of the debate offer their perspectives, while a seasoned higher education journalist points reporters to the related questions and issues they should explore.

Moderator:  Scott Jaschik, co-founder and editor, Inside Higher Ed

  • Roger Clegg, president and general counsel, Center for Equal Opportunity
  • Michael A. Olivas, professor and director, Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance, University of Houston Law Center


Building Narratives Around Dropping Out –  Every year, legions of students disappear from American high school classrooms. If school principals are lucky, they can track them down. But even when they do, it’s often tough to convince students to stay in school.  A columnist describes his year following a struggling high school and a filmmaker shares clips from an upcoming Frontline documentary.

Moderator: John Tulenko, senior correspondent, Learning Matters Inc.

  • Frank Koughan, filmmaker, Frontline
  • Matt Tully, columnist, The Indianapolis Star

Access to High-Quality Care for Disadvantaged Kids – How is the economic downturn affecting early learning? What are the implications for disadvantaged families as subsidized child-care slots are cut back? Is kindergarten also affected?

Moderator: Liz Willen, editor, The Hechinger Report

  • Harriet Dichter, national director, First Five Years Fund
  • Will Kinder, education policy associate, Children’s Defense Fund


What Is Being Done to Shore Up Charter Quality? – What is the best way to develop high-quality charter schools? What role does authorizing play to make good on the autonomy-for-accountability bargain? Some choice advocates say it’s better to let a thousand flowers bloom, while others insist on a high bar for new charters.

Moderator: Tom Toch, senior fellow, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

  • Jeanne Allen, founder and director, Center for Education Reform
  • Gary Miron, professor, Western Michigan University
  • Greg Richmond, president and CEO, National Association for Charter School Authorizers
  • Martha Woodall, education reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer


Summer Idyll or Idle? Combating Learning Loss – The summer idyll is far from ideal for many children who grow up in poverty. Typically, they lose more learning over the summer than middle-class children, fueling achievement gaps. What is being done to avert summer learning loss? What are promising models for enriching the summers of disadvantaged kids?

Moderator: Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, assistant managing editor-online, Education Week

  • Catherine Augustine, senior policy researcher, RAND
  • Gary Huggins, CEO, National Summer Learning Association
  • Kathryn LeRoy, chief academic officer, Duval County Public Schools


Blending Classroom and Online Learning: Best of Both Worlds? –  Blended learning combines in-person teaching with online courses so that students can widen their course-taking horizons while receiving face-to-face attention. Is blended learning the best of both worlds or too good to be true? This panel explores the pluses and minuses of this emerging approach.

Moderator: Jonathan Schorr, partner, NewSchools Venture Fund

  • Lisa Andrejko, superintendent, Quakertown Community Schools
  • Scott Benson, program officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Karen Cator, director, Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education
  • Michael Horn, co-founder, Innosight Institute; Chris Lehmann, principal, Science Leadership Academy


College Affordability: Covering the Costs – President Obama called for making college more affordable in his 2012 State of the Union Address. But how? Do increases in federal financial aid spur mounting prices, or help more students afford higher education? Would incentives aimed at curbing tuition increases actually work? What about honesty about the true cost of college?

  • Michelle Asha Cooper, president, Institute for Higher Education Policy
  • Goldie Blumenstyk, senior writer and columnist, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Early Learning: The Key to Success? –Many researchers tout figures that show positive long-term academic and social effects for spending on early-childhood education. Just how authoritative is the research and why? What is the newest from brain research?

Moderator: Kathryn Baron, co-writer, Thoughts on Public Education

  • Steven Hicks, special assistant, U.S. Department of Education
  • Milagros Nores, assistant research professor, National Institute for Early Education Research
  • Lindsey Allard Agnamba, founder and director, School Readiness Consulting


Saturday, May 19

Are Americans Really ‘Losing Our Minds’?  – America’s colleges and universities are facing a dilemma. Critics say it costs too much to get a degree, but the authors of a new book argue that financial “solutions” won’t fix what is really wrong. Instead, they contend, colleges should give priority to genuine learning, so that graduates will be able to meet employers’ expectations by thinking critically, writing effectively and understanding complex issues.

