Post columnist to speak
Education writer featured guest


Jay Mathews, education reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, will be a special guest speaker at Elon April 10. He has worked in journalism as a local, national, foreign and business correspondent.

Mathews is the author of the newly released book "Harvard Schmarvard: Getting beyond the Ivy League to the College that is Best for You." Interestingly enough he is a Harvard graduate (he worked for the Harvard Crimson), and he has been an alumnus recruiter for Harvard for 20 years.

In the book, Mathews, one of the leading writers on the college search process, ranks Elon University #1 on a list of "100 outstanding (but underappreciated) colleges." He said the book is based on his 20 years of reporting as well as a survey of high school guidance counselors and teachers from across the nation. In it, the School of Communications is singled out as one of Elon's most outstanding features.

Mathews quotes Barbara Meyer, guidance content specialist at Medfield (Mass.) High School, as saying Elon has "as impressive a communications program as I have ever seen."

Mathews' maintains that students and parents should look beyond the big "brand name" schools. He suggests young people consider his list of 100 excellent schools that "deserve more attention than they are getting." In ranking Elon first on the list, Mathews quotes guidance counselors from Saudi Arabia, Massachusetts, Alabama and North Carolina.

Sally O'Rourke, a counselor at Andover (Mass.) High School is quoted as saying that students she sends to Elon thrive on its "emphasis on leadership, service, hands-on learning, and study abroad." Other counselors remarked on Elon's outstanding campus, commitment to students and forward-thinking leadership.

The cover of Mathews' book includes endorsements by former U.S. education secretaries William Bennett and Richard Riley, as well as Newsweek senior editor David Kaplan and James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly.

Mathews served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, then returned to Harvard to earn a master's degree in East Asian regional studies. He began at the Post as a local reporter in 1971. He became the Post's Hong Kong bureau chief in 1976. From 1981 to 1992, he served as Los Angeles bureau chief.

He won the National Education Reporting Award in 1984 for a series on job retraining for automobile workers. While in Los Angeles, he also wrote the books "Escalante: The Best Teacher in America" and "A Mother's Touch."

His book "Class Struggle: What's Wrong (and Right) with America's Best Public High Schools" was the first detailed book on the dynamics of elite public high schools. It ranked the nation's most challenging schools and revealed how many schools deny some students the chance to take the most demanding courses. The rating system he invented for high schools, the Challenge Index, is still used by Newsweek magazine, school districts and other news organizations.

Mathews' column "Class Struggle," appears each Tuesday on the Washington Post Web site. He won the 1999 Benjamin Fine Award for Outstanding Education Reporting. He lives in Bethesda, Md. On his visit to Elon, he will be the featured speaker at the annual Media Board banquet, and he will meet with students in the Society of Professional Journalists and staff members of The Pendulum.



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Last Modified:  3/18/03
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