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BEST OF THE WEEK!

Washington Post enterprise reporter Kyle Swenson headed to the small, conservative town of Vincent, Ohio, where a school superintendent must confront the unfolding reality that, in order to comply with the school board’s vote, he must implement a plan to train and arm teachers against a possible armed attack at the school. His story, ‘You understand that you might have to shoot a student?’, is our pick for the best of the week.
 
With the national concern over school gun violence as background, Swenson follows Superintendent Kyle Newton as he works through the process of figuring out which teachers to arm and train.

Each step brings new realizations. “You understand that you might have to shoot a student?” Newton asks each of the teachers who say they want to help. Once two of the selected teachers begin target practice, they confront the reality that if something were to happen, they, the armed staffers, would be held responsible. Other, more mundane changes would be required, too. "He needed to rethink how he hugged students so they wouldn’t feel the gun," one of the teachers realized.
 
The piece is our best of the week for tackling the controversial and complex debate about school safety in the wake of mass shootings, and for doing so in a narrative format that pulls the reader in and keeps them reading.

ICYMI: Last week's best was APM Report's new audio documentary, At a Loss for Words

HONORABLE MENTIONS

🏆 NYT: When Active-Shooter Drills Scare the Children They Hope to Protect

🏆 US News and World Report: School District Secessions Accelerate School Segregation

🏆 WSJ: Schools Pushed for Tech in Every Classroom. Now Parents Are Pushing Back

🏆 Chalkbeat/The City: A Reading ‘Crisis’: Why Some Parents Created a School for Dyslexic Kids

🏆 New Haven Independent: 2 Segregated Schools, 2 Reactions

Missed some previous editions? You can see the archive of past newsletters here

JENNY ABAMU, THE EXIT INTERVIEW

For this week’s column, former WAMU education reporter Jenny Abamu (above) gave a frank exit interview about why she left journalism — and ways to fix education news.
 
"Don’t just do stuff, do news. The internet doesn’t need more stuff. There’s enough stuff,” Abamu told contributor Kristen Doerer. “We need news, news that people remember."
 
“This interview is amazing. I wish I'd had a fraction of @JennyAbamu 's smarts & bravery as an early-career education journalist,” former EWA public editor Linda Perlstein tweeted.
 
“⁦@JennyAbamu⁩ dropping the mic,” the New York Times’ Erica Green tweeted, highlighting one of Abamu’s most memorable quotes: “Every time that someone is doing a story that doesn’t matter, there are stories that do matter that don’t get done."
 
ICYMI: Here's a Q & A with Robert Pondiscio, the former journalist and teacher whose new book about a year inside a controversial New York City charter school is coming out in a few days.

MEDIA TIDBITS

📰 AN “OFF” YEAR FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL PACKAGES: They don’t generally post first day of school photos, but education reporters and editors are also experiencing the back-to-school transition along with the schools they cover. Some, like NBC5’s Bigad Shabad, started the year with a scathing exposé of an East Bay school where educators may be changing grades to inflate grad rates (above). Others, like New York Times NYC education reporter Eliza Shapiro, timed their first stories to focus attention on a key controversy (the 4th grade test for gifted and talented). But I haven’t seen the same kinds of big packages that we’ve seen in the past — remember last year’s deluge? Perhaps we’ll get more this weekend. 
 
📰 MISLEADING COVERAGE OF GIFTED & TALENTED IN NYC? A panel of experts recently proposed phasing out New York City’s gifted and talented program, and the city has pledged to spend a year discussing the proposal before making any changes. But you might not know that from reading news headlines. PDK’s Josh Starr described it as “disheartening” that headlines from the New York Times and others have published headlines characterizing the proposal as “eliminating” or “scrapping” the program. Curious what Metro journalists Dodai Stewart and Eliza Shapiro — or anyone else — have to say about this.

📰 PAYING ATTENTION TO PROVIDENCE: Hired last spring from Providence-based television station WPRI, the Boston Globe’s Providence reporter Dan McGowan hosts a lively Facebook page (no swearing allowed), produces lots of good coverage of what’s going on in the controversy around Providence schools (see summary here), and publishes a daily newsletter. "It’s too soon to say what will come next, except that it’s clear the takeover is moving forward," he writes in the September 5 newsletter. A previous edition reveals which national education organization sponsored a recent poll about the possible takeover of Providence schools. His background as a political reporter and his deep knowledge of the area are obvious strengths.
 
📰 POLL DATA STRENGTHENS STORIES: Education reporters who use survey data in their stories are generally doing a great job, Gallup’s Stephanie Marken told me the other day, citing trade publications like Inside Higher Ed and Education Dive and general reader outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times. Their use of survey data is “respectful of our results.” But, according to the head of education research, reporters could use survey data much more often than they do, which should be a familiar refrain. Gallup has a New Schools Venture Fund event coming up on the 12th and another education-related study coming out next month. There’s also a handy-dandy Twitter account, a newsletter, a trends page, and education-focused website and — if you ask nicely — an email list for education reporters. 
 
