CTA Announces 13 Winners of John Swett Awards Honoring Media Coverage of Education in California

BURLINGAME – Media stories last year ranging from coverage of landmark Bay Area strikes in New Haven, West Sonoma County and Oakland school districts to educators in Bakersfield fighting for their voices to be heard at Bakersfield City School District meetings to a Sacramento television station’s uplifting “Teacher of the Month” series are among the works honored by CTA’s 61st annual John Swett Awards for Media Excellence.

Thirteen winning entries in the prestigious CTA awards program were chosen recently by an independent panel of working and retired journalists and media professionals. The awards honor individuals, publications, websites and broadcast media for their outstanding achievements in reporting and interpreting public education issues during 2019.

“These skilled reporters all helped tell the story of educators fighting for the success of their students, no matter how tough the road may get. They bring to life the triumphs, show truth to the challenges, and highlight the grit our educators display on a daily basis. Their outstanding work is based on facts and integrity, and they clearly deserve to be honored with this special recognition.”

— CTA President E. Toby Boyd

There were 65 entries this year. Usually winners are invited to an in-person CTA reception, but this year we celebrated them at today’s virtual State Council of Education meeting and released this montage video in their honor.

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. Here are the 13 John Swett Award winning entries, with links to many of these outstanding works:


  • Dana Goldstein, The New York Times, for reporting on the high cost of living in the Bay Area and the impact this has for educators in their work, commuting and securing an affordable home. Read here.
  • Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, for reporting on the fight by educators and the community to pass landmark Proposition E, which speeds up affordable housing reserved for educators and other low-wage workers. This allows educators to have a short commute to work and be able to live in the community where they teach. Read here.
  • Bakersfield Californian for an editorial on educators fighting to keep their right to raise their voices at Bakersfield City School District meetings. Read here.
  • Joseph Geha, East Bay Times, for continuous coverage of the 14-day New Haven Unified strike. After a long and hard-fought struggle, it ended with a 4 percent raise over two years and a one-time bonus of 2.5 percent. Winning entries included this piece and this piece.
  • Barry Kaye, Mount Shasta News, for going above and beyond in getting the complete story on involuntary transfers for teachers in the Siskiyou Union High School District. Read more here.
  • Lloyd Alaban, The Milpitas Beat, for continuous coverage of a new school board censure law and a contested school board election for a seat on the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) Board of Trustees. He effectively told the story of a community divided. Read here.
  • Laura Hagar Rush, Sonoma West Times and News, for continuous coverage of the West Sonoma County strike, which led to a major victory for educators. She covered the strike in great detail, with the history of the issues leading up to the strike and its ultimate resolution. Winning entries included this piece and this piece.

Journals, Magazines, Special Publications and Websites

  • Zack Haber, Teen Vogue, for his coverage of the incredible support from students during the Oakland Education Association strike, showing the power of immense solidarity when educators and students come together. Read here.
  • Capital and Main in Los Angeles, for its high-quality series “Grading Charter Schools,” which examines the impacts from abrupt charter school closures, and the challenges and successes of charter schools across California.


  • Susie Steimle, CBS 5, San Francisco, for profiling a Bay Area educator who spends more than 90 minutes commuting to work because of the high cost of living. The story sheds light on high teacher turnover because of this all too common issue. Watch here.
  • Jennifer Gonzalez, NBC Bay Area, San Jose, for profiling a San Jose teacher to show the impact of high housing costs in the Bay Area, making it hard to afford on the current salary. Watch here.
  • Lyanne Melendez, ABC 7, San Francisco, for covering educators’ ongoing search for solutions to San Francisco’s escalating housing crisis. Watch here.
  • ABC 10 in Sacramento, for seven profiles of local inspiring teachers from the station’s popular, award-winning and ongoing “Teacher of the Month” series. Watch the seven winning profiles of Sacramento County-area educators honored during 2019: Luiz Coelho, Wendy Toffoletti, Rebecca Gillespie, Stephen Smith, Michele Silveira, Janine Jacinto, and Lisa Liss.
The 310,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3-million-member National Education Association.