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It’s journalism awards season, and that’s a good thing.

One of the latest education-related segments that’s been honored is this December 2015 WBEZ Chicago Public Radio segment about kids’ eternal schemes to get out of high school requirements like gym and swim class:

“Since high school swimming was invented, kids have been trying to get out of it. It’s an elaborate game of cat and mouse.”

Titled Find Dr. Fong, the delightful segment starts with a school form requiring students to get a permission slip from a doctor but not Dr. Fong.  “Only notes from a medical doctor other than Dr. Fong will be accepted.”

Built literally from a phrase written at the bottom of a scrap of paper (and education reporter Linda Lutton’s insatiably curious mind), the piece was recently given a Murrow award.

While it might appear to be a light story on a silly topic, what makes “Find Dr. Fong” work so well is that it captures the tensions between rules and freedom that mark public education, takes listeners on an adventure of discovery, and gives us a peek into schools that goes beyond the obvious and overdone.  It also takes risks, featuring the daring and memorable line: “Wrong Fong.”

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at