Sep 25, 2018
Dallas Morning News reporter Lauren McGaughy covered public schools for six years before taking on the state government beat, so she was in familiar territory when asked to cover a state Board of Education meeting. What McGaughy wasn’t expecting was for that story about the state’s revised social studies standards -- which no longer mention Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton, among others -- to go viral. A volunteer committee, made up primarily of educators, was responsible for creating a rubric to rank the historical significance of individuals and events, and to streamline the existing curriculum. Her reporting provides a fascinating window into how instructional standards are decided in one of the most populous states.. How do the revised standards reflect the educational, political, and religious priorities of state policymakers? What surprising changes are coming to how the Civil War is taught? And what can other reporters learn from McGaughy’s approach to data mining, explanatory reporting, and exploring the often-overlooked influence of local and state school boards?