Contact: Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324
BURLINGAME – Media stories ranging from how Los Angeles Unified payroll system woes bedeviled teachers to how urban violence affects San Francisco students to a Sacramento television station’s series on the student achievement gaps are among the works honored by the California Teachers Association’s 49th annual John Swett Awards for Media Excellence.
Twelve entries in the prestigious CTA awards contest were recently chosen by an independent panel of media professionals. The awards honor individuals, publications and television and radio stations for their outstanding achievements in reporting and interpreting public education issues during 2007.
“These journalists have shown how to tell the intricate story of public education with fair and accurate media coverage,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 340,000-member CTA. “These reporters provided outstanding coverage of our schools and students, as judged by their peers in the news profession. All of this year’s winners showed the kind of talent and insight that deserves special recognition.”
There were nearly 50 entries this year, all nominated by local teachers. The winners will receive their awards during a reception in their honor at the CTA State Council of Education meeting in Los Angeles on June 6. 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 12 John Swett Award winning entries:
- Seema Mehta, the Los Angeles Times, for her investigative news stories about the Santa Ana Unified School District creating false class rosters to qualify for state Class Size Reduction Program funding for elementary students. Several teachers and the Santa Ana Educators’ Association blew the whistle on the district for asking educators to falsify class rosters.
- Jill Tucker, the San Francisco Chronicle, for her revealing story on the effects of urban violence on San Francisco Unified School District students. Her reporting documented the fallout for schools when nearly one-third of children living in violent U.S. urban neighborhoods are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Nanette Asimov, the San Francisco Chronicle, for a series on University Preparatory Charter High School, a charter school in Oakland that falsified or changed students’ grades, or barred some low-scoring students from taking state exams to keep the school’s scores higher.
- Katy Murphy, the Oakland Tribune, for continuous coverage of education issues, including a look at the high costs of teacher turnover in Oakland Unified School District, and a story on a new Oakland teacher coping with challenges at his high school.
- Richard Irwin, the Rowland Heights Highlander paper based in West Covina, for continuous coverage of school issues, including a sensitive profile of the “Imagination Workshop” enrichment program for homeless students in the Rowland Unified School District.
- Robert Gammon, the East Bay Express in Emeryville, for a feature story titled “Eli’s Experiment” about how billionaire homebuilder Eli Broad wields his influence as an alleged education reformer in the Oakland Unified School District.
- Gary Walker, the Argonaut in Los Angeles, for a series of stories on the debacle last year concerning payroll processing mistakes made by the Los Angeles Unified School District that left countless teachers frustrated with being left unpaid, underpaid or overpaid.
- Ana Tintocalis, PBS Radio-San Diego, for continuous coverage of education, including a series of stories on the state’s “racial” student achievement gap. She attended a summit conference in Sacramento on the achievement gap and reported on the opinions of teachers, state officials and administrators about the problem.
- Penny Griego, KFWB News Radio in Los Angeles, for a series of stories on the Los Angeles Unified employee payroll snafu and how the massive school district’s new, $95 million payroll system caused widespread financial woes for employees.
- Karen Massie, Dana Howard and Tim Daly, News10 KXTV, Sacramento, an ABC affiliate, for continuous coverage of education issues that focused on the student achievement gap problem from many important perspectives.
- Lyanne Melendez, ABC 7 News (KGO-TV) in San Francisco, for a story on the innovative “Donors Choose” program that promotes donations for teachers and classrooms through its website of www.donorschoose.org.
- Robert Lyles, KPIX-TV, a CBS affiliate in San Francisco, for a news story about the 10-day strike by Hayward Unified School District teachers in April 2007 and how substitute teachers hired by the district were allowing students to watch “Sponge Bob” cartoons in class during the strike.