Race

Challenging work brings out a range of emotions in a technology class at Phillips Academy in downtown Birmingham. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Poverty / Race / Special Coverage

Birmingham Schools, Takeover To Today, Part 3: Turning A Corner? Looking Ahead

Birmingham, Ala.– The Alabama State Department of Education’s intervention team has left Birmingham City Schools. ALSDE staff are approving local board agendas and monitoring finances from Montgomery. A year and a half after the state first took the reins, the local board is quietly going about its business. As 2014 approaches, [...]

"I get it" lightbulbs are lit in this technology class at Phillips Academy in downtown Birmingham. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Poverty / Race / Special Coverage

Birmingham Schools, Takeover To Today, Part 2: A View From The Classroom Level

In any big institution, good things are usually happening even when problems get the attention. This week we’re airing and publishing a three-part “status update” on Birmingham City Schools, from the state takeover to today. Yesterday, Part One explored some of the reasons why the state intervened and the district could lose accreditation. Today in Part Two, our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen talks with teachers, parents, and students to get a different view — a view from the ground level.

State schools chief Tommy Bice (center right), Birmingham Mayor William Bell (lower left) and other area leaders look on with concern at a contentious April 2012 board meeting that helped trigger state intervention. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Poverty / Race / Special Coverage

Birmingham Schools, Takeover To Today, Part 1: The Run-Up To State Intervention

The Alabama State Department of Education’s intervention team is now monitoring Birmingham City Schools from afar, a year and a half after it first took control of the city school system. The district had been facing major challenges, including a board so dysfunctional it made national news. But that’s only part of the picture. In this first of a three-part series, our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen delves into the complex and often painful situation leading to state intervention.

Some of the youngest stakeholders protest last summer after Hoover's school board voted to cancel the district's bus routes. Since then, the board has reversed that decision but approved a fee structure for student riders. School officials recently announced that would be delayed until 2015 ... but the controversy is still brewing. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Race

INTERVIEW: Trisha Powell Crain On Hoover Schools Reinstating Buses

There’s been a victory of sorts for parents whose children ride school buses in Hoover, Alabama. In July, the school board got national attention and angered many residents by voting to scrap the sprawling district’s busing program starting next school year. But after intense community pressure and input from the Justice Department, the board unanimously reversed itself last week. Shortly after, our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen caught up with Trisha Powell Crain, a Hoover parent and longtime education policy writer. Though she has some misgivings, she calls the school-board reversal a good example of what persistent community organizing can accomplish.

From the cover of the recently released paperback, "Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America." Tanner Colby, who moved to Vestavia Hills in eighth grade, wrote it after realizing that despite the nation electing its first black president, he and his white friends basically didn't have any black friends.
Alabama / Race

INTERVIEW: Tanner Colby, “Some of My Best Friends Are Black”

As Barack Obama campaigned his way to the presidency, self-described lily-white writer Tanner Colby began pondering — and then tenaciously researching — exactly why he and other white people didn’t have black friends. The reasons are complex, ranging from school policy to real estate practices to media image-making to church politics. But Colby dives right in from the springboard of his own life, recognizing his ignorance the whole way. The result: “Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America.” Our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen caught up with the author not long after he appeared on MSNBC to discuss America’s persistent racial separation.

One of many Birmingham Civil Rights Institute exhibits that show the separation of black life and white life. Differences in the teaching of that history remain. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Race

Black School, White School: Teaching The Civil Rights Movement

Most people know Birmingham, Alabama was a Civil Rights Movement battleground. But how is that complicated history taught in schools today? And are there differences between white and black districts? The Southern Education Desk’s Dan Carsen went to class in urban Birmingham and a nearby suburb — one of the wealthiest in the nation — to find out.

Spending Disparities: A Patchwork Approach To Pre-K Funding (Interview)
Poverty / Pre-K Series / Race

Spending Disparities: A Patchwork Approach To Pre-K Funding (Interview)

Demand for pre-K programming is growing across the South, but state-level fiscal challenges have limited the number of kids pre-K can serve. Southern Education Foundation President and CEO Kent McGuire examines the challenges pre-K funding faces across the nation, but especially in the deep South.

Elementary students enter Jones Paideia Magnet School in Nashville.
Multimedia / Poverty / Race / School Choice / Segregation Shifts Series / Tennessee / Video

Segregation Shifts – Nashville Wrestles With Re-Segregation (Video)

Without court-ordered desegregation, many school districts have struggled to find strategies to maintain racial balance and diversity. Many parents now choose the neighborhood school for their children rather than sending them long distances away, even for a program that might be considered high quality—like magnet schools. Districts are finding that many parents of all ethnic groups no longer view racial balance as a top priority in educating their children. In Nashville, public school officials are finding it a challenge to balance school improvement plans with a desire for racial diversity.