Watchdogging K-12 education

  • Event: 2017 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Tawnell Hobbs of The Wall Street Journal; Eva Parks of KXAS/NBC5 Dallas-Fort Worth; Francisco Vara-Orta of IRE and NICAR
  • Date/Time: Friday, Jun. 23 at 9:00am
  • Location: Grand Canyon 1-3
  • Audio file: Only members can listen to conference audio

From watching the money to exposing security and safety concerns, three veteran reporters will talk about developing ideas and writing stories that parents and community members can’t ignore and public officials wish they could. We’ll talk about digging deep to tell better stories -- even on deadline -- and using local and national data to show disparities and wrongdoing with an eye for those pesky red flags. The discussion also will include ways to monitor school leadership and governance, areas that can help parents and voters make informed decisions at the polls. We’ll also review data that every education reporter should have on hand – and discuss how to fight that dreaded F-word, FERPA!

Speaker Bios

  • Tawnell D. Hobbs joined The Wall Street Journal in July 2016 as the national K-12 education reporter. Before that, she was an education reporter at The Dallas Morning News for 16 years and taught computer-assisted reporting at the university level. She has won numerous awards, and most recently was part of a team that won a 2016 National Headliner Award for education writing. Prior to journalism, she served in the United States Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard.

  • Eva Parks is the producer for the award-winning investigative team at KXAS-TV. Since 2012, exposed flaws in airport security, helped uncover mistreatment of wounded soldiers, institute change in police policy and expose security and safety concerns at schools in North Texas. Eva has been nationally recognized with multiple journalism awards including four National Edward R. Murrow awards, two national Society of Professional Journalist awards and a National Emmy. @NBCDFWEva 

  • Francisco Vara-Orta is a training director at the Investigative Reporters & Editors, Inc. He brings nearly 20 years of newsroom experience, published by a variety of news organizations, including Chalkbeat, Education Week, the San Antonio Express-News, Austin Business Journal, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He earned a master’s degree in investigative/data journalism at Mizzou & a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

Related Tipsheets