U.S. Department of Education official visits for mock press conference and Q&A


Caption Photo by Ana Perez
Photo by Ana Perez

Former reporter and now U.S. Department of Education official Massie Ritsch toured Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) on Monday. Ritsch also held a mock press conference with advanced journalism students and an intimate Q&A with the newspaper staff during his visit.

Student ambassadors Michella Mousaed and Yvonne Gonzalez gave Ritsch, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Dr. John Deasy, Instructional Director Dr. Margaret Kim and Director of Media and Communications Thomas Waldman a tour of the school.

Following the tour was the mock press conference in the multi-purpose room (MPR), where Ritsch answered questions from students that varied from teacher effectiveness to the transition to Common Core State Standards. Some students were inquiring about how Common Core can be adapted to a curriculum for a special needs student or a student who has learning disabilities, along with how it will be integrated in the classroom.

“Common Core is not a way of teaching but what students need to know,” Ritsch said. “To put an order to standards, Common Core is being implemented.”

Following the press conference, Ritsch was escorted to the teacher’s cafeteria to speak with faculty and staff during nutrition. Several teachers got the opportunity to meet and talk to him. Teachers and staff members were excited that Ritsch came to visit DPMHS.

“I think it’s always nice when those who make policies for schools visit and see day-to-day work,” said English teacher Paul Viskanta. “It’s hard for them to see our full day and how budget cuts put pressure on education, but the time they do spend here is powerful and should be encouraged.”

Ritsch first began his career in journalism working for the Los Angeles Times in 1998. He reported on education for five years and was working for the Los Angeles Times when journalist Daniel Pearl was killed in 2002. He was among the reporters who went to the Pearl family home in Encino when Pearl was kidnapped and killed.

“The objectivity part (of journalism) can be hard. It’s hard to take controversial stories and not give merit to one side,” Ritsch said.

After working for the Los Angeles Times, Ritsch moved on to work tracking campaign financing at the Center for Responsive Politics. In April of 2009, Ritsch started working in education as a deputy assistant secretary for external affairs and outreach, which is the position he currently holds.

Ritsch briefly discussed the impact that technology has on education and how it affects teaching methods during a question and answer with The Pearl Post newspaper staff.

“I’m glad to see that Daniel Pearl’s legacy lives on thanks to this school district,” Ritsch said

Caption Photo by Ana Perez
Ritsch answered a variety of questions during a mock press conference with newspaper and yearbook staff on Monday. Photo by Ana Perez