Richard Hersh and Richard Keeling, co-authors of We’re Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education


Serious Fun: Making, Not Playing, Games for Learning – Many educators have created video games aimed at helping children learn. But far fewer have sought to spur learning by teaching students to create their own games. Does letting kids make their own games hold promise as a tool for engaging them in school? How can journalists explore the topic, and what questions should they ask?

  • Yasmin Kafai, professor of learning sciences, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

How Schools Use Data to Improve Learning – How are leading-edge districts and states working with data on student, teacher and school performance. Why do these systems matter and how do you make your readers care?

Moderator: Dorie Turner, education writer, The Associated Press

  • Kent Bechler, Corona-Norco Unified School District
  • Pauline Dow, associate superintendent, Ysleta Independent School District
  • Charles Thomas, principal, Crossland High School
  • Rob Waldron, president and CEO, Curriculum Associates


Looking at Patterns of Success, Not Failure, in Communities of Color – In the efforts to get more African-American men and other minorities through college, the emphasis is often on what goes wrong. But what makes things go right? A researcher shares his views on the mistakes journalists make and how they can better approach this topic, and journalists respond.

  • Shaun Harper, associate professor, University of Pennsylvania
  • Doug Lederman, co-editor and founder, Inside Higher Ed
  • Katherine Unmuth, education writer, Latino EdBeat


Story Lab – Chronic Absenteeism: Focus on the Data – How can reporters examine the data around absenteeism? Do school districts take absenteeism seriously? A new study indicates they probably do not, even though sizeable numbers of kids miss 10 percent or more of school. Experts will help you break down the numbers, while journalists will describe how they obtained data on absenteeism and how they ran their own analyses.

Moderator: Kavitha Cardoza, senior reporter, WAMU 88.5

  • Robert Balfanz, research scientist, Johns Hopkins University
  • Hedy Chang, director, Attendance Works
  • James Vaznis, K-12 education reporter, The Boston Globe
  • Jason Wermers, editor, the Statesboro (Ga.) Herald


Reporting on Turnaround Schools – School districts across the country – under pressure from the federal government – are revamping schools, sometimes through wholesale staff replacement or conversion to charter status.  Journalists who have tracked turnarounds for years offer advice on how their peers can cover this complex topic.

Moderator: Emily Richmond, public editor, Education Writers Association

  • Jennifer Brown, investigative reporter, The Denver Post
  • Sarah Garland, staff writer, The Hechinger Report
  • Alyson Klein, staff writer, Education Week
  • Toni Konz, K-12 education reporter, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.

A Philadelphia Story: Helping Public High School Graduates Succeed in College –Increasing the numbers of low-income and first-generation students who enroll and succeed in postsecondary education can prove a daunting challenge. Hear from speakers working on projects, such as the Philadelphia Postsecondary Success Program, that are making headway in the push to get kids from urban public high schools to and through college.

  • Joan Mazzotti, executive director, Philadelphia Futures
  • Rochelle Nichols-Solomon, director for postsecondary success, FHI 360
  • Eli Goldblatt, director, First Year Writing Program at Temple University


Lessons in Listening: StoryCorps Stories Celebrating Teachers and Students – Since 2003, the independent nonprofit organization StoryCorps has helped more than 80,000 people capture, preserve and share – via National Public Radio – some of the most meaningful moments of their lives. StoryCorps team members discuss and share audio clips from their National Teacher Initiative and StoryCorpsU.

Introduction: Stephanie Banchero, national education reporter, The Wall Street Journal

  • Tramaine Chelan’gat, associate manager of community engagement, StoryCorps
  • Melvin Reeves, associate director of education and special projects, StoryCorps

“He said, ‘You make sure you call that teacher.’

“At the time, I was tutoring at an after-school program…”

StoryCorps U

EWA thanks the sponsors who helped make its 65th National Seminar possible:Sponsors

Sustaining Sponsors
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Joyce Foundation
Lumina Foundation
The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation

Platinum Plus Sponsors
The College Board
W.K. Kellogg Foundation 

Gold Sponsors
American Institutes for Research
Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The Wallace Foundation

Bronze Sponsors
Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
National Education Association
Scholastic, Inc.

Event Supporters
Council of Chief State School Officers
First Five Years Fund
The Hatcher Group
Jobs for the Future
Measured Progress
University of Phoenix
Widmeyer Communications
Wireless Generation