I have to begin by saying that this story was enjoyable for me to write. I learned a lot about my writing style, I learned new aspects about our education system and I improved my interviewing skills.
This story idea came to me in August when I was an intern writing for Deseret News. My days started by searching the internet for the trending news stories of the day and I came across a story about a recent episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” He pointed out “the embarrassing gaps” in the U.S. public education system with how history was taught regarding race. This got me thinking and I presented the idea to my editor and he liked it but said it was too controversial for our site. I then put the idea away until this class and thought that it was the perfect time to revisit this idea.
For my sources, I knew I wanted to talk to people who are a part of the system — teachers, school board members, students, parents, anyone I could find with a connection to the public education system. Thankfully with the help of some connections and some emails I found two high school U.S. history teachers, a former student of the Utah public education system and a parent with kids who attend public school, all of whom were willing to answer my questions.
My sources gave me all such good information to use and I wish I could’ve used it all. I learned how much there is to write about this topic and how it can be extended much further. Despite the plethora of information, I focused on the common themes that emerged from each interview and focused the article around those topics because those seemed to be important and what was cared about (not to say the other aspects aren’t important).
Throughout writing this story I learn a lot about my writing style and branched out of my comfort zone. When it comes to writing articles I tend to “report the news” using attributions and sources to write an informative piece. However, for this piece, I needed to rely on my interviews to tell a story, which was something new for me. After many drafts and rewriting things I finally found a piece that I believed flowed and told the story that I wanted to convey.
If given the opportunity in the future I would love to extend this piece and add more information from my interviews and conduct more research into the numbers surrounding the topic.
One thing that stuck with me from talking to AP U.S. history teacher Andrew Platt was the amount of work that teachers put into the education of students. There are many aspects that contribute to the lessons that are taught in the classroom. He said, “No, I do not think our students are receiving the education they deserve. Our schools are underfunded. Teachers are overburdened with responsibilities and classes that are too big. We do not have the support we need. We need smaller classes, but this involves hiring more teachers. We also need more funding for things like books and computers. Also, I strongly believe that history teachers need more education in history and less in pedagogy.”
Madison is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and came to the University of Utah for her love of skiing. She is a fourth-year communication major with an emphasis in journalism and minors in German, geography and documentary studies. Her passion for writing has always been a thing, yet, she didn’t know that she wanted to make it her career until she had spent a year studying cell and molecular biology and found out she had no idea what she was going to do with her degree. She has worked with Deseret News as an intern and plans to write with Her Campus Utah during the spring semester. Madison has a strong desire to travel and write about the world around her. After graduating in the spring of 2021, she plans on moving to London, England, to pursue a career in journalism aiming to work with Formula 1.