Claudia Wallis is an education reporter specializing in the science of learning for The Hechinger Report, a health columnist for Scientific American, and an award winning reporter for Time Magazine where she founded Time for Kids and served as editor-at-large from 2003 to 2007. She teaches journalism at SUNY Stony Brook University, and mentored the Teacher Project Fellows in 2017 and 2018 at Columbia Journalism School. A two-time National Magazine Award finalist, Wallis used her Spencer Fellowship year in 2008 and 2009 to examine how the rising number of students diagnosed across the spectrum of autism disorders is challenging educators and the solvency of school districts. Her work resulted in a series of articles for The New York Times and Time Magazine.
Nancy Solomon has been a managing editor at WNYC/New York Public Radio for six years. Her team covering New Jersey won a 2014 Peabody award and in 2016, she managed the newsroom’s election coverage. Her work can be found here. Nancy is on the Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship board, and her Spencer hour-long radio documentary “Mind the Gap” won the Peabody in 2009. She is currently the New Jersey bureau chief of WNYC Radio. She also serves as a member of the Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship board.
Alexander Russo—As a result of his project, Russo wrote Stray Dogs, Saints and Strangers about the Locke High School turnaround in Los Angeles. For the past three years, Russo has been writing about media coverage of education. The Grade includes a weekly column and an email newsletter. His work has been picked up by The Washington Post, the Nieman Lab, NPR, the Education Writers Association, and the Poynter Institute.
Elizabeth Green—is co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat. She previously co-founded GothamSchools, now Chalkbeat New York. Elizabeth has also written about education issues for The New York Times Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, and many other publications. As a Spencer Fellow, Green published a cover story for The New York Times Magazine in March 2010 titled “Building a Better Teacher.” Green’s book, Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone), was released in 2014, and hailed by the NY Times as one of the year’s top 100 books.
Sarah Garland—Garland is the executive editor of The HechingerReport where she started in 2010 as the nonprofit news site’s first staff writer. The book researched during her 2009-2010 fellowship, Divided We Fail, examining why black activists sought to undermine desegregation in Louisville, KY, was published in 2013 by Beacon Press. As a writer and editor at The Hechinger Report, she’s helped shape the publication’s in-depth, research-based education coverage and now directs its editorial planning. Her Spencer year has been very influential in that work. Last year she edited a multi-media package about segregation in Mississippi, with a main story written by LynNell Hancock, and most recently edited a yearlong investigation uncovering how the Justice Department and federal courts have neglected desegregation and allowed the rapid re-segregation of districts still under order to maintain integrated schools.
Peg Tyre—As a result of her fellowship, Tyre, a former Newsweek education writer, published The Good School, a synthesis of school assessment research for a parent audience. She has since written about education for The New York Times, the Atlantic and other national outlets. She is also director of strategy for The Edwin Gould Foundation, which invests in organizations that get low-income students to and through college. Her most recent work in the Atlantic was on the “Writing Revolution” and in New York Times Magazine on a “Tech Start-up in the Developing World.” She is currently at work on a book on literacy and on a reporting series in Japan on the influence of Artificial Intelligence in education.
Dana Goldstein—As a result of her fellowship, Goldstein wrote The Teacher Wars, a history of teaching in America that was a New York Times top 100 book in 2014. Her other Spencer supported work on school reform in Colorado was published in the After a stint on the Marshall Project staff where she covered the intersection of children and justice, Dana now serves as the national correspondent at The New York Times covering education, inequality, race, gender, and health.
Greg Toppo—As a result of his fellowship, Toppo wrote the 2015 book The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter. Toppo was for decades the national K-12 education reporter for USA Today. He worked most recently as senior reporter at Insidehighered.com. Toppo is on the Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship board and recently served as president of the Education Writers Association.
Sarah Carr—As a result of her fellowship, Carr published Hope Against Hope: Three Schools, One City and the Struggle to Educate America’s Children about New Orleans school reform. She writes regularly on education at Hechinger Report, Slate Magazine, Atlantic, LA Times. She was recruited to direct The Teacher Project at Columbia Journalism School in 2014, an education journalism project for post-graduates that has published ambitious magazine series on for-profit last-chance high schools, immigrant education, and an award winning series on the new minority majority. Sarah is now heading up a new four-person investigative education team at the Boston Globe.
