NSPA news conference
National Scholastic Press teams with FDA to help students cover COVID vaccine
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently OK’d use of the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12 years old. The number of students vaccinated before fall semesters begin in August and September could likely signal an “all clear” for classes and extracurricular activities in every school, every district and every U.S. state.
The National Scholastic Press Association and the FDA will host a virtual news conference for high school and middle school journalists to help students cover the vaccine and its use. The Tuesday, May 18 news conference is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. CT, 1:30 p.m. MT, 12:30 p.m. PT, 11:30 a.m. in Alaska and 10:30 a.m. in Hawai’i). It will be live-streamed over the FDA’s YouTube channel.
This is the link to register.
Here’s what you can do
Register, and attend the news conference, but unless there’s breaking news to write about from it, make the information you get the basis for a local story about the pandemic, the vaccine and your district’s or your school’s plans for the fall semester.
Before you attend the news conference, begin planning the story and preparing questions for FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, as well as for Dr. Peter Marks, the agency’s director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Also figure out what sources you’ll need locally to make this a better story. Certainly your school and/or district officials count for as local “expert” voices, which are always important for issue stories such as this. But also think about the potential stakeholders in the story. Whom will you interview? Parents and students, certainly, as well as local healthcare providers would help, whether they’re all in on getting and encouraging others to get the vaccine or whether they’re more reluctant to get it or to have their children get it.
In addition, do your research about the Pfizer vaccine and its efficacy and any side effects people have experienced. Make sure you’re using credible sources. If you’re uncertain about what a credible news source is, Mediabiasfactcheck.com is a great place to start. You’ll also want to go to the FDA website to read more about the people you’ll be interviewing, as well as about the government’s plans to help eradicate COVID-19, which has contributed to the deaths of nearly 600,000 Americans and 3.34 million people around the world over the past 17 months.
It’s possible the FDA commissioner could announce breaking news. If she does, certainly write about it as soon as you’re able to confirm it is news. You may also choose to assign one person to attend the conference just to create social media posts about what you learn. As with all social media, be careful to make sure you’re not repeating incorrect information or misunderstanding the speaker.
Southeast U.S. experiencing trouble getting fuel for cars after cyberattack
Let’s be clear. There’s plenty of gas in the U.S. for those of us who still drive vehicles that run on petroleum products. Unfortunately, because of a cyberattack on a pipeline that delivers fuel from refineries around the Gulf of Mexico to the Southeast U.S., drivers in those states have been having trouble fueling up.
Here’s what you can do
If you live in the Southeast, there’s the potential direct problem of getting to school, whether it’s by school bus or private car or car pool. Is your school and/or district preparing for this? But what about Memorial Day vacations and tourism, which is an especially large part of the economy in states such as Florida and others along the Atlantic Ocean? And, my goodness, how vulnerable to hacking are we all? Do you know any experts on cybersecurity who can answer students’ and parents’ questions about the safety of their personal information, whether it’s school records or passwords to shopping accounts such as Amazon.com?
Texas may ban (discussing) racism
Governor set to sign bill that would eliminate critical race theory
The Texas House of Representatives this week passed a bill along party lines that would eliminate the teaching of critical race theory in its schools. Social studies teachers would have to steer clear of a line of study that the American Bar Association describes as “not a diversity and inclusion ‘training’ but a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society.”
The reasoning behind Texas’ move is that conservatives consider Critical Race Theory to promote a misunderstanding of America’s history by focusing too much on the negative aspects of it, particularly racism.
In other words, it would be really difficult for social studies teachers to discuss the role that racism has played in our country, and it would likely ban curricula that has sprung from The New York Times’ “1619 Project.”
The bill’s sponsor said this about it: “Do you want our Texas kids to be taught that the system of government in the United States and Texas is nothing but a cover-up for white supremacy? Do you want them to be taught a souped-up version of Marxism?”
Here’s what you can do
If you live in Texas, the stories are obvious. Start following the bill as it moves from the House to the Senate, and then likely to the governor’s desk, where the governor’s signature will make it law for the 2021-22 school year. The focus questions are obvious: How will your school’s social studies teachers and their lessons be affected by the change? Why does the bill’s sponsor and others call CRT “a souped-up version of Marxism?”
But even if you live outside Texas but in the U.S., if your legislature has a Republican majority, it likely is already trying to pass a similar bill or is at least contemplating it. And if this is a good thing, why would state legislatures led by Democrats not also take up the causes? In the bigger picture, how do different states’ curricula affect how students do when they gather together at universities? In other words, if one student is from Texas and has not been exposed to CRT, while a student from Massachusetts has, will it make a difference?