Winner 2010

Bitter Lessons


In the best tradition of local television news, WFAA-TV in Dallas identified a local instance of a national issue, probed the examples in the immediate community, and then took its findings back up a bureaucratic chain to challenge an agency whose negligence may have contributed to the problems. For-profit that promise to provide necessary skills and job placements have become common. The schools profit, but not the majority of those students enrolled. Becoming a student establishes eligibility for student loans and funding for the schools. But WFAA confirmed that relatively few students are placed in the promised positions and that some schools simply added names to their rosters in order to qualify for funding. If numbers dropped, recruiters went into homeless shelters and pulled in hopeful enrollees. In a major step, WFAA took matters to the Texas state education regulators who had allowed the egregious practices to continue. They discovered inadequate oversight and careless record keeping. Now, one group of for-profit schools has been fined and regulations have been forced to become stricter, in part as a result of these investigations. For precise analysis and reporting on an issue that continues in communities across the nation, a Peabody Award is presented to Bitter Lessons.


Executive news director: Michael Valentine. Investigative producer: Mark Smith. Reporter: Byron Harris. Editor: Billy Bryant. Photographer: Billy Bryant.