Agenda: Covering Higher Education’s New Political Landscape

Washington, D.C. • January 28-29, 2019

*Tentative agenda. Subject to change.

Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019
Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco DC

“Unlikely” Documentary Screening (Optional)
5:45 – 7:15 p.m.
This documentary follows five low-income students as they struggle to overcome hurdles to completing college. Along the way, it explores new approaches to earning college credit. Join us at the hotel wine hour for a free glass of wine, then we’ll all head up to the EWA suite for the viewing. We’ll provide the popcorn.

Post-Screening Conversation (Optional)
7:15 – 7:35 p.m.
Reporters brainstorm how to best cover issues raised by the documentary.

  • Goldie Blumenstyk, The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Kim Clark, EWA

Monday, January 28
Kimpton Hotel Monaco DC

Registration & Breakfast
8:15 – 8:45 a.m.

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.

  • Caroline Hendrie, EWA

Elections Have Consequences: What’s Next for Higher Ed?
9:00 – 9:45 a.m.
With shifts in political power across the country as a result of the 2018 elections, higher education reporters have a lot to keep their eyes on. What stories should be at the top of the list? A veteran higher education policy reporter leads a conversation with experts on the trends you’ll likely see in 2019 as a result of the new political climate.

  • Thomas Harnisch, American Association of State Colleges and Universities
  • Diane Auer Jones, U.S. Department of Education
  • Eric Kelderman, The Chronicle of Higher Education (moderator)

Deregulation of Higher Ed: What Reporters Need to Know
10:00 – 10:45 a.m.
“Deregulation” may sound like a boring buzzword, but it could have a big impact on today’s college students. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is attempting to free colleges from regulations imposed by the Obama administration. Hear from proponents and skeptics of deregulation, as well as a reporter who has covered the subject extensively.

  • David Cleary, Office of Senator Lamar Alexander
  • Jorge Klor de Alva, Nexus Research and Policy Center
  • Spiros Protopsaltis, George Mason University
  • Michael Stratford, Politico (moderator)

College Accountability Data Training
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Attendees choose between training sessions on how to find and use federal data that reveal:

Option 1: How well each college performs in graduating students from different demographic groups. (A good start for those with basic data skills.)

  • Wil Del Pilar, The Education Trust
  • Jill Barshay, The Hechinger Report (moderator)

Option 2: How well former students at each college do financially after they leave school. (Best for those with some data skills.)

  • Ben Miller, Center for American Progress
  • Kim Clark, EWA (moderator)

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.

Student Voting, Activism, and Civic Engagement
1:15 – 2:00 p.m.
Get the latest data on the impact student voters had on the 2018 elections, and indications of what impact they’ll have going forward. Also, speakers address growing campus efforts to get students to discuss issues civilly.

  • Nadiyah Edwards, Morgan State University
  • Abraham Goldberg, James Madison Center for Civic Engagement
  • Nancy Thomas, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University
  • Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed (moderator)

U.S. Capitol Tour
2:45 – 3:45 p.m.
Dirksen Senate Office Building

Congressional Meeting on The Hill
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Rayburn House Office Building

  • Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor

Tuesday, January 29
Kimpton Hotel Monaco DC

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

What’s the Price of Free College?
9:00  – 9:45 a.m.
As more states look to pilot “free college” programs, and Democrats look to embrace the programs for their 2020 campaigns, reporters are faced with many questions. Researchers and policy analysts assist with background information and data that can help answer questions like: What’s the price of free college? Who is actually benefiting from the discounts?  How do the costs and benefits balance out?

  • Lanae Erickson, Third Way
  • Tiffany Jones, The Education Trust
  • Donna Thomas, Maryland Higher Education Commission
  • Ashley Smith, Inside Higher Ed (moderator)

Student Loans: The Legal and Financial Battles That Will Make News in 2019
10:00 – 10:45 a.m.
The phrase “student loans” is consistently one of the most-searched terms on Google, outpacing even celebrities like Chance the Rapper or Miranda Lambert. Student loan stories will get a lot of attention in 2019 because state attorneys general and consumer lawyers are battling the U.S. Department of Education and private servicers over issues such as loan forgiveness and consumer protection. Get crucial background and planning information from important players and experts.

  • Aaron Ament, National Student Legal Defense Network
  • James Bergeron, National Council of Higher Education Resources
  • Colleen Campbell, Center for American Progress
  • Jillian Berman, MarketWatch (moderator)

Campaign Finance Data Training
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
A key skill in journalism is to follow the money, gauging possible conflicts of interest and financial influences on people in positions of power. Although the elections are over, newly elected officials — and the people who donate to their campaigns — wield long-lasting influence. In this workshop, journalists learn about two campaign finance databases — and ProPublica’s Electionland. They also get tips for sussing out higher education stakeholders who received or donated money, and how the money might influence their actions on higher education decisions.

  • Edwin Bender,
  • Derek Willis, ProPublica
  • Marquita Brown, EWA (moderator)

12:15 – 1:00 p.m.

FOIA 101
1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
What are some foundational tips journalists should know when requesting public records? What are effective strategies to push back against a records request roadblock? Get tips for filing strong (or stronger) public records requests. Also, bring a request for a hands-on workshop/critique session.

  • Jessie Gomez, MuckRock
  • Scott Travis, South Florida Sun Sentinel (moderator)