Agenda: Formula for Fairness, Striving for Educational Equity

Providence • November 29-30, 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018
The Met High School

Registration and Breakfast
8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

9:00 – 9:20 a.m.

  • Caroline Hendrie, EWA

What Does Educational Equity — and Inequity — Look Like?
9:20 – 10:20 a.m.
Race, ethnicity, and family income are not supposed to dictate educational opportunity in America, but even after decades of efforts to level the playing field, large gaps persist. What are the barriers? School funding? Teacher quality? Segregation? Disparate academic expectations? Lack of student engagement? All of the above? Speakers address the challenges, but also what educational equity can and should look like, in the policy realm and the classroom.

  • Tequilla Brownie, TNTP
  • Nancy Diaz Bain, The Met High School
  • David Driscoll, former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education
  • Francisco Vara-Orta, Chalkbeat (moderator)

How I Did the Story (and What I Learned)
10:35 – 11:35 a.m.
From in-depth special projects to daily beat coverage, experienced journalists share ideas for improving the breadth and depth of reporting on educational equity. How do the voices of students and families fit into the narrative? What are innovative ways to access and use data? How can reporters be culturally sensitive when reporting on underserved students?

  • Jason Gonzales, The Tennessean
  • Erica Green, The New York Times
  • Matthew Kauffman, The Hartford Courant
  • Philissa Cramer, Chalkbeat (moderator)

Underserved and Overlooked? Educational Disparities in Rural America
11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The very nature of being a rural school presents challenges, such as recruiting top-notch teachers, offering rigorous and relevant courses, and generating sufficient local funding. Yet these schools often get short shrift in resources and support, not to mention news coverage. Speakers discuss how issues of equity play out in rural schools and communities, and why they should be on every reporter’s radar.

  • Noel Gallagher, Portland (Maine) Press Herald
  • Alan Richard, Rural School and Community Trust
  • Campbell Scribner, University of Maryland
  • Bracey Harris, The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi) (moderator)

12:30 – 1:15 p.m.

From the Big Picture to College Unbound: A Conversation With Dennis Littky
1:15 – 1:35 p.m.
Veteran educator Dennis Littky has long been known for breaking conventions in schooling. In this conversation, he discusses the origins and evolutions of The Met High School and Big Picture Learning, which aim to “put students at the center of their own learning.” He also discusses a postsecondary initiative that grew out of that work, called College Unbound.

  • Dennis Littky, Big Picture Learning and College Unbound
  • Caroline Hendrie, EWA (moderator)

Rethinking the Narratives on Inequity: ‘Gallery Walk’ With UChicago
1:40 – 2:30 p.m.
This interactive session uses texts and images to explore how narratives about students from historically marginalized groups impact their schooling experiences. What are the historical underpinnings of inequities in U.S. education? How are educators being prepared to counter these realities? What are the elements and activities found in learning environments that build on young people’s strengths? How can reporters better incorporate an awareness of these issues into their daily work?

  • Nicole Beechum, University of Chicago

Dollars and Sense: How to Cover School Finance
2:45 – 3:45 p.m.
Money may not be everything, but no serious discussion of educational equity can ignore the role of funding. Although complicated, school finance is a critical issue for the education beat. Speakers, including a pair of reporters who have covered the issue in depth, offer insights and practical advice, arming journalists with the right questions to ask.

  • Daarel Burnette II, Education Week
  • Mary Niederberger, PublicSource
  • Erik Robelen, EWA (moderator)

Empowering Families to Advance Educational Equity
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Nearly every school will tell you that they value family engagement. But with limited time and resources, or facing cultural and language barriers, schools often struggle to get parents, teachers, and students all on the same page. Panelists explore the connection between family engagement and equity, with specific attention to the role of race, class, and language.

  • David Park, Learning Heroes
  • Grace Valenzuela, Portland (Maine) Public Schools
  • Heather Weiss, Global Family Research Project
  • Tara García Mathewson, The Hechinger Report (moderator)

Evening Reception
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Omni Providence Hotel I Waterplace II & III

Friday, Nov. 30
The Met High School

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

A Primer for Touring the Met High School
9:20 – 9:40 a.m.
In preparation for student-led tours of campus, the school’s co-director offers a preview and suggests hallmarks to watch for during the visit.

  • Andrew Frishman, Big Picture Learning

The Met Experience
9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
The Met is the flagship campus of Big Picture Learning, which focuses on a “student-centered learning” approach. This includes internships, individual learning plans, intensive advisory support, and a college transition program. Journalists in small groups go on student-led tours to see what learning looks like at this innovative high school, which prides itself on weaving educational equity into its fabric.

New England Takeaways: Six States, Many Lessons
11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Across New England, efforts are afoot to rethink traditional practices in education to make schooling more student-centered, personalized, and competency-based. Closing equity and opportunity gaps are a key motivation. How effective have these efforts been? What are the lessons learned, and where are state leaders rethinking their approach?

  • Andrew Frishman, Big Picture Learning
  • Christopher Maher, Providence Public Schools
  • David Ruff, Great Schools Partnership
  • Bianca Vázquez Toness, WGBH (moderator)

12:15 – 1:00 p.m.

Education Data Workshops
1:00 – 3:15 p.m.
Participating journalists receive an introduction and hands-on training on how to use new, interactive data sets to tell education stories tailored to their own communities. The group is divided by experience level working with data. We offer a pair of novice-level sessions for reporters with minimal data-analysis experience and an advanced track for those with considerable data expertise.

–ProPublica — Federal civil rights data can provide plenty of fodder for news stories as well as challenges for journalists who aren’t aware of the data’s potential pitfalls. ProPublica has built an interactive database to examine racial disparities in education and student discipline, based on U.S. Department of Education data. Two journalists break down how to mine data on issues including achievement gaps, student suspensions, and access to advanced coursework to drive enterprising coverage.

  • Ryann Jones, ProPublica
  • Annie Waldman, ProPublica

–EdBuild — U.S. Census data, combined with property values and household income figures, expose the barriers between the haves and have-nots — islands of poverty, or financially struggling school systems within communities and states. Learn how to use a newly updated data set developed by EdBuild — a nonprofit that advocates for more equitable school funding — to tell stories about student poverty and funding inequities.

  • Rebecca Sibilia, EdBuild

Coffee & Cupcakes
3:15 – 3:45 p.m.
E-Center Conference Room