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.

"Mr. Fred" Oliver, 86, after a morning of improving his reading and writing at the Literacy Council of Central Alabama. Credit: Dan Carsen / WBHM.
Alabama / Audio

A Conversation with “Mr. Fred,” 86-Year-Old Learning to Read

Fred Oliver of Birmingham is 86 and a world traveler. He loves to visit far-off places, but his latest odyssey is close to home at the Literacy Council of Central Alabama: he’s learning to read and write.

Learner Janie Morgan, left, and volunteer tutor Judy Hickman take a quick break from lessons at the Literacy Council in downtown Birmingham. Credit: Dan Carsen / WBHM
Alabama / Audio

Fighting Adult Illiteracy, One Reader at a Time

A 25-year-old Birmingham-based nonprofit and United Way agency is working with about 150 people who realize “You’re never too old to learn. And you’re never too old to learn how to read better. And do better in your life.”

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.