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.

James Hanks, 18, before speaking with the Southern Education Desk at Birmingham City Schools' Lincoln Professional Development Center. While working several jobs, he got his high school diploma May 14. But as he'll tell you below, he used to focus on all the wrong things. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / Special Coverage

INTERVIEW: James Hanks, Birmingham Dropout Recovery Graduate

The U.S. Secretary of Education recently recognized Alabama for having one of the nation’s steepest increases in high school graduation rates. Birmingham City Schools’ rate increased even more – up roughly 23 percent in the last four years. The latest data reported to the state education department puts the system’s rate at 79 percent — just below the national average. Alabama reporter Dan Carsen sits down with James Hanks, an 18-year-old who just graduated through Birmingham Schools’ Dropout Recovery Program.

Some of Unidos Dual Language Charter School teacher John Rendon's second-graders getting into a lesson. Play the audio to hear what comes next. For more on Unidos school, see Part One of this series. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Georgia / National / Special Coverage / Tennessee / Uncategorized

Bilingual Education In The South, Part Four: “Enormous” Economic Consequences

Students who don’t speak English as their first language – or “language minorities” – rank toward the bottom in almost every measure of academic achievement. Moral and legal concerns aside, even if their population were to stop rising, the situation signifies a looming hit to the national and regional economies. [...]

Tarrant High School junior Angelina Baltazar (left), her mother Maria Baltazar, and ESL teacher Anne Pace. The Baltazars are from Guatemala, but Maria's first language was not Spanish -- it was an isolated Mayan language from western Guatemala and eastern Mexico. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Georgia / National / Special Coverage / Tennessee / Uncategorized

Bilingual Education In The South, Part Three: The Hurdles

Students who don’t speak English as their first language, or “language minorities,” are some of the most socially and economically disadvantaged in our nation and in the South. So far in our series we’ve looked at two dual-language schools (a more common description since the phrase “bilingual schools” became politically [...]

Lesther Martin, a World Language Academy teacher originally from Guatemala, teaches his fourth-graders social studies. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Georgia / National / Special Coverage / Tennessee / Uncategorized

Bilingual Education In The South, Part Two: Another Program Across The Border (In Georgia)

As public schools become more linguistically diverse, some see bilingual or “dual-language” programs as a way to improve education for all – English speakers too. Yesterday we checked out an innovative dual-language school in a low-income Georgia neighborhood just outside Atlanta. Today we’ll visit a program 50 miles to the [...]

Science! These students at Unidos Dual Language Charter School in Clayton County, Georgia are learning their science in Spanish. And there's science to suggest the approach benefits Spanish- and English-speakers alike. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Georgia / Multimedia / National / Special Coverage / Tennessee / Uncategorized

Bilingual Education In The South: It Is Happening, Even Here

The number of Latinos in America’s schools is rising faster than any other group’s. And their share of the school population is rising fastest in the South. Many don’t speak English as their first language, making them “language-minorities.” And the question of how best to educate them is becoming crucial in places with little bilingual history – places like Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. So WBHM and the Southern Education Desk are kicking off a four-part series on language-minority education in the South. In Part One, we cross the border (into Georgia) to see an innovative school and a counterintuitive concept in action.

From left to right, education journalists Sarah Carr, Dan Carsen, and Beth Hawkins at Renaissance Journalism's recent Equity Reporting Fellowship conference in Detroit. Photo by Joe Grimm.
Alabama / Events

Carsen Named Recipient Of Equity Reporting Fellowship Award

The SED’s Alabama reporter Dan Carsen has been named a fellow in Renaissance Journalism’s initiative, “The Equity Reporting Project: Restoring the Promise of Education.” Only 31 journalists nationwide have been selected.

A slide in Dr. Gulnaz Javan's Crime Scene Investigation class at Alabama State University. Photos by Dan Carsen. NOTE: Viewers may find some photos below the story disturbing.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / science

Alabama Research Yields New Word, New Way To Investigate Murders

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Believe it or not, in a healthy human body, microbial cells outnumber human cells by about ten to one. Scientists, doctors, and health-conscious people are learning more and more about our “personal ecosystems.” But what happens to this individualized community of life after we die? Some Alabama State University forensics researchers are looking [...]

Dr. Hank Dasinger, president of Alabama's J.F. Ingram State Technical College, the only state-run two-year college whose student body is 100 percent incarcerated. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / Special Coverage

A Unique College For Inmates, And An Interview With Its President

The United States locks up people at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world. Some of the most overcrowded prisons are in Alabama. Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women is one of them. It’s also been under federal investigation for sex abuse by guards. But some inmates there have access to a unique state-funded program that offers academics and life skills they’ll need after release. The problem is, this J.F. Ingram State Technical College program, which could ease overcrowding, is struggling for funds. Our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen has this national story, and a full-length interview with J.F. Ingram’s president.