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

Emily Files / WUWM

In most Wisconsin school districts, 4-year-olds can attend kindergarten. But the programs are usually for just part of the day. State legislators are now considering two bills that could expand full-day kindergarten options for children under 5.

Emily Files / WUWM

One of President Trump’s most controversial Cabinet members visited Milwaukee Monday to celebrate and call for the expansion of school choice. It was Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ first stop on her back-to-school tour promoting "education freedom."

DeVos spent a few hours at St. Marcus Lutheran School, a private voucher school in the Brewer's Hill neighborhood. She toured classrooms, talked to students, and held a roundtable discussion that included like-minded state lawmakers.

carlycassano / Flickr

Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are a growing concern for college students. Demand for counseling services at University of Wisconsin campuses has increased by more than 50% since 2010. According to the World Health Organization, most lifetime mental disorders manifest before the age of 24. 

Emily Files / WUWM

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released standardized test results for public school students Thursday, and there’s not much to celebrate.

Students’ mastery of both English language arts and math declined compared to the previous year, with just about 40% of students proficient in each. Students were making progress in math previously, but that trend did not continue this year. English results have declined for a couple years.

Emily Files / WUWM

This spring, Milwaukee Public School leaders agreed to reinstate employee salary schedules, which provide workers with predictable raises based on experience and education level.

It’s a compensation system that MPS eliminated after Act 10 deprived unions of most bargaining powers. Now, the district is reversing course with the goal of stabilizing its workforce.

Emily Files

Students at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts in Bay View were welcomed with a red carpet and drumline Tuesday morning at Milwaukee Public Schools' back-to-school celebration. 

MPS’s approximately 76,000 students are back in classrooms this week. They might not know it, but there’s a new team of leaders making decisions that will affect them at the local and state level.

Emily Files

The MPS Board is expected to consider a proposal this fall that would raise minimum music requirements for schools. The proposal is the culmination of a year-long effort by teachers to increase student access to music education. 

On a recent morning, Ronald Reagan High School teacher Erica Breitbarth was leading her chamber choir students in a rehearsal of Edward Elgar’s 'As Torrents in Summer.'

Emily Files / WUWM

Do you have ideas about how to improve Milwaukee Public Schools? District leaders want to hear them.

MPS is asking residents to take an online survey and attend public listening sessions about what it takes to create ideal schools.  

Emily Files

Several states have taken steps to make college more affordable by creating free-tuition "promise" programs. Each one is different, but in general, they allow students to attend community college, or sometimes public universities, for free.

Emily Files

Wisconsin has some of the most pronounced education gaps between black and white students. In 2012, a group of suburban Milwaukee school districts, along with Concordia University in Mequon, launched a collaboration to address those racial disparities — the Closing the Achievement Gap Consortium.

Emily Files

In his first months as superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, Keith Posley announced an ambitious goal: that MPS math, reading and writing scores would surpass the state average within five years.

Emily Files

Alexandra Moreno is an incoming junior at Carmen High School of Science and Technology in Milwaukee. She wants to be a lawyer. But she’s not waiting until she earns that degree to speak out about an issue that's important to her – immigrant rights.  

“Right now, we’re actually planning a march to advocate for people that are at the border,” Moreno says. "Immigration rights is something to follow through [on] here because our country is a melting pot."

Alesandra Tejeda

On the corner of Cambridge Avenue and Hampshire Avenue on Milwaukee’s east side, there’s a home that stands out.

It’s not a bungalow or a duplex or a high-rise. It’s a boat. It looks like a 70-foot-long yacht, perched on a grassy lawn, facing the Milwaukee River. If that isn’t enough to catch your eye, there is a lighthouse replica on the front lawn.

Emily Files

Wisconsin's first state budget under former education chief, now-Gov. Tony Evers provides a $570 million increase for K-12 schools. Republican lawmakers crafted the spending plan, which resulted in a smaller boost than Evers proposed. 

Whether public school advocates see that as a success or failure depends on who you ask.

Emily Files

Legislation aimed at helping dyslexic students in Wisconsin cleared a major hurdle last month when it was approved by the State Assembly. The bill is now in the Senate’s hands. From there, it would go to Gov. Tony Evers, and potentially become Wisconsin’s first dyslexia-specific law. 

But the debate over how to support struggling readers is far from over.

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