About Covering Education

Covering Education is a seminar taught in the spring semester at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. It weaves together history with current issues and reporting strategies, while navigating past the bureaucratic catacombs of public education in America, burrowing into real classrooms with the kids. Besides time reporting and learning in seminar, students spend the semester inside one New York City public school, building unique relationships with kids, teachers, administrators.

Education is a primary beat in every American news outlet from the small town paper to the metropolitan news conglomerate. One reason is that readers care deeply about their schools’ academic quality, safety, cultural richness, fiscal health, and the taxes they pay to support education. Another reason is that public education plays a crucial role in civic life. Schools are expected not only to educate individual students, but to develop an engaged citizenry, mend racial inequities and level the economic playing field for every child in America.

The education beat demands sophisticated coverage of culture, race, child development, pedagogy, politics and data analysis. Students should emerge from the course with hands-on knowledge about how schools run, and the foundation to make sense of the ever complex education landscape, and the tools to write about it with clarity.

The course is taught by Professor LynNell Hancock