📰 EDUCATOR BYLINES IN THE NEW YORKER: Over the last 20 years, none of the 17 New Yorker articles that have run under the banner of Annals of Education has been penned by an educator, according to a guest column in the Washington Post — compared to nearly two-thirds of the articles run under the Annals of Medicine written by doctors — representing “a much bigger issue having to do with the place of education in our society,” writes Rose. New Yorker editor David Remnick emailed that there is no special “guardrail” against educator-written articles. “We publish a lot on politics, but not by practicing politicians; many things on sports, but not by professional athletes.”

The Grade takes a closer look at education journalism through weekly columns and newsletters and via Twitter and Facebook

PEOPLE, JOBS, & AWARDS

Above: Samantha Hernandez, Beenish Ahmed, Benjamin Herold, and Casey Parks began their Columbia Journalism School’s Spencer Education Journalism Fellowships this week. Check it all out: Spencer fellows.
 
🔥 Seven months ago, Lily Altavena of the Arizona Republic and Mariana Dale of KJZZ Phoenix, Arizona’s NPR station, started studying nearly a decade’s worth of sexual misconduct claims against teachers. “We found a system where bad actors can slip by and stay in the classroom for years,” Altavena tweeted. “I hope you’ll read ‘A position of trust’.”
 
🔥 Emma Kate Fittes has joined Chalkbeat Indiana, where she is covering statewide education issues and policy. Check out one of her first stories, Indiana 2019 test scores drop, hitting new low in first year of ILEARN. Meanwhile, Ben Wermund has left Politico’s education team to become the Houston Chronicle’s Washington correspondent. As noted in last week’s newsletter, Politico’s education team also lost Kim Hefling to consulting company GMMB last week.
 
🔥 Curious about who writes education stories for the AP these days? What I’ve been able to glean is as follows: Carole Feldman is the lead editor. Mike Melia in Hartford is the No. 2. Collin Binkley in Boston is described as the lead writer. Others who write about education some or all of the time include Jeff Amy in Atlanta, Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, Sally Ho in Seattle. Now you know.
 
🔥 The Desert Sun/desertsun.com, part of the USA TODAY network, is looking for a reporter to cover education, youth and childhood issues in California’s Coachella Valley. Chalkbeat Detroit is hiring a reporter. FiveThirtyEight is hiring a race and politics reporter. WGBH Boston is seeking production assistant who will cover K-12 education locally, replacing Molly Boigon. The job left open by the departure of WAMU’s Abamu is listed here. There’s a new education job for anyone interested at Bloomberg News. It’s not yet clear whether KPCC is going to replace Priska Neely, who left for Reveal a couple of weeks ago, or whether the Boston Globe is still looking for a reporter to join editor Sarah Carr
 
🔥 Check out interviews with the Hechinger Report’s Jennifer Shaw and Education Dive’s Linda Jacobson. Read more about Education Dive here.

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EVENTS, DEADLINES, & ANNOUNCEMENTS

So much is going on, all at the same time. Let us help you keep track of the important stuff:

⏰ Journalists from around the country are gathered in San Antonio for the 2019 Excellence in Journalism Conference September 5-7. KPCC education editor Tony Marcano is there. USA Today’s Chris Quintana is too. Also spotted in San Antonio (on Twitter): KAKE’s Pilar Pedraza, former edwriters Francisco Vara-Orta and Jenny Medina Anyone else? Here’s the schedule of events.
 
School Colors, a documentary podcast series “about race, class, and power in American cities - told through the story of one public school district in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn,” launches September 20. It’s produced and hosted by Mark Winston Griffith and Max Freedman.
 
⏰ Education journalist Natalie Wexler was on All Of It WNYC to discuss her book, The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System--and How to Fix It. She’s also working on a guest column for The Grade about improving coverage of how schools teach content.
 
⏰ Do you have less than two years experience on the education beat? EWA is hosting another class of New to the Beat. EWA will pair you up with a skilled mentor who is an experienced education journalist and will kick things off with a free, two-day workshop October 27-28 near Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. The deadline to apply is Thursday, September 26.
 
⏰ The Nashville, Tennessee, Public Radio station WPLN is hiring a talented journalist from an underrepresented background for its yearlong Emerging Voices Fellowship, which pays $40,000. Apply by September 22. Meanwhile, The Fund for Investigative Journalism, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Miami Herald Media Company announced a $30,000 fellowship project that seeks to expand investigative reporting opportunities for diverse journalists. Apply by October 7.
THE KICKER

“My 8yo asked me to pack him a lunch on the first day of school that would make his friends jealous,” tweeted Chalkbeat’s Carrie Melago. “So he's getting a Snickers bar, a small drone, and fireworks.”

That's all, folks. Thanks for reading!

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