Contact: Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324 or 408-921-5769 (cell).
BURLINGAME – Media stories ranging from a look at one man’s crusade to donate free school supplies to 150,000 needy Bay Area students to reports last year of how charter schools in Monterey and Chico segregated some students to coverage about the fallout from pink slips issued for thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District educators are among the works honored by the California Teachers Association’s 52nd annual John Swett Awards for Media Excellence.
Nineteen entries in the prestigious CTA awards contest were chosen by an independent panel of media professionals. The awards honor individuals, publications, websites, television and radio stations for their outstanding achievements in reporting and interpreting public education issues during 2010.
“These winners have documented with great skill and compassion the challenges and victories teachers witness in our classrooms every day,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 325,000-member CTA. “These journalists helped tell the compelling story of public education in California and how state cuts are hurting our schools and students. Their insights in the media deserve special recognition.”
There were 80 entries this year. The winners will receive their awards during a reception in their honor Friday night at the CTA State Council of Education meeting in Los Angeles. 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 19 John Swett Award winning entries are:
· Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, for her feature story looking at the harsh realities and costs faced by three UC Berkeley students she profiled: one middle class, another lower-income, and the third an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who told of how a lot of his food comes from food banks because he is not eligible for grants.
· Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, for continuous coverage of Bay Area education issues, for stories about how massive state budget cuts are hurting schools, and other topics such as school funding inequities and parents fundraising to save school programs.
· Sandy Banks, Los Angeles Times, for her feature column interview with a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher who retired after 45 years and repudiated her negative ranking given by a controversial system devised by the Los Angeles Times to rank educators in the district. The column included quotes from some of the teacher’s many letters from past students who said she made a huge difference in their lives.
· Connie Llanos, Los Angeles Daily News, for her series of stories last year about the upheavals caused by nearly 5,000 pink slips issued for Los Angeles Unified School District educators.
· Hannah Dreier, Contra Costa Times, for her profile of a UC Berkeley graduate’s co-founding of the nonprofit “K to College” program that partnered with dozens of Bay Area school districts to pass out 150,000 free bags of school supplies to lower-income students.
· Claudia Melendez Salinas, Monterey County Herald, for continuous coverage of local education issues, including examining a study about charter schools being more segregated than traditional public schools, and how Latinos were underrepresented in Monterey County charters.
· Margaret Lavin, San Mateo County Times, for her popular weekly column titled “Elementary, My Dears” that focused on such topics as making school lunchroom menus more healthy and how state cuts were hurting the Redwood City School District where she teaches.
· Neil Gonzales, San Mateo County Times, for a feature story about the state’s Academic Performance Index scores for San Mateo County schools and how per-pupil funding is tied to resources and achievement.
· Rob Rogers, Marin Independent Journal, for his news story analyzing the salaries of Marin County school superintendents and whether large pay hikes were appropriate in dire times of program cuts and teacher layoffs.
· Chris Vongsarath, Campbell Reporter, for continuous coverage of local education issues, including a look at new approaches to teaching autistic students, and how some local middle school students were doing outstanding community service projects after school.
· Dick Sparrer, Los Gatos Weekly-Times, for a humorous column recalling how he accidentally scuttled his son’s science project long ago by taking a bite out of an apple in the kitchen that was part of the project. The column was headlined, “No science fair for my son – it seems I ate his science project.”
· Leslie Layton, Chico News and Review, for her news feature story about local charter schools creating an educational divide, and about how English language learners were underrepresented at all but one of 10 Chico charter schools last year.
· The Saratoga News won as a publication for capturing the variety of local events and student voices in local schools on a consistent basis. One winning entry was a special section profiling the accomplishments of the high-achieving Saratoga High School Class of 2010.
Journals, Magazines, Websites
· Kristina Rizga, Mother Jones magazine, was embedded at Mission High School in San Francisco and won for her series of sensitive stories about struggles and triumphs behind the scenes at this large urban campus.
· Anthony Cody, Education Week blogger, is a former Oakland Unified School District classroom teacher who won for his successful entries about vital school issues and protests over funding cuts from his lively blog titled “Living In Dialogue”. He now helps mentor novice science teachers in Oakland Unified.
· Louis Freedberg, California Watch, for continuous coverage of education issues at this insightful, investigative online news operation at www.californiawatch.org. His winning entries included articles on the state budget crisis last year causing shorter school years at many districts, and a look at the implications of soaring class sizes.
· John North, KCLU Radio, Thousand Oaks, for a locally produced news story titled “K-12: On the Edge” that looked at the impacts of last year’s education cuts and included interviews with teachers. The station is based at California Lutheran University.
· Maria Leticia Gomez, KDTV, the Univision affiliate in San Francisco, won for her news feature segment about education cuts and how Hispanic families are pushing back to protect public schools.
· KTVU, a Fox affiliate in Oakland, won as a station for its dynamic team coverage of the statewide March 4 Day of Action last year to protest California education cuts.
The 325,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.