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.

Supporters of the former superintendent displayed these, but they were outnumbered in the crowd and on the school board. Credit: Dan Carsen / WBHM
Alabama / Audio

Birmingham School Board Ousts Superintendent

After a heated meeting on September 23, the board surprised many by voting 6-3 to fire Kelley Castlin-Gacutan. “Dr. G” had held the position for 14 months.

Screenshot of EdBuild map.
Alabama / Race

Study of School District Borders Shows US, AL Economic Segregation

A wide body of research shows that students in poor school districts face real disadvantages. But the way the U.S. funds schools creates pockets of poverty right next to enclaves of wealth.

The Alabama State Board of Education. Credit: ALSDE.
Alabama

State Board Taps Consultant for New Schools Chief

It took repeated tries, but today the state school board named Michael Sentance, a consultant and formerMassachusetts Secretary of Education, its choice to be new Alabama Superintendent.

Brett William Kirkham, 40. Credit: Tuscaloosa County Jail.
Alabama

JeffCo Schools Personnel Director Faces Federal Child-Porn Charges

Brett William Kirkham already faces charges that include having sex with a student. Now he faces federal child pornography charges too. Joyce White Vance, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, today announced the indictment.

From left to right, rising senior Cameron Taylor, rising junior Taylor Crawford, former principal Martha Barber, rising senior Kayln O'neal, and rising senior James Thornton. Credit: Dan Carsen / WBHM / The Junction.
Alabama / Community

The Junction: Stories from Ensley, Alabama — Holy Family Cristo Rey High School

Fair or not, the words “Ensley” and “success” don’t often appear together in local media reports. But tucked among vacant buildings and weedy lots a few feet from an Interstate, there’s a high school that takes disadvantaged kids from all over Greater Birmingham, and it has a college acceptance rate most schools would envy.

Hoover High School computer science teacher Jill Westerlund helps a student with Java, which she calls an "unforgiving" language. Credit: Dan Carsen/WBHM.
Alabama / Priming the Pipeline for STEM in the South

Priming the Pipeline for STEM in the South: Student Incentives in Alabama

Given thousands of related job openings but only hundreds of computer science college graduates, Alabama is trying to ramp up its computer science education. That includes a new policy allowing those classes to count toward core math graduation requirements. WBHM’s Dan Carsen concludes our series with a visit to a Birmingham-area class that’s leading the way.

Spectators take in a middle-school football game in Wilcox County, Alabama. If Adrienne Milner has her way, these girls -- or at least more girls -- might be on the field instead of watching. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / school sports

Sociologists’ Book Urges End of Sex Divisions in Sports

Can you imagine a world with no gender divisions in sports? University of Alabama at Birmingham sociologist Adrienne Milner can. Not only that — she wants to help make it happen. Along with University of Miami professor Dr. Jomills Henry Braddock II, she’s written a new book called “Sex Segregation in Sports: Why Separate Is Not Equal.” Our Alabama reporter caught up with her to ask what else she hopes to accomplish, and why.

Time for serious discussion in JohnMark Edwards' eighth-grade social studies class at Phillips Academy in Birmingham, Alabama. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Teaching Tough Topics

Teaching Tough Topics: The Real History of the South

Teaching subjects that trigger strong emotions and political divides is challenging. In the South, many of those fault-lines — racial, religious and otherwise — are intimately tied to its history. This week the Southern Education Desk is exploring how teachers tackle tough topics. Our Alabama reporter starts with an overview of some the major challenges, and some of the ways teachers can get around them. Please note this report contains language some might find offensive.