LEADING A BEAT
"…two well-placed LAUSD sources have told KPCC/LAist."
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OWNING BIG STORIES
"That night in the kitchen, Juan asked her: Mom, what if I don't go to school? 'My whole goal in that conversation,' he recalled, 'was to convince her to let me drop out.'
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed life for many young people. Many have lost the safe place that is school. Many have had to adapt to an all-new way of learning navigating loss and personal trauma. A K-12 beat reporter's job is to tell these personal stories — while also holding accountable the massive institutions that are responsible for these students' education.
"It was about 5 a.m. Tuesday morning and the deal was falling apart … To avoid a seventh day of the strike, the bargaining teams for LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles had to work fast. But they'd left the toughest issues for last, and an agreement on class-size reduction was eluding them — just as it had for almost two years of failed talks."
When Los Angeles teachers went on strike in January 2019, my stories — and Twitter feed — became must-reads for many engaged teachers, parents and decision-makers. I took lessons learned from covering the 2015 Seattle teachers strike for KPLU, and applied them in L.A.:
BUILDING AN AUDIENCE
"Almost as quickly as Georgie Stevens signed into her online ISTEP+ exam, the testing website kicked her out. 'It said, "Get off and get back on," there's something wrong with it,' the Bloomington fifth grader remembers. 'So I did.' Then the site booted her out again. And again."
When computer problems ground online testing to a halt in hundreds of Indiana schools on April 29 and April 30, 2013, I was the first to post a story that would soon be on front pages statewide. It was a galvanizing moment between StateImpact and its target audience of active parents and teachers. We worked every angle:
After studying last year's A-F rating data, a StateImpact analysis has identified 165 schools across the state … that saw higher final grades than they would have if [state officials] hadn't tweaked the formula roughly six weeks before releasing 2012's results.
—How Tony Bennett's Last-Minute A-F Changes Lifted 165 Indiana School Grades, Aug. 2013
Vaccination rates in California schools reached an all-time high last school year, but … a KPCC analysis of recently-released vaccination rate data shows … one subset of public schools still appears to be lagging behind: charter schools.
—Why are California charter schools' vaccination rates so much worse than district-run schools? Aug. 2017
The Associated Press's findings do shed fresh light on where to find racially homogenous schools across California. In fact, put the AP's data on a map, and it shows pockets of racially isolated schools spread south and east of downtown Los Angeles…
MORE OF MY WORK
Supporters of a sweeping plan to reduce K-12 class sizes in Washington public schools cheered its passage in November … Yet Initiative 1351 has landed with a thud in Olympia … and the budget Gov. Jay Inslee released Thursday only covers a portion of it.
Maria Ortiz's eighth graders are overthinking the problem. She can tell. She's pacing around the room, peering down at their algebra worksheets, recognizing how most of them are misunderstanding a core concept … Four years ago, Ortiz might've tried to correct them. Not today.
The move touched off a bizarre scene as Ritz and her staff filed out of the meeting room, the web stream of the meeting stopped and workers carted audiovisual equipment out of the room as frustrated State Board members kept their seats, remaining to discuss what to do next.