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.

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.
Alabama

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.

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 [...]