“Texas Schools: Racial Divisions”

Caitlin Perrone, Nick Swartsell, Kelli Ainsworth, Sara Fatima Dhanji, Beth Cortex-Neavel, Rebekah Skelton, Sarah Pressley, Kelsey Jukam, Eileen Tay, Bryce Bencivengo, Yvonne Marquez, Luke Winkie
The Dallas Morning News and Reporting Texas  
May 05, 2013 


The groundbreaking project documented disturbing trends in Texas’ public schools.

Thousands of schools are nearly as segregated as they were almost 60 years ago. Many black students are being sucked into a schools-to-prison pipeline. Magnet schools are safe havens for white students who are largely absent from other schools in mostly minority school districts. Financial disparities still plague mostly minority school districts. And thousands of students effectively self-segregate as they flock to charter schools.

“Texas Schools: Racial Divisions” was groundbreaking for another reason. It was produced by a dozen investigative reporting students at the University of Texas at Austin. The full project appeared on dallasnews.com and Reporting Texas, an online news publication at UT. A shorter was version printed in The Dallas Morning News.

News Publisher Jim Moroney and Editor Bob Mong arranged for veteran investigative reporter and editor Ed Timms to help teach the students. Timms worked closely with UT clinical professor Bill Minutaglio, an accomplished journalist and book author.

Together, Timms and Minutaglio created a “teaching hospital” environment. The students learned investigative journalism by reporting out stories that had to meet high standards to be published in a major newspaper and online sites. They analyzed data, conducted difficult interviews and conceptualized their stories. What they wrote was subjected to rigorous editing.

And what the students produced was remarkable.

Their six-part project was highly acclaimed by readers, educators and education experts. It provided legislators with a sobering primer on the problems facing public education in Texas at a critical juncture, as they debated whether to restore some of the school funding that had been cut two years earlier.

Several publications reprinted the project or referenced its findings.

We proudly offer the students’ work – and the innovative collaboration between the News and the UT School of Journalism that made it possible – for your consideration.

LINK to story online

Submitted by Bill Minutaglio.