Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324
BURLINGAME – Media stories last year ranging from a television profile of a Fremont teacher whose efforts raised $80,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to articles on how the governor’s Proposition 30 would spare school districts from dire new cuts to safety and student suspension controversies at a San Francisco middle school are among the works honored by CTA’s 54th annual John Swett Awards for Media Excellence.
Nineteen winners 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 2012.
“This year’s winners share a common compassion and outstanding talent for telling the story of public education,” said Dean E. Vogel, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “These journalists captured the successes and challenges that teachers and students experience across the state. Their insights deserve this special recognition.”
There were 74 entries this year. The winners will receive their awards during a reception in their honor this 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 and a crusader for public education. This year’s awards come as CTA celebrates its 150th anniversary. The 19 John Swett Award winning entries are:
- Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, for continuous coverage in 2012 of the battle at City College of San Francisco over the college’s future and its ongoing accreditation crisis, looking at the impacts on students, faculty and administrators.
- Katy Murphy, Oakland Tribune, for an in-depth news story about the social repercussions from the decline of school-age children in West Oakland, causing school closures in recent years.
- Claudia Meléndez Salinas, Monterey County Herald, for continuous coverage of education issues. Stories included how a federal grant helped Monterey Peninsula Unified School District schools excel at academics, and the launch of special academies at Marina High School to inspire students about careers in the sciences or arts.
- Richard Bammer, Vacaville Reporter, for a series of columns last year that examined vital school issues in the Vacaville Unified School District and neighboring districts. Writing in a strong voice showing his compassion for public schools, his winning columns looked at the recent recession’s damage to local school budgets, the need to pass the governor’s Proposition 30 to halt more cuts, parental involvement in school reform, and how a local spelling bee showed the value of learning about the magic and origins of words (the bee contest words included ukulele, moccasin and ophthalmology).
- Heather Murtagh, San Mateo Daily Journal, for a series of articles about how pockets of elementary school enrollment growth are creating challenges for school districts in San Mateo County. She examined financial, facility, and student placement issues, plus future high school impacts.
- Shannon Barry, Milpitas Post, for continuous coverage of education news in the Milpitas Unified School District, including class overcrowding, an expansion of mental health resources for students, and a feature story about a second-grader who helped launch a community fundraising drive to help a 15-year-old Livermore boy meet medical costs from his cancer fight last year.
- Cosmo Garvin, Sacramento News and Review, for a news story about how two local school bonds totaling $414 million – Measures Q and R, eventually passed by voters in November – would go far toward making the estimated $1 billion in facility improvements and technology upgrades needed in the Sacramento City Unified School District. However, the bonds could not save teaching jobs.
- Dick Sparrer, Los Gatos Weekly-Times, for a humorous column recalling how, 20 years ago, his 10-year-old son Kevin announced one morning that he needed urgent help writing a speech – to be given that day in his race for president of his elementary school.
- Los Gatos Weekly-Times, which won as a publication for thorough and ongoing coverage of local education issues. Stories included articles on Los Gatos and Saratoga high school thespians winning awards at a state theater festival, a package of graduation stories on the Los Gatos High School Class of 2012, and a profile of the teacher of the year and classified employee of the year for the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District.
Journals, Magazines, Websites
- Anthony Cody, Education Week blogger, is a former Oakland Unified School District classroom teacher who won for his successful “Living in Dialogue” blog entries about the role and agenda for public education of the influential Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Getting responses from Foundation officials on key topics, Cody’s well-researched blog over several months covered ideas about how we measure teacher effectiveness, how are poverty and education reform related, what is the real purpose of K-12 education, and what role, if any, should the drive for profit play in our public schools.
- Trey Bundy, Bay Citizen in San Francisco, for a story about a high number of student suspensions and other issues at troubled Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School in San Francisco Unified. The article reported concerns by the United Educators of San Francisco union that key members of the school’s union building committee were targeted with poor evaluations and other discipline to silence dissent about unsafe conditions.
- Lisette Mejia, Mission Local, for a series about how $45 million from a federal School Improvement Grant helped six public schools in San Francisco’s Mission District neighborhood improve with targeted intervention reforms.
- Chelsi Moy, Mission Local, for a news story highlighting the bleak future for San Francisco’s Mission District neighborhood schools if the governor’s Proposition 30 tax hike for the wealthy had failed to pass in November.
- Lisa Schiff, Beyond Chron blog, for her insightful “School Beat” column on education issues from the perspective of a parent in San Francisco Unified. Winning entries covered federal Title 1 funding for low-income students, the governor’s Proposition 30, and lessons from the Chicago Teachers Union strike.
- Ana Tintocalis, KQED Public Radio, for a series of reports about the new transitional kindergarten program in California for an estimated 125,000 kids who are too old for preschool, but still too young for regular kindergarten. The series titled “Baby Steps: California’s Early Learning Challenge” included interviews with legislators, parents and teachers.
- Rose Aguilar, KALW Public Radio in San Francisco, for her work as host of her “Your Call” talk show, which often features Bay Area classroom educators giving real insights on what’s happening in public schools. Winning programs focused on supporting teachers as they coped with the impact of state cuts, discussions about the need to pass Prop. 30 last November to stop more school cuts, and about reforms like smaller class sizes that are working in our schools.
- Len Ramirez, KPIX-TV (CBS) in San Francisco, for a segment on lower-income East Palo Alto students attending a special “academy” at nearby Facebook headquarters.
- Lyanne Melendez, KGO-TV (ABC) in San Francisco, for a feature story about a dedicated teacher in the Fremont Unified School District, Claudine Dentoni, who coordinated a letter-writing contest campaign involving district students that netted $80,000 in donations from Macy’s to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- KXTV News 10 (ABC) in Sacramento, which won as a station for six profiles of local outstanding teachers from the station’s popular and ongoing “Teacher of the Month” series. One winning entry profiled music teacher Jeremy Hammond, who is striking a creative chord in his Sam Brannan Middle School students in Sacramento with the power and fun of playing instruments.
The 325,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.