Erin Richards, 2015-16, is an education reporter and part-time news editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She’s been with the paper since 2007, covering suburban government before moving to urban education and state education policy. She also herds the newspaper’s summer interns and has been a journalism instructor at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis.
Erin’s 2009 series Beyond the Bell, about the tattered link between a quality education and a sound home life, was a Livingston Award finalist. And Building a Better Teacher, a 2010 series she co-authored that took a sweeping look at efforts to change the ways teachers are trained, paid, assessed and dismissed, won first place in the Education Writers Association annual contest.
A lifelong equestrian and travel enthusiast, Erin has written for numerous national equine sports publications, freelanced for Missouri Life and Smithsonian.com, and worked at Budget Travel magazine.
Erin has a master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia Journalism School and an undergraduate degree from Murray State University in Murray, Ken.
Currently, much of her reporting focuses on the unusual school landscape in Milwaukee, where a 25-year-old urban voucher school program serves more students in taxpayer-funded private schools than anywhere else in the country.
Erin will spend her Spencer year exploring the growth of voucher schools, their impact on kids and communities, and the struggle to regulate their quality.
“Milwaukee’s Voucher Verdict,” winter 2017 issue of American Prospect magazine.
School vouchers’ impact on Catholic schools, USA Today, Feb. 2017
Some of Erin’s favorite pieces include:
A profile of a young student who rose from poverty and abuse to become a pre-professional ballet dancer, after being adopted by his teacher:
A twist on the why-is-Finland so successful story, with an eye toward what Wisconsin could learn from the country’s reforms:
The “Changing Classrooms” series, detailing innovations reshaping the delivery of education in a time of tight resources:
An analysis of how the U.S. government’s immigration policies are playing out in the horse industry, which employs tens of thousands of Mexicans at racetracks and show barns around the country: