Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mayor's Smart Investment in Early Learning

by Sara Slaughter, Education Program Director

The McCormick Foundation applauds Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s August 3rd announcement of a three-year investment in early education that will allow about 5,000 more young children in Chicago to enroll in quality preschool. In a nod to research showing that children with access to quality early education have higher graduation rates and lower school drop-out rates, Mayor Emanuel’s decision demonstrates his commitment to education choices grounded in evidence. And, in a time when politicians are often accused of being short-sighted and thinking only of the next election, this decision defies that skepticism, looking out at least 10 years and acknowledging that Chicago will be a better place if we start children on a path that leads to better academic outcomes and increased civic engagement.

The McCormick Foundation is proud to have contributed to this effort with a grant supporting the development of the competitive process for quality preschool services for vulnerable children. Programs will be evaluated under the competitive process for quality as well as neighborhood need. Read the Mayor’s full press release.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A 'Teaching Hospital' Model to Journalism Education

by Clark Bell, Journalism Program Director

The McCormick Foundation is among the leading journalism funders calling for reform of journalism education.

In an Open Letter to University Presidents, the foundation leaders recommend a 'teaching hospital' model that blends professional practice with research and scholarship.

The release of this letter was timed to the annual meeting of the Association for Education and in Journalism and Mass Communication, which begins August 9 in Chicago.

Journalism and communications schools need to recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital role as news creators and innovators, a group of foundations said in an open letter to university presidents.

The foundations, all of which make grants to journalism education and innovation, urged more universities to adopt a model that blends practice with scholarship, with more top professionals in residence at universities and a focus on applied research.

"In this new digital age, we believe the 'teaching hospital' model offers great potential," as scholars help practitioners invent viable forms of digital news that communities need, said the letter, signed by top representatives of Knight Foundation, McCormick Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism FoundationScripps-Howard FoundationBrett Family Foundation, and Wyncotte Foundation.

The model was described in the 2011 "Carnegie Knight Initiative for the Future of Journalism Education" and is practiced at the Arizona State University, where student-powered News21 has become a major national news source. But it is by no means widespread.

The funders said they would support efforts by The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications to modernize standards, including the integration of technology and innovation into curricula, and would not support institutions that were unwilling to change.

"Simply put, universities must become forceful partners in revitalizing an industry at the very core of democracy," it said. "Schools that favor the status quo, and thus fall behind in the digital transition, risk becoming irrelevant to both private funders and, more importantly, the students they seek to serve.

Schools interested in the 'teaching hospital model' could start by reading the Carnegie Knight report and New America Foundation’s report on journalism schools becoming community content providersThe University of Missouri boasts the nation’s oldest journalism program, runs a community newspaper as well as commercial television and public radio stations where journalism students learn by doing. Other examples of student-produced journalism include Neon Tommy at USC, the Medill News Service from Northwestern University, Mission Loc@l by UC Berkeley students, reesenews at the University of North Carolina and the New York World by Columbia University students. Universities also may apply to participate in News21.  -- By Eric Newton, senior adviser to the President at Knight Foundation

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ben Bernanke: The Economics of Early Childhood

by Sara Slaughter, Education Program Director

As Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke knows he must choose his words carefully because his assessments of the economy, taxes and spending can move Wall Street and influence Capitol Hill. But what happens when he personalizes those numbers and discusses the economy in the context of our children and our education system? On July 24, he was invited to Ohio to address a different type of audience -- the Children’s Defense Fund Annual Conference. He again chose his words carefully, speaking about the crucial role of education in our "ever changing, globalized economy." He cited research demonstrating the need to start early in educating our children and preparing them – and our economy – for success. Undoubtedly, he speaks from personal and professional convictions: the son of a school teacher, he was a professor at Princeton University before becoming Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

The question is this: can the man whose words reverberate across Wall Street and Capitol Hill influence our opinions on education and its relationship to economic success?

WATCH Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke champion early childhood education at the Children's Defense Fund National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio (July 24, 2012).