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Panel Promotes Equity at Education Writers Conference

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Guest post by Jimmy Minichello, Communications and Marketing Director, AASA

Hundreds of education journalists from across the country along with communications officers representing national education groups gathered last week in Los Angeles for the 71st annual Education Writers Association national seminar, held on the campus of the University of Southern California.

The conference, “Room for All? Diversity in Education & the Media,” focused on a number of critical themes, including equity and newsroom diversity. The seminar provided reporters who primarily cover K-12 and higher education with a lengthy list of story ideas surrounding key issues that have a direct impact on students, schools and communities.

EWA Panel 2018
"Room for All? Diversity in Education & the Media" panel.

On the first day of the conference, one of the opening concurrent sessions featured Howard Fuller, professor of education, Marquette Univerity; Catherine Lhamon, chairwoman, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and, Pedro Noguera, professor of education, UCLA. The panel, titled, “The State of Educational Equity (and Inequity) in Schools,” was moderated by Steve Drummond, a national education reporter with NPR.

“We need to distinguish between equity and equality,” said Fuller, a former superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. “People who are oppressed need more than people who are not. If we’re going to talk about equity, give people who have less, more.”

“We live in an unequal society,” said Noguera. “We tend to look at education in a vacuum. We’re one of the few countries in the world that spends more money on wealthy children than poor children.”

Lhamon, who served as the keynote speaker at the annual Dr. Effie H. Jones Memorial Luncheon during AASA’s 2018 National Conference on Education, provided some food for thought for journalists attending the session. Reflecting on the articles she read on this topic, she said she enjoys “reading articles that clarify who the students are (and) how high level policy discussions translate to the perspective of the student. That’s most beneficial for any reader.”  

Lhamon added, “What you write is what we know. There is an incredible responsibility to get it right.”

About halfway through the session, the conversation shifted to school choice. Fuller responded by sharing “If you have money, you’ve got choice. People who suffer are low income, working class people. They were forced to stay in a school that didn’t work for them that’s it’s not working for their children.”

“Middle class affluent people always have choice,” added Noguera. “That to me is an important issue. We have deeply entrenched inequities in our system.” Nearly three years ago, Noguera served as a keynote speaker at the AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy Inaugural Conference, held in Alexandria, Va. Watch his video where he offered 10 points of advice to attendees.

“We have to make sure that all kids have access to quality public education,” said Lhamon. “Schools can transform opportunities and outcomes.”

There were other sessions throughout the conference focusing on equity including the opening plenary session featuring Shaun Harper, a provost professor at the USC Rossier School of Education and the Marshall School of Business.

The mission of the Education Writers Association is to strengthen the community of education writers and improve the quality of education coverage to better inform the public.

As the professional organization of members of the media who cover education at all levels, EWA has worked for more than 70 years to help journalists get the story right. Today, EWA has more than 3,000 members benefiting from its high-quality programs, training, information, support and recognition.

To join the conversation in equity via Twitter, access #Supts4Equity.

For more information, access www.ewa.org.



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