Jen Pike-Vassell walks first grader Bre'Yelle to class on the last day at Lagniappe Academies.
Credit: Mallory Falk / WWNO
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.
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.
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 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.

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. [...]

Good Teaching Series / Public Insight Network Join The Conversation: “What Is Good Teaching?”

Join The Conversation: “What Is Good Teaching?”

Please help public media stations across the South better understand a very basic question – What is good teaching? Share your knowledge and insights on what you think makes a good teacher here.

Resources / What You Need To Know What You Need To Know: Summer Learning Loss

What You Need To Know: Summer Learning Loss

Summer learning loss occurs in most children who are not actively learning during the summer months. This loss of information is usually greater in children from low-income families, but experts say there are potential solutions – if political will can be found to support them.

American Graduate

Back on Track: Louisiana Graduates

Louisiana’s graduation rate has jumped nearly ten points over the last decade. But at 74.6%, the state’s high school graduation rate still lags behind the national average of 81%. And last year 19 school districts saw their graduation rates decline. How do students stay in school despite these odds? This [...]

Recent Posts

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.

American Graduate

Back on Track: Louisiana Graduates

Louisiana’s graduation rate has jumped nearly ten points over the last decade. But at 74.6%, the state’s high school graduation rate still lags behind the national average of 81%. And last year 19 school districts saw their graduation rates decline. How do students stay in school despite these odds? This [...]

American Graduate / Early Education / Tennessee / Uncategorized

Story Time to Graduation

Story time for preschoolers on a regular, consistent basis can have a positive effect on their ability to read later– and possibly their likelihood to graduate.

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.

Inmates from several prisons take a math class at J.F. Ingram State Technical College. The campus becomes a medium-security facility when students arrive. We agreed not to show full faces. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / Special Coverage

Interview With An Alabama Inmate & Horticulture Student

Alabama’s J.F. Ingram State may be the nation’s only state-run two-year college exclusively for inmates. Its mission is to reduce recidivism by offering “three legs of the stool”: academics, life skills (getting along with coworkers and family, managing stress, getting to work on time, and more), and vocational training. Our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen recently visited Ingram’s Deatsville campus, where he met Timothy Brown, a 53-year-old convicted robber and burglar serving a life sentence but hoping for parole. Brown had walked over from the Frank Lee minimum-security facility next door. He’d been proudly passing around organic cantaloupe and filling in for his horticulture teacher. Dan starts the interview by asking Brown if doing the latter makes him nervous…

INTERVIEW: Ed Policy Expert On Her Deep-South State’s Low NAEP Rankings
Alabama / Audio

INTERVIEW: Ed Policy Expert On Her Deep-South State’s Low NAEP Rankings

Alabama recently got some unflattering news about its students’ proficiency, especially in eighth-grade math. The National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP is a standardized test sometimes called “the nation’s report card.” On the 2013 test, Alabama eighth-graders ranked fiftieth out of 52 jurisdictions in mathematics (military-base schools, and those in the District of Columbia, were counted as two additional groups). As with most education topics, though, it’s not quite that simple. Our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen sat down with Alabama School Connection executive director Trisha Powell Crain to go behind the results. She says we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on one data point, or be too surprised at Alabama’s low showing.

ulia Tutwiler Prison for Women inmates get down to business in a life-skills class, part of a pilot program offered by J.F. Ingram State Technical College. Ingram State's counseling coordinator Rick Vest and reentry program case manager Amanda Pittman (both at upper right) lead the class. Photos by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / Special Coverage

DOCUMENTARY: Voices (And Photos) From Women’s Prison Life-Skills Classes

J.F. Ingram Technical College is a unique part of Alabama’s two-year college system because all of its students are incarcerated. Last month, as part of WBHM-Birmingham’s prison-reporting partnership with Al.com, our Dan Carsen drove down to Ingram’s campus at Julia Tutwiler Prison For Women in Wetumpka, Alabama. He was planning to do a short story on Ingram’s program there, but he came out with so many compelling conversations that he wanted to make a mini-documentary…

Students in an office information systems class at J.F. Ingram State Technical College's Tutwiler prison campus. Technically this is school property, but the building is inside the security perimeter. From the outside it's indistinguishable from the  prison, but inside, the atmosphere of what the inmates call "the trade school" is quite different. Photo by Dan Carsen.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / Special Coverage

INTERVIEW: Inmate In Alabama’s Tutwiler Prison On Promising New Ed Program

One barrier people released from prison face is a lack of skills. But some educators in Alabama are working to smooth that transition long before the inmates get out: J.F. Ingram State Technical College has a new program at Tutwiler Prison that teaches vocations and life skills, including getting along with others, with the goal of reducing recidivism. As part of WBHM-Birmingham and Al.com’s prison-reporting collaboration, our Dan Carsen sat in on those classes and later caught up with a student — an inmate named Robin. We agreed not to use last names, but Dan asked her about her plans once she’s out … and about why she’s in.

INTERVIEW: James Willig On “Gamification” Of Medical Training
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia / science

INTERVIEW: James Willig On “Gamification” Of Medical Training

Medical education is always evolving. One way it’s changed in recent years is that residents are not allowed to work the long, judgment-impairing shifts they used to. Most agree that’s good. But how do you make up for all that lost teaching time? Some University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers think they have an answer: video games. They created a competitive educational game called “Kaizen-Internal Medicine,” or just “Kaizen-IM,” and a small but promising study showed that busy young doctors learned from it in their off hours. UAB’s James Willig sat down with our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen to explain. Willig starts with the downside of limiting residents’ work hours.

At The Egg And I in Hoover, Alabama. From bottom left: Allinda Brown, Justin Barkley, Arnold Singer, Robyn Hyden (obscured), Sabrina Lewis, Rachel Osier Lindley, and Dan Carsen. Photo by Audrey Atkins.
Alabama / Audio / Multimedia

Carsen Helps Lead Talk On Controversial Hoover, Ala. School Bus Fee Plan

Recently AL.com and WBHM-Birmingham hosted a lunch discussion on the controversy over the Hoover school system’s plan to impose fees on student bus riders. AL.com reporter Jon Anderson and our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen were on hand to facilitate the sometimes heated discussion and answer questions. Afterward, Carsen spoke with WBHM’s News Director Rachel Osier Lindley. To start, Carsen recaps how the situation got to where it is today.