ICYMI: School shootings, ineffective fellowships, & all the best education journalism of the week

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Kudos to The Trace for covering the recent spate of school shootings without hyping the numbers: America Has Had Three School Shootings in Two Days.

Thanks also to EWA’s Emily Richmond for sharing some expert advice about the ins and outs of covering school shootings, and to The 74 editor Steve Snyder for acknowledging his own delayed response to the story: “Three schools, two days, 19 casualties, two dead,” wrote Snyder. “We’re barely moved to tweet.”

Next week’s column is going to focus on the debate over how best to cover school shootings — and how to count them accurately and clearly. What do you think qualifies as a school shooting?


🏆 The74: At least 11 districts and 9 schools across 12 states have closed due to flu epidemic. https://t.co/zHrufRiktJ [See also Newsweek]

🏆 Ledger-Enquirer: MA Gov. seeks $15M for schools educating hurricane victims https://t.co/Ux2AlhEBZf

🏆 WLRN: When A Hurricane Closes Schools, No Work Means No Pay For Thousands of Hourly Workers.https://t.co/Zh67yAqICv

🏆 Washington Post: D.C. invalidates science exam scores after discovering errors https://t.co/Ms82F4rirc

🏆 Baltimore Sun: Former Maryland schools superintendent indicted on four counts of perjury http://ow.ly/Qfwo30i1pvu

🏆 Mother Jones: The GOP’s biggest charter school experiment just imploded https://t.co/wJC6ViwB5h [See also EdWeek]

🏆 Chalkbeat: When Indiana kids leave a public school district… https://t.co/re7PJXobRV [Just 55 percent of school-age kids who live in Indianapolis go to district schools.]

🏆 ChalkbeatNY: The NYC ed department set this year’s performance goals for some struggling Renewal schools *below* what they already achieved last year https://t.co/Gp69KMyQEd

🏆 The 74: With Churn at the Nation’s 3 Largest School Districts, Experts Agree: A Good Superintendent is Hard to Find http://nzzl.us/8ybLSaE

🏆 Fast Company: AltSchool Has Been Quietly Testing Its Platform In Public Schools https://t.co/orLWXgGG9C

🏆 WSJ: Most New York teachers return to classrooms despite infractions, report says https://t.co/x5yXUdOuMr

🏆 Voice of San Diego: San Diego Unified’s Mysterious Budget Thermometer, Explained https://t.co/0Hoa0pXmhj


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New from The Grade: Now 10 years old, the much-loved Spencer education journalism fellowship — which I participated in during 2008-2009 — seems increasingly exclusive and ineffective.

The projects it has supported have generally been admirable. But it costs roughly $200,000 per person. Just 34 percent of its 32 participants over the last decade are in a mainstream newsroom — including two international fellows and one alumna who’s about to leave her newsroom spot. All but 7 of the participants so far have been white. Meanwhile, there are so many other things that could be done to support education journalism.

The best response to the column so far (from current Spencer fellow Cara Fitzpatrick) begins: “I think I know who won’t be invited to [the annual Spencer] brunch next year.”


⏰ Applications for the Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship are due February 1 It’s not that hard to get. You can do it. Just be prepared not to be done with your project when the fellowship ends. http://ow.ly/4ZTl30i1jOY

⏰ The deadline for the Ida B. Wells Fellowship is February 15 http://nzzl.us/yAouAV7

⏰ EWA’s next big event is a February 15-16 New Orleans mini-conference on student character and citizenship. I’m going to be there. How about you?

⏰ The 2018 Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference — still one of my favorite events of the year — is April 5-6 https://t.co/ntcDE3V4cc.

⏰ The Reagan Foundation’s first-ever national education summit is April 11-12 in DC, hosted by Lamar Alexander and featuring all sorts of education secretaries and members of Congress.


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🔥 Have fun reading this Columbia Journalism Review account by Arizona Star reporter Hank Stephenson, still relatively new to the education beat, who found out about a much-rumored “do not hire” list in Tucson public schools by staying at a board meeting longer than everyone else.

🔥 Big congrats to Alex Granados (@agranadoster) of @EducationNC, who’s been awarded the new EdWeek Chronister award.

🔥 Big congrats to Jaeah Lee and Valeria Fernandez (@jaeahjlee & @valfernandez) for being awarded the new American Mosaic Journalism Prize for reporting on the struggles of U.S. immigrants “and others the prize founders say are underrepresented or misrepresented.”

🔥 Peter Balonon-Rosen — formerly at WBUR Boston and Indiana Public Radio — has now popped up at Marketplace, where he’s got a new story about high school kids taking college courses.

🔥 Kudos to MinnPost’s Greta Kaul for following up on that Vox story on the segregationist impact of school attendance zones from a couple of weeks ago https://t.co/xzNB9rikwH

🔥 Veteran Seattle Times education editor Linda Shaw has announced that she is leaving that spot and moving to a new job with the nonprofit that has been the Seattle Times’ partner called the Solutions Journalism Network. “I’ll be working with newsrooms up and down the West Coast, helping them do compelling, rigorous reporting on how people are addressing social problems in their communities. Big change, but good change,” Shaw wrote on Facebook.

🔥 Of course, that means there’s a great job opening at the Seattle Times http://ow.ly/32SL30hT0dv 

🔥 The Salt Lake Tribune is hiring an education reporter with at least two years experience https://t.co/RVm1YJgb8c


📰 Congrats and/or condolences to the education reporters at the LA Times, where the newsroom voted to unionize. Read all about it in In These Times and HuffPost.

📰 NPR released its 2017 newsroom diversity numbers, and as Sam Sanders noted: “It’s not getting better.” The NPR newsroom is stuck at 75 percent white. (As of last spring’s newsroom roundup, the education team was 80 percent white.)

📰 Missing the IRE-sponsored “Local Matters” newsletter, “a round-up of the best in local watchdog journalism”? You’re missing a lot. Subscribe here. Archive here.

📰 Thanks to Voice of San Diego’s @MarioKoran for including me in his story about reporters struggling to gain access to schools.

📰 In response to this Colorado Public Radio story, Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum asks, “what is the ratio of new stories hyping teacher housing programs to teachers actually helped by these programs?”

📰 I want to be excited about Chalkbeat’s Great American Teach-Off, which is tied to SXSW EDU, but instead, I’m feeling conflicted.

📰 “This is a great story,” says EdWeek’s Maddy Will about a recent piece in the Washington Post. “High school journalists report that a teacher has been fired for misconduct. The administrators censor the article, but the students fight back.” Will also has a good story about male Latino teachers this week.

📰 Three years ago this week, I wrote about a botched Atlantic education story about NYC’s system of public colleges and universities — one of my most uncomfortable experiences as a journalist.


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Edweek’s Evie Blad found a witty way to link recent goings-on in Congress and the classroom: Social-Emotional Learning for Senators: This Elementary School Exercise Helped End the Shutdown.

That’s all, folks. Have a great weekend. Send any comments and suggestions to thegrade2015@gmail.com.

You can read all the back issues of The Grade’s newsletter, Best of the Week, here. Don’t forget to sign up while you’re there!

ALEXANDER RUSSO (@alexanderrusso) is editor of The Grade.

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