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Hechinger Institute Hosts Editorial Writers Seminar

Twenty-seven editorial reporters from across the country and Canada came to New York in July to attend the Hechinger Institute's three-day Seminar on Education for Editorial Writers.

Participants in the conference represented a cross-section of editorial writers and opinion editors from both large and small publications. "We look for people who, as a result of going through this, will be able to make an impact," explained Gene Maeroff, Director of the Hechinger Institute. He continued, "We want people who have interest and dedication, whose supervisors are supportive, and whose writing in the past has shown that they are doing valuable work."

One writer, Maureen Downey of the Atlanta Constitution, is a two-time participant. Downey attended the first Hechinger Institute Seminar for Editorial Writers last fall. "Last time I came back with ideas for editorials, things I hadn't previously thought much about," Downey said. "It's great to spend two and a half days immersed in education. The experts are really impressive, the topic choices are good, and you've got a great audience-the other editorial writers are themselves a great factor."

Downey applied as a participant again this year because she felt the agenda was sufficiently different from the last seminar. "It's great to go into August with renewed ideas before school starts, and also because in Georgia we are in the throes of a gubernatorial campaign," Downey explained. "Everyone is talking about education."

The conference, which was organized in partnership with the National Conference of Editorial Writers (NCEW), presented the participants with a well-rounded agenda. Their first session on Friday, July 17, was held at the Media Studies Center and was hosted by John Merrow of National Public Radio's The Merrow Report. The session featured a panel discussion on "Emerging Issues in Higher Education" which was taped for broadcast on NPR. Other topics through the weekend included school finance, students who don't speak English, technology, educational practices, the role of teachers, schools as community centers and the impact of charter schools. "Like last year, we worked with a committee from NCEW to plan the seminar to include what they thought would be most useful," said Maeroff.

Future seminars include a September weekend on Making Sense of Conflicting Educational Claims, presented in partnership with the American Educational Research Association. In October the Institute will focus on Covering Higher Education in a Multiracial, Multicultural Society. A seminar for reporters new to the K-12 education beat will be held in December in partnership with the Education Writers Association.

In February, the Hechinger Institute takes its show on the road for the first time, holding a San Francisco-based seminar on Costs, Access and Politics of Higher Education in partnership with the Higher Education Policy Institute which is based in San Jose, California. The seminar will explore the reasons behind tuition charges, admissions selectivity, and state and federal policies that affect colleges and universities.

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