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.

Ways to Connect

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.”

Emily Files / WUWM

Hundreds of airport safety workers in Wisconsin have gone without pay during the federal government shutdown. A small group of them picketed outside General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee Saturday.

The members of the aviation safety specialists union kept the informational picket small because they wanted to be inside the airport, where they could hand out information to travelers. But they say management told them they had to go outside, to a remote corner with almost no foot traffic, for safety reasons. 

Emily Files

Mentors can help at-risk children stay in school, go to college and find a job. Even though there are many mentorship programs in Milwaukee, the efforts are piecemeal. But there’s a new organization in town that’s meant to bring together and bolster the city's mentorship programs.

Emily Files

You may have heard of one of the world's fastest-growing refugee crises: the Rohingya exodus out of Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country also known as Burma.

After long waits in countries like Malaysia or Bangladesh, a tiny percentage of the world’s Burmese refugees end up right here in Milwaukee. In fact, they are the top arriving refugee group to Wisconsin.

Emily Files

It's been an interesting year for education in Wisconsin. With 2018 coming to a close, let's look back at some of the biggest education stories in the state.

Education was a central topic in the contest between incumbent Scott Walker and challenger Tony Evers.  Walker called himself "the education governor."

"In the last budget, we gave the largest actual-dollar investment in K-12 education in the history of this state," Walker said in his first debate against Evers. 

Screenshot/Wisconsin Eye

There could be major funding changes on the way for Wisconsin public schools. A lawmaker-led committee on education spending met for the final time Wednesday. It put forward a list of recommendations for legislative action.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding traveled around Wisconsin in 2018. It took testimony from administrators, teachers, parents and students. The consensus: an overhaul of Wisconsin’s education funding system is overdue.

Emily Files

For 25 years, the Wisconsin legislature has restricted how much school boards can raise local property taxes. Some education leaders argue that the rules put schools on an uneven playing field. And they say the tax ceilings have become untenable in recent years.

The restrictions at issue are called revenue limits. They impact 80 to 90 percent of school boards’ budgets, controlling how much a board can spend in state general aid and property taxes. The result: school boards' ability to raise mill rates is confined to a legislature-determined dollar amount.

SCREENSHOT/JULES SUZDALTSEV/TWITTER

The Baraboo School District will bolster education about the Holocaust and examine equity in its schools following the controversy over a photograph of a couple dozen students giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.

The prom photo was taken in May but received international attention after being posted to social media last month.

Pages