EWA2017: “Nation’s Education Reporters Confident They’re Making a Difference” Is the Job of an Education Reporter to Learn How to Write PR Instead of the Facts? Philanthropists, NGOs and EdReformers Hope So.
The Education Writers Association (EWA) is the invitation only event for writers covering education. The title of this article was taken from EWA’s website and the announcement of the EWA2017 recent seminar. Do you remember EWA2016?:
Richard Phelps writes in The Education Writers Association casts its narrowing gaze on Boston, May 1-3:
An organization claiming to represent and support all US education journalists sets up shop in Boston next week for its annual “National Seminar”. The Education Writers Association’s (EWA’s) national seminars introduce thousands of journalists to sources of information and expertise. Many sessions feature journalists talking with other journalists. Some sessions host teachers, students, or administrators in “reports from the front lines” type panel discussions. But, the remaining and most ballyhooed sessions feature non-journalist experts on education policy fronting panels with, typically, a journalist or two hosting. Allegedly, these sessions interpret “all the research”, and deliver truth, from the smartest, most enlightened on earth.
Given its central role, and the profession it represents, one would expect diligence from EWA in representing all sides and evidence. Indeed, EWA claims a central purpose “to help journalists get the story right.”
The ‘seminar’ for 2017 seems much like 2016. Here is the agenda and sponsors:
Here are a few of the sessions:
Parents were represented at this conference and writers were asked to glimpse into the hearts and minds of parents…but what type of parents’ hearts and minds were represented on the panel?
Has anyone heard of these parents in relation to pushing back against the current policies? Have they been involved in the Common Core/ESSA fight and are concerned about Federal overreach? Search their names in connection with CCSS/ESSA/data mining, etc:
- Bibb Hubbard is a founder of a group to support parents…and she also supports the standards (which is no surprise as she previously worked for Bill Gates Foundation).
- JoAnn McRay is the mother of an autistic son and is connected to Flamboyan Foundation, a group closely connected with the philanthropists (such as Bill Gates) leading this education reform.
- Mickey Bondo advocates on behalf of immigrant parents.
- There is little to no information on Goshorn and Shepard.
While these parents have interests in education, they don’t seem (based on internet searching) to represent the concern of many parents around the country about excessive testing, data mining, inadequate curriculum/content and the increasing emphasis of workforce training in the classroom. If any of these parents on this panel spoke to these issues, please contact us! We would love to know that these concerns were voiced to various education writers and they will be providing articles with those concerns.
If these trained EWA writers are presented with information from parents/educators about how this education reform is faulty and not representative of local communities’ values, how will those writers respond? How do they decide what education news is ‘real’ news and which is ‘fake’ news?
When parents are concerned about data privacy and hoping FERPA doesn’t allow the release/access of personal information, those parents might not want to rely on the writers who attended this session at the conference to write about their legitimate concerns:
Referring back to the first tweets in this article, it’s no wonder these writers need to use PR in writing about education. Parents upset about current ed reform don’t appear to have had their ‘hearts and minds’ represented at this conference and concerns about data privacy are not taken seriously. If education writers wrote about ed reform based on facts instead of talking points and theories given to them in conferences by the thought leaders who created the ed reform, it would be even more unpopular than it is now. Just remember Matt Gandal and his presentation on the necessity for PR to sell a product highly unpopular and unwanted by the taxpayers obligated to pay for it:
Now all these PR ed reform groups need are writers instructed in the ‘correct’ version of writing about ed reform. Who cares if it is fake and/or doesn’t increase academic excellence? It’s PR and it’s got to have the right spin (which it has not been able to accomplish) to sell it to taxpayers (you know, the group who pays for it). If current ed reform is so great, why is more than $800 million spent on PR trying to tell the taxpayers why they should love it?
The best tweet of the conference: $800 Million buys philanthropists a seat at the ed reform table: