Contact: Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324
Media stories ranging from a look at homeless students in one San Francisco Bay Area school district making academic gains to an investigation of contaminated water in the Los Angeles Unified School District to a look at how the foreclosure crisis is uprooting public school students are among the works honored by the California Teachers Association’s 50th annual John Swett Awards for Media Excellence.
Sixteen entries in the prestigious CTA awards contest were chosen by an independent panel of media professionals. The awards honor individuals, publications, websites and television and radio stations for their outstanding achievements in reporting and interpreting public education issues during 2008.
“These winners have demonstrated their ability to capture the struggles and successes in our classrooms with candor and compassion,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 340,000-member CTA. “These journalists and editors helped tell the compelling story of public education in California. All of this year’s winners showed the kind of insight that deserves special recognition.”
There were 54 entries this year. The winners received their awards during a reception in their honor at the CTA State Council of Education meeting in Los Angeles on May 15. CTA also will take out a full-page advertisement in the July/August issue of Columbia Journalism Review magazine to list the winners and give them national recognition.
The award is named in honor of the founder of CTA, who was California’s fourth superintendent of public instruction. This year’s 16 John Swett Award winning entries:
- Nanette Asimov,the San Francisco Chronicle, for her investigative news story about the falsehoods in the resume of the Emery Unified School District superintendent, Stephen Wesley. He resigned soon after the story was published.
- Ruben Moreno, La Opinion newspaper, for a feature story about the long-delayed opening of the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which helped relieve overcrowding in the nearby Belmont High School.
- Jason Song, the Los Angeles Times, for a spot news story in March 2008 about the massive cuts and layoffs in the Rialto Unified School District.
- Kimberly Wetzel, the Contra Costa Times, for a sensitive feature story about the academic success of homeless students enrolled in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
- The Los Angeles Daily News won in the category of a series by a publication. Its investigative series looked at salaries in Los Angeles Unified and found what it called a “bloated bureaucracy” of highly paid administrators, while teachers earned comparatively modest salaries. The series was reported by Beth Barrett, George Sanchez and Justino Aguila, and was edited by Judi Erickson.
- J.M. Brown, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, for a news story about the tense relations between Scotts Valley Unified School District teachers and the superintendent, one year after teachers announced a vote of no confidence in the administrator.
- Mayra Flores De Marcotte, the Willow Glen Resident, a weekly in San Jose, won two John Swett Awards. The first was for continuous coverage of education issues, stories last year that ranged from a look at how San Jose Unified was expanding its bilingual immersion program to how the San Jose Teachers Association awarded $2,000 scholarships to three local high school students. She also won for her news story about an undocumented college student who is part of a movement to change laws so that education opportunities are not denied to undocumented immigrants who are brought into this country as children.
- Anne Gelhaus, the Willow Glen Resident, was honored for her news story about a high school graduate’s relentless search for scholarships and grants to pay for her tuition at UC-Santa Cruz.
Journals, Magazines, Websites
New America Media, based in San Francisco, won for coverage of education issues on its website: www.newamericamedia.org. The organization, which advocates for ethnic media in the U.S., won for stories and videos that included a look at anti-gay harassment in high schools and an Oakland high school for immigrants and refugees. Some entries were by Carolyn Ji Jong Goossen, the New America Media education editor, writer, and multimedia content producer.
- Ronn Owens,KGO Radio, San Francisco, for a lively one-hour talk show in March 2008 with CTA President David A. Sanchez that covered a range of education issues.
- Bruce Robinson, KRCB Public Radio in Rohnert Park, Sonoma County, for a feature story about the “Safe Schools Ambassador Program.” The program teaches kids how they can stand up to students who are mistreating each other.
- Lyanne Melendez, KGO-TV in San Francisco, an ABC affiliate, for continuous coverage of education issues. Her stories ranged from how the foreclosure crisis in Contra Costa County is uprooting students from classrooms to an examination of the costs of Bay Area school lunches.
- Elyse Miller, KESQ-TV in Palm Desert, an affiliate of ABC, was honored for a feature story about local schools going green. Her story showed energy-saving ideas in the Palm Springs Unified School District that included serving students cold foods one day a week to save on kitchen energy bills.
- KTVU, a Fox affiliate in Oakland, won as a station for its continuous coverage of education issues, with stories focusing on how state budget cuts last year impacted public schools.
- Joel Grover, KNBC Channel 4 in Burbank, won for a locally produced investigative story about water in Los Angeles Unified School District schools being contaminated with lead. The three-month investigation prompted testing and examination of school water fountains.