Trey Kay—In 2015, Kay collaborated with West Virginia Public Broadcasting to launch Us & Them, a podcast that tells the stories of America’s culture divides. His first forays into reporting about the culture wars — The Great Textbook War and The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom — were stories about education, but he wanted to explore other issues that cause Americans to cluster into differing entrenched camps of political or ideological belief. Us & Them has produced nearly 50 episodes addressing issues like the taking down of Confederate monuments, Islamophobia, global warming, LGBTQ rights, immigration, the future of the coal industry, civil rights, and the opioid crisis. He says that a good number of programs have been about the culture war issues over education including the teaching of sex education or intelligent design in public schools. One program explored the history of religious instruction in public schools, which gave a history of the landmark SCOTUS rulings that outlawed prayer and Bible readings in public school. He says he has produced two episodes that have relied heavily on the experience that he gathered from his Spencer project, which involved tracking more than 50 years of curriculum battles in Texas. Three episodes have featured his Spencer mentor, Jonathan Zimmerman, who is now on the UPenn faculty. One episode featured his fellow Spencer Fellow Greg Toppo speaking about the future of Common Core in the Trump/DeVos Era.
Pat Wingert—A former Newsweek education writer, Wingert used her fellowship to write “Making a Better Science Teacher” for Scientific American. Since her fellowship, she has freelanced for a number of national publications and The Hechinger Report.
Linda Shaw—Shaw came to the fellowship as 20-year veteran education reporter from The Seattle Times and returned to become education editor in 2014. As a result of her fellowship, she produced a series in the Times on the politics of teacher evaluations. She is a member of the journalist advisory board of the Education Writers Association.
Liz Bowie—Bowie currently writes about state and local education issues for The Baltimore Sun. Since joining The Sun in 1986, she has covered environment, business and state government, but for the past 15 years she has focused on education. As a result of her fellowship, she produced a series for the Sun on Advanced Placement test reform in Maryland. Bowie has gone on to produce ambitious reporting for the paper on immigrant education.
Ann Hulbert—As a result of her project, Hulbert wrote a piece for the Atlantic magazine called “How to Escape the Community College Trap.” She emerged from the fellowship to become the Atlantic’s literary editor where she has edited many pieces by former Spencer Fellows, including Sarah Carr, Sara Mosle and Elizabeth Green.
Heather Vogell—Vogell is currently an investigative reporter at ProPublica. Prior to her fellowship year, she was a reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where her work on test cheating in the public school system resulted in the indictments of the superintendent and 34 others. For her project, she produced a series in the Journal Constitution on the testing industry.
Jamaal Abdul-Alim is a freelance journalist and a Washington correspondent for Diverse Issues in Higher Education. His articles have appeared in Education Week, Washington Monthly, and U.S. News & World Report. Abdul-Alim is also a chess journalist whose articles regularly appear in Chess Life Magazine and Chess Life Online. He is a former staff writer for Youth Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and a 2008 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. As a Spencer Education Journalism fellow, Abdul-Alim explored the impact of various efforts to hold teacher preparation programs more accountable for student achievement.
Annie Murphy Paul—A freelance science and education writer, Paul has written for many national publications. Her fellowship project included research on measuring student learning in higher education. She is the author of The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves.
Lauren Smith Camera—Camera is currently an education reporter at U.S. News & World Report, where her work investigating education data has created a stir. She’s covered education policy and politics for nearly a decade and has written for Education Week, The Hechinger Report, Congressional Quarterly, Roll Call, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. For her fellowship, she conducted a reporting project about the impact of the Obama administration’s competitive education grant, Race to the Top that was published in Education Week and a series on the Common Core in Tennessee that was published by The Hechinger Report.
Linda Lutton—As an education reporter for WBEZ in Chicago, Lutton covers schools, education and issues affecting youth. Her work has been broadcast on This American Life, Re:sound, Marketplace, The World, and NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She’s received many honors, including a 2014 Peabody Award. For her fellowship project, she produced an hour-long radio documentary for public radio on poverty and Chicago schools called “The View from Room 205.”
Mitra Kalita is senior vice president for news, opinion and programming for CNN Digital. Kalita leads the national news desk and efforts to creatively share CNN’s journalism and storytelling across an ever-exploding array of platforms. Prior to this appointment, she served as managing editor at the Los Angeles Times. Before Kalita’s Spencer Fellowship year, she was the ideas editor at Quartz. She worked previously at The Wall Street Journal, where she oversaw coverage of the Great Recession, launched a local news section for New York City and, most recently, reported on the housing crisis. She also launched Mint, a business paper in New Delhi, and has previously worked for the Washington Post, Newsday and the Associated Press. She spent her Spencer Fellowship reporting a book on school choice through the lens of one New York City neighborhood. Her reporting took her to Ferguson, Missouri to examine the aftermath of the police shooting.
