Articles written by: Dan Carsen

Dan Carsen is our reporter stationed at WBHM in Birmingham. He’s been a teacher, a teacher trainer, a newspaper reporter, a radio commentator, and an editor in an educational publishing house. His writing and reporting have won numerous awards. His outside interests include basketball, kayaking, sailing, mountain biking, and hoping his toddlers let him sleep.

All In The Game: College Athletes Talk Tensions Between Sports And Academics
Alabama / All In The Game / school sports

All In The Game: College Athletes Talk Tensions Between Sports And Academics

Across the South, college football is in full swing. But football is just one of dozens of NCAA sports. In any season, student-athletes are pushing themselves on the field, in the gym, and in the classroom. They get scholarships and generate billions of dollars. But they also get hurt and struggle with their studies on top of what’s basically a demanding full-time job. In Part One of our series, “Pressure and Performance on the Field of Play,” our Alabama reporter looks at tensions between sports and academics, through the eyes of the athletes themselves.

LA Johnson/NPR
Alabama / Audio / science

Alabama’s Science Standards Get A Makeover

Alabama schools are getting new science standards for the first time in a decade. The state Board of Education voted unanimously today to replace old standards that some teachers say were behind the times the moment they were approved.

The view from a science classroom at nationally recognized Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School in Irondale, Alabama. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / science / STEM

INTERVIEW: Dr. Minda Berbeco On Alabama’s New Science Standards

Alabama’s State Board of Education is set to vote tomorrow on new K-12 science standards that would go into effect next school year. Most science teachers in the state say the new standards are better than the current decade-old ones. We wanted a national perspective too, so our Alabama reporter caught up with Dr. Minda Berbeco, Programs and Policy Director for the National Center for Science Education. He asks if she’s surprised there hasn’t been much controversy on standards dealing with evolution, climate change, and more.

Spectators take in the middle-school homecoming football game at Wilcox County High School in Camden, Alabama last year. It was the main event in the area that night. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / school sports / science

A Window On Other Arenas: Sports, Race, & More With Sociologist Adrienne Milner

You don’t have to be a scholar to know that African-Americans are heavily represented in contact sports like football and basketball, but underrepresented in “lifetime sports” like tennis or golf. Some casual observers have come up with simple explanations for that. But a University of Alabama at Birmingham sociologist and author who studies race and gender in sports says the reality is anything but simple, or fair. Adrienne Milner, who played college basketball until an injury ended her athletic career, tells the Southern Education Desk’s Dan Carsen that she’s intrigued by inequity in all fields, but sports are special for her area of focus, for a reason you might not guess.

Ashton Bridges of Phenix City, Alabama about to pounce on timpani drums at the University of Montevallo. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / Summer Learning Series

Summer Learning: Ambitious Program Gears Up To Push Middle-Schoolers Past High School

Fewer reading materials in the home. Less access to camps or museums. Those are some reasons summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income kids. There are many in the South, which can hamper efforts to raise graduation rates. But in Part Two of this Southern Education Desk series, WBHM’s Dan Carsen reports on “GEAR UP Alabama” — a wide-ranging federally funded attempt to meet those challenges, and more.

Will and Vicki Tuggle outside their home in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / school sports

In Football Country, Concussion Awareness Brings Parental Dilemma

More and more people are learning about the risks contact sports pose to the brain. So even here in the football-loving Deep South, parents and young athletes are wrestling with a serious dilemma, one that could affect them decades later: to play or not to play. To help parents facing that decision, our Alabama reporter got some personal perspective from families who’ve already faced sports-related concussions.

There wasn't a single free seat at the Vestavia Hills Board of Education meeting Wednesday night. Almost 30 people addressed the Board over more than two hours about whether to keep or drop the system's "rebel" mascot. Credit: Dan Carsen/WBHM.

Capacity Crowd Turns Out For Vestavia Hills Mascot Forum

An emotional issue across the South and the nation came to a head in Vestavia Hills last night — the debate over symbols related to the Confederacy. The school board held a public forum, partly spurred by residents who want the system to drop its “Rebel” mascot.

Jennifer Brown, Alabama's 2015-2015 Teacher of the Year. Alabama State Department of Education photo.
Alabama / Audio

INTERVIEW: Alabama Teacher Of The Year On Common Core, Charters, “Rebel” Mascots & More

Vestavia Hills, Ala. science teacher Jennifer Brown is that state’s 2015-2016 Teacher of The Year. The 16-year educator, who once wanted to be a professional basketball player, sits down with our Alabama reporter to talk about her motivations and about controversial issues like Common Core, charter schools, standardized testing and Vestavia Hills City Schools’ “Rebel” mascot.