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 NPR's Morning Edition, Marketplace, NPR’s Only a Game, and The World.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of Craig Griffie

Coronavirus-related school closures present some unique challenges to vocational education because hands-on learning isn’t possible right now. Even though their last few months of training were cut short, a Brown Deer teacher is working with his high school seniors to arrange job placements in the construction field.

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Emily Files / WUWM

As Milwaukee Public Schools begins its budget process, it’s facing an uncertain future but some reassurance from a recently approved tax referendum. Superintendent Keith Posley wants to spend about half of the referendum revenue on employee salaries and benefits, and use much of the rest to add 229 new positions.

MPS’s total budget is about $1.2 billion. The referendum will increase funding by $57 million next school year, gradually growing to $87 million in 2023.

Courtesy of John Berges and Erica Young

School closures triggered by the coronavirus are especially hard on students with disabilities and their families. These students often get one-on-one help at school, along with services like speech and physical therapy. In March, students and families suddenly lost all of that support. 

“Our new normal is barely coping,” said John Berges, whose son Theo is a special needs student at Shorewood High School. Berges sent WUWM a voice memo describing his family’s experience. 

stellamc / stock.adobe.com

Updated Friday at 2:28 p.m. CT

The City of Milwaukee is poised to furlough or reduce hours for more than 700 employees to make up for some of the revenue it’s lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

Approved Friday by the Common Council, about 260 employees will be furloughed and about 500 will have their hours cut. This won’t apply to public health employees, police, or firefighters — only those who either can’t work remotely or have less work to do right now. That includes, for example, library personnel, building inspectors, and municipal court workers.

Emily Files / WUWM

The COVID-19 crisis could significantly deplete state resources in Wisconsin. Gov. Tony Evers says the state could lose more than $2 billion over the next year because tax collections are expected to drop and demand for state services like Medicaid is expected to increase.

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Chuck Quirmbach

There are 187 COVID-19 outbreaks at facilities across Wisconsin, including nursing homes, workplaces and health care locations.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services released the new outbreak information in an online dashboard on Wednesday. DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said the dashboard is meant to provide a more complete picture of Wisconsin’s coronavirus numbers.


Wisconsin’s largest school district, Milwaukee Public Schools, is facing criticism from some teachers and families for its handling of distance education during the coronavirus shutdown. MPS has provided paper packets and links to educational websites. But it’s been slower than many other districts to distribute computers and implement teacher-led remote instruction.

Courtesy of Tony Evers

Updated Thursday at 11:49 a.m. CT

Republican leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature asked the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday to block an order from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' administration extending the safer-at-home order until May 26.

Emily Files / WUWM

In response to the coronavirus public health emergency, Gov. Tony Evers ordered all Wisconsin K-12 schools to close. WUWM will post updates below about how K-12 schools in the Milwaukee area are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

>>The Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Emily Files / WUWM

On Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers extended his stay-at-home order — it includes keeping all Wisconsin K-12 schools closed for the rest of the spring semester.

Since schools first shutdown mid-March, some have been quick to implement virtual instruction. But Milwaukee Public Schools has been slower to make that shift.

Emily Files / WUWM

Students and teachers at Wisconsin colleges and universities are grappling with the uncertainty of coronavirus-related closures. Schools across the state have suspended in-person classes, study abroad programs, and athletics.

WUWM will post updates below about how Milwaukee-area higher education institutions are responding to the coronavirus crisis.

>>The Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

Updated April 24, 6:23 p.m. 

Milwaukee Public Schools will get an additional $87 million each year to spend on educational programming after voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum allowing the district to raise revenue through a property tax increase.

The referendum funding may help MPS deal with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered schools indefinitely beginning mid-March.

Courtesy Naoshi Johnson, Jeremiah Baez and Moo Ko Wah.

This is the time of year when many high school seniors are making one of the most important decisions of their lives — where to go to college. But the coronavirus has created tremendous uncertainty as students try to plan for their future.

"I feel like at this point, I’m so lost," says Moo Ko Wah, a senior at MPS’s South Division High School. "At school I have my coaches, my mentor. And here I don’t have nobody."

Emily Files / WUWM

Schools across Wisconsin are shut down indefinitely to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. It’s an unprecedented situation, and it raises a lot of questions about what schools should do in this situation and how student learning and emotional wellbeing is affected as families hunker down at home.

WUWM wants to hear from students of all ages, as well as their families and teachers, about how they’re adjusting to the new normal of school closures and social distancing.

Chuck Quirmbach

Updated Tuesday at 12:08 p.m. CT

Tuesday is election day in Wisconsin, due to an order from the state Supreme Court.

Less than 24 hours before the April 7 election was scheduled to begin, Gov. Tony Evers called off the election and postponed in-person voting to June 9. But, Monday, the state Supreme Court ruled 4-2 that Evers lacked the authority to do so.