Reporting Education

Fall, 2000
Kim Pearson

Wed. 9:30-12:20, BL 145


This course is conceived as an introduction to one of the most important and least appreciated beats in the newsroom: The education beat. In particular, this course seeks to: We will begin with a focus on higher education, an aspect of education reporting that, historically, receives relatively little attention. (See  Is Alma Matter a Sacred Cow? After some consideration of higher education, we will look at K-12 schools. At various points throughout the semester, reporters from The Star-Ledger and The Times will visit the class.

You will write four stories. At least one of these will be for The Signal, and two will be for submission to unbound. As always, fact-checking materials must be submitted with unbound stories.

Required Texts

Jerry Lanson, Barbara Croll Fought News in a New Century : Reporting in an Age of Converging Media Pine Forge Press
Brant Houston Computer-Assisted Reporting St. Martins
Norm Goldstein Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual Associated Press

Recommended Reading 

Jonathan Kozol

Ordinary Resurrections


Terri Brooks Words Worth: A Handbook For Writing and Selling Non-Fiction St. Martins Press
Steve Weinberg The Reporter's   Handbook Bedford-St.Martins




  1. An e-mail address and access to a computer with Microsoft Office, Internet access and Real Audio
  2. If you are using the computer lab to complete assignments, you will need to have a set of earplugs that you can use to listen to assignments.
  3. All assignments must be completed in AP Style.

Major Assignments

Grading Criteria For Written Assignments

A Logic and facts are in order. Writing is clear, insightful, well documented, and interesting. No substantial spelling, grammar or mechanical errors. Presentations are delivered in the appropriate style and format, within the established time frame.

B Logic and facts are in order. The writing is clear and competent. Errors are minimal. Presentations are informative and well supported.

C The work is thoughtful and produced with care. Some errors.

D An effort has been made to meet the requirements of the assignment, but substantial work is needed.

F The requirements have not been addressed.


Schedule for Class Topics, Readings and Assignments

Date and notes

Topic, Speaker and Location


September 6
Introduction.  Read chapters 1,2, 9 and 12 of News in a New Century
Assignment for next class: Prepare proposals for three possible education-related beats. Possible themes: 
  • Teaching and Learning (curriculum, the science of learning, teaching and learning with technology, the debate over multicultural education, recruiting, hiring, evaluating and rewarding good teachers)
  • School Financing (property taxes, financial aid trends)
  • Privatizing Education (public, private or religous schools, Charter schools, vouchers,.)
  • Schools and society (the debate over moral education,

You will be assigned to a reporting team based upon your memo

History of Education:Enduring Issues Read History of Education article from the Microsoft Encarta. Browse "The History and Education and Childhood for a useful reference site for research stories related to education history. Assignment: write an 500- 750 - word feature on some aspect of education history that is related to your beat. For example, you might write about an important educator's ideas and impact, such as Crates, Thomas Dewey, Paolo Friere or Anna Julia Cooper. Or, you might look at a school, movement, or policy, such as the New York African Free School, home-schooling or corporal punishment. Due: September 20.
First story due.
Key issues in higher education: Redefining a Liberal Education
  The debate between the National Association of Scholars and Teachers for a Democratic Culture
Read: Contemporary Understandings of Liberal Education Academic capitalism in a public ivy for a perspective on the connections between economics, public policy and the classroom, and Roundtable:Master Teachers Share the Secrets of Their Success . click on Audio Transcript of "Full Roundtable" (105 minutes)
Presented at the Annual
 Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Il., April 28, 2000.
Access and affordability.   Read:
Trust in the Future: New Strategies for College Opportunity and Affordability in New Jersey;
Chaps. 3-6, News in a New Century.
Skim: NJ State College and University Sourcebook
The Diversity Debate Prepare for Community Learning Day Story by going through the Fostering a Community Ethic Against Racism website. On the student and faculty links section in particular, look for material for The Signal story you will be doing next week.
11 Community Learning Day: No Class.
  Attend that morning's showing of "The Color of Fear." Also, attend one other panel or presentation. The afternoon panel on curriculum transformation may be of particular interest.  Assignment: write an 800-word education-related story for The Signal. Due to me and your Signal editor, by e-mail, by 5 pm Sunday, October 15. Keep in mind the wisdom proferred in Roy Peter Clark's  How to Write a Good Story in 800 Words or Less
Introduction to K-12 education. Watch   "Children in American Schools" on reserve in the library media room  Read pages 29-46 of the "Learning the Trade Section of the Spring, 1999 issue of Neiman Reports. "Testing MEAP scores". Also, look at the Comprehensive School Reform website, for information about public school improvement projects in our region. In class, we'll brainstorm our own story ideas from each of our beats, based on the ideas presented in Lanson, p. 213 and the research you have done so far. These stories will be due Nov. 21, by e-mail.
Class discussion on status of CAR stories from 9:30 - 10:50. We will then repair to Kendall for a presentation on Privilege Systems by Peggy Mc Intosh and Victor Lewis.  Post your comments to the The Color of Fear Message. Begin reading Houston. Board.
  Election preview. Discuss national and local candidate's positions on the issues affecting your beat.  Before researching candidate's positions on the Net, read this caveat. Candidate sites on education:
 Election post-mortem. Bring the New York Times, The Times and the Star-Ledger to class. In addition, we will focus on spreadsheets  Read Houston on spreadsheets.
Remember: K-12 Data analysis story due 11/21.
 Discuss status of data stories.  
Thanksgiving Break; no class.
 Status of election stories  Continued reading of Houston. Wineberg is also helpful.