The elephant in the room at 2018’s Capitol Hill Press Conference (CHPC) was without a doubt the issue regarding student safety. All four guest speakers at the event weighed in on a variety of different aspects relating to the problem.
“Who is specifically responsible for the safety of students?” asked a keen attendee, much to the agreement of her peers.
Colorado’s Commissioner of Education, Dr. Katy Anthes, was present to provide answers for a multitude of questions regarding state education issues. Afterwards, both Colorado’s State Education Committee Representatives Barbara McLachlan (D-Durango) and James Wilson (R-Salida) gave their two cents about the betterment of public policies. The two aimed to discuss legislation they have been involved with, but it was the will of the student journalists in the audience that swayed the discussion towards that of safety measures.
It was clear that safety for every individual in the school would be taking a front seat for much of the press conference duration in wake of the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.; an occurrence that sparked debate from the lips of many Americans during its aftermath.
When inevitably asked about who the responsibility of ensuring safety in schools fall to, Anthes firmly said: “It is the job of all levels to ensure that students are safe when they walk in their school’s main doors each and every morning. The federal government along with the local and state level governments all have different but equally important tasks.”
Editor Megan Schrader of the Denver Post weighed in on the reporting factor regarding the process of producing news on issues such as safety measures. Her tips included the steps of getting the facts (and checking them twice) along with how to incorporate information into an article without the risk of it taking away from the central idea. “How should one go about reporting on a controversial issue such as the Parkland shooting when it comes to gathering a multitude of diverse sources and ensuring accurate information?” student Jane Boyd of Castle View High School inquired.
Schrader responded insightfully, “Limit your topic’s scope at the beginning and always trust your instincts!” she told the crowd, each and every one of them racing their pens across their paper or clicking away on their laptops with a mutual sense of ambition. Schrader’s experience in high school journalism and current editorial position established a reassuring sense of credibility among the note takers.
Representative McLachlan was accompanied by Representative Wilson to conclude the Q&A in the afternoon, both of which spoke wisely of the conflict between freedom and safety, but had time to share some advice about journalism. “Make sure your personality is present in your writing, don’t try to write from the eyes of someone else,” Wilson said.
Many perspectives were observed today at the conference and the guest speakers were sure to address the contemporary issues we face today to a deep extent.