Emily Files

Education Reporter

Emily became WUWM’s education reporter in August 2018 after spending four years in small-town Alaska.

She began as a reporter for KRBD in Ketchikan, where she once covered a bear interrupting a high school cross country race. She then worked as a reporter and eventually news director at KHNS Radio in Haines, where she reported on a man in a bear costume harassing actual bears. Aside from the occasional bear story, Emily covered the local politics, tribal issues, hunting, fishing and, of course, education.

Emily is originally from the Chicago area. She studied journalism at Emerson College in Boston, where she reported her very first radio stories for college station WERS. She interned at NPR’s Weekend Edition, The Boston Globe and PRI’s The World. Emily’s work has aired on Marketplace, NPR’s Only a Game, and The World.

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Emily Files

Tony Evers’ background is in education, including serving as the top education official in Wisconsin. Now that he is governor, Evers is proposing a raft of school funding changes. He delivered his first budget address on Feb. 28.

north-point-water-tower-dragon-milwaukee
Courtesy Terese Agnew

It was like something out of a fairy tale. One day in the fall of 1985, a green and gold dragon appeared on Milwaukee’s East Side.

It was a 30-foot-long, 350-pound sculpture perched on the gothic-looking North Point Water Tower, where North Avenue meets the lake bluff. The dragon’s teeth were bared, and its claws and tail curled around a ledge.  

Longtime Milwaukeeans Cookie Anderson and Gretchen Farrar-Foley remember the dragon.

Phil Roeder/Flickr

Gov. Tony Evers wants to spend an additional $150 million on Wisconsin’s public universities and colleges in the next two years. Evers plans to announce the proposal as part of his biennial budget address Thursday night.

The new governor’s proposal is a departure from his predecessor, Republican Scott Walker. Walker cut funding for the UW System and limited the universities’ ability to raise revenue by imposing a tuition freeze for in-state students.

Updated at 12:07 p.m.

The Kenosha News reports that three Tremper High School cheer coaches have been barred from attending a state competition their team is participating in this weekend. It also reports two coaches will resign at the end of the school year.  

Original Story at 11:36 a.m.

Emily Files

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will call for a freeze on school choice programs and independent charter schools when he introduces his biennial budget proposal this week.

Evers isn’t trying to end school choice in Wisconsin. But he does want to hit the brakes. His office provided an outline of his voucher and charter school proposal prior to his budget address, which is scheduled for Thursday.

It includes freezing enrollment in Wisconsin’s voucher programs, beginning in fiscal year 2021, and phasing out the newest of the programs.

Sherry Saccoliti / Flickr Creative Commons

The Kenosha Unified School District is under fire for what the American Civil Liberties Union calls an environment of pervasive gender discrimination.

The ACLU is asking the district to take more aggressive action in response to two eye-popping incidents that occurred in 2018. It is also demanding the district act to change a school culture “in which female students are objectified and sexualized.”

Lauren Sigfusson

After an unprecedented number of weather-related closures, Milwaukee Public Schools is adjusting its calendar for the rest of the school year. Feb. 19 was originally a staff-only day for professional development. But to make up for lost time, it is now a regular school day with students expected in class.

Emily Files

Sincere Tatum, 18, is one of a handful of black students at Brookfield Central High School. The school is 70 percent white, 4 percent black. 

“It took a while for me to adjust,” Tatum said. “Most of the time I’m the only African-American kid in my class.”

But Tatum tends to look for the upside in challenging situations.

“Like OK, there’s a cultural difference, but now I have the opportunity to educate my classmates if needed,” he says.

Emily Files / WUWM

Gov. Tony Evers wants to increase state special education funding by $600 million. The dramatic proposal follows a decade of flat state funding, despite rising costs to serve students with disabilities.

Right now, the main state support for special education only covers about a quarter of school districts’ costs. It’s up to local districts to make up the difference.

Courtesy Jesendra Tatum

Low-income students tend to face more barriers to higher education than their middle- and upper-class peers. Federal financial aid is supposed to help clear the way.

But part of the financial aid process, called verification, ensnares many low-income students in a confusing web of red tape.

Jesendra Tatum is one example. After graduating from Milwaukee School of Languages in 2018, Tatum planned to start college right away. She always wanted to be a veterinarian.

CHUCK QUIRMBACH

Snow and brutally cold temperatures prompted many Wisconsin schools to cancel classes most of this week. Milwaukee Public Schools are back in session Friday after being closed five school days in a row, starting Jan. 25.

When temperatures dropped to minus 20 degrees Wednesday, parents cooped up with their kids at home had to find creative ways to burn energy.

Emily Files / WUWM

The future of four Milwaukee charter schools is a little more certain after a school board decision Thursday night.

The MPS board voted 5-2 to extend its contract with Carmen Schools of Science and Technology, a local charter network. It serves 1,700 mostly low-income students.

Carmen’s two-year contract extension comes with caveats, following significant controversy.

Emily Files / WUWM

Should the Milwaukee School District embrace or distance itself from charter schools? That is the larger question looming over the MPS board as it weighs whether to renew its contract and building leases with the Carmen Schools of Science and Technology charter network.

Carmen’s 1,700 students have better overall test results than the district average. Still, advocates for Milwaukee’s traditional public schools are raising concerns.

Courtesy Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

 

Carolyn Stanford Taylor is Wisconsin’s first African-American superintendent of schools. She was appointed last week by Gov. Tony Evers to take over his former job leading the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

Stanford Taylor has firsthand experience with America’s deep-seated education inequities. As a 9-year-old, she was one the first black students to integrate schools in her hometown of Marks, Miss.

She says her mom posed the question to her and her siblings one day on the walk to school: do you want to go to the black school or the white school? 

Emily Files

At Tony Evers’ inauguration last week, he repeated one of his central promises: that he would invest more in public education.

“We talked about what’s best for our kids is best for our state,” Evers said. “And that means we need to fully fund our public schools at every level.”

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