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Named after the founder of CTA and the state’s fourth superintendent of public instruction, the John Swett Awards for Media Excellence are CTA’s highest honor for media professionals for outstanding coverage of education.

John Swett founded CTA in 1863 and elevated the teaching profession as he served as California’s fourth superintendent of public instruction. For the first time, public schools became free for all to attend during his four year term. He raised the bar, and this contest bears his name because all entries must show the kind of commitment to professionalism he gave during his life of advocacy for all educators and students.

Background & Goals

The John Swett Awards  honors CTA’s 15 decades of advocacy for our schools, students and teachers. Newspaper, radio and television editors, reporters, producers, directors and bloggers are all encouraged to enter.

The awards celebrate outstanding coverage of community and campaign issues that touched California’s schools, community colleges and state universities during the year. Thanks to CTA members interacting with the media, vital school issues make it from the classroom to the newsroom, allowing the public and its elected representatives to make informed decisions about quality education and its future. This unique competition requires local chapters of CTA to nominate works by media professionals for the contest.

Judging is done by media peers — CTA removes itself entirely from the judging process. More details are included in this brochure.

Winners are awarded plaques at a special Los Angeles reception in their honor. A statewide CTA news release and advertisement listing the winners in the Columbia Journalism Review give further credit where it’s definitely due. Meritorious nominees whose work was not judged the most outstanding in their categories receive Certificates of Merit.

The Nomination Process

Nominations may be made by any CTA chapter president (local affiliate) or Service Center Council chairperson. Media representatives cannot nominate themselves or their colleagues. They are, however, encouraged to make inquiries about the possibility of nominations — either by contacting local CTA chapters or Christina Barbieri at 650-552-5316 or email at

Local CTA chapters are urged to monitor the media in their areas, to collect samples of good journalism or make note of unusually good or thorough coverage, and to recommend that their local presidents complete and forward nomination forms.

All entries and exhibits will be obtained from nominees by the local nominating CTA chapter and forwarded to the CTA Communications Department with the nomination form online.

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