Joy Resmovits—Resmovits serves as education editor for the Seattle Times. She moved there from Los Angeles where she had worked as education reporter for the Los Angeles Times, a position she took under the direction of Mitra Kalita, her Spencer colleague. Before the fellowship, she spent four years as the Huffington Post’s education reporter. Her writing previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Forward and The New York Daily News. She serves on the board of trustees for the Columbia Daily Spectator and the Education Writers Association’s journalist advisory board. Her fellowship project is a book on special education.
Erin Richards— After her fellowship year, Richards returned to cover K-12 education in urban and suburban Milwaukee, as well as state politics related to education issues for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. She studied the private-school choice movement for her fellowship and is currently working on a book about the re-definition of the traditional American family: A true story of a gay Milwaukee school teacher who adopted his student and helped the boy chase his dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Her story on Milwaukee’s failed voucher experiment supported by the fellowship appeared in the American Prospect. She went on to cover vouchers nationwide when she returned to Milwaukee. Richards was selected as a fellow with the O’Brien Fellowship for Public Service Journalism to work on a national series on the consequences of chronic transferring. Richards is currently the national education enterprise reporter at USA Today.
Vanessa Romo—Romo currently works as a political reporter for NPR in Washington, D.C., where she covers the intersection of politics and pop culture and writes radio stories about the impact of the two on people in and around the country. Recent stories included the predicted voting habits of the post-millennial generation, the rise of “Auntie Maxine Waters as a septaugenarian pop culture icon, California Republicans fleeing to Texas in order to form their own conservative communities, and DACA quinceaneras as Trump-protests. For her fellowship project, Romo explored the connection between language, culture and the achievement gap among Spanish-speaking children and others through the lens of initiatives in Los Angeles.
Sara Mosle—Mosle’s Spencer project was recently published on the cover of the September 18, 2018 New York Times Magazine, called “Can Teaching be Taught?” about the reforms in Georgia. Mosle taught for many years in a charter school in Newark, N.J. Her freelance work has been published in many national outlets, including The New York Times and The New Yorker. Last spring, she taught a course on covering education at Columbia Journalism School with last-years’ fellow, Nick Chiles. She returned from the fellowship to become the top NY bureau editor at Chalkbeat.org New York, working with Elizabeth Green, Patrick Wall, and many other former Spencers.
Fabio Takahashi— Takahashi was the first international Spencer Fellow. An education reporter for Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper in Brazil, he published his fellowship project about Common Core as a long form story in the newspaper in May. He is currently coordinating the new data journalism team at Folha and is also the acting president of the Brazilian Education Writers Association. The founder of the organization called JEDUCA, Associaçao de jornalistas de educaçao, is Spencer Fellow Antonio Gois.
Jo Napolitano—Napolitano was recently awarded a contract at Beacon Press for her fellowship-supported work on immigrant education. The book tentatively titled, The Case Against Kids: How Six Young Refugees Fought for Equality in the Trump Era, tracks the progress of new immigrant children as they relocate from Syria and other locations to suburban and rural America. It is expected to be published by Beacon Press in 2021.
Patrick Wall—Wall worked as the New York editor at ChalkbeatNY.com before his Spencer year. He returned to take up the mantle again when the fellowship ended, and was then tapped to launch the Chalkbeat bureau in Newark, NJ, which he now directs. His Spencer project, on school segregation and school choice in New York City, was published in the Atlantic earlier this year.
Jill Barshay—Barshay currently writes a column on learning and technology for The Hechinger Project. She is working on a book about big data and education that grew out of her fellowship research. Barshay recently produced an in depth podcast with American Public Media Reports called “Under a Watchful Eye,” about how colleges are using predictive analytics to help students graduate. It’s an ongoing project about how big data is used to reshape the college experience.
Antonio Gois—Gois returned to Rio de Janeiro as education editor/writer for O Globo, Brazil’s largest news organization. His book on school leadership in North and South America developed with the fellowship is expected to be published soon in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Together with Fabio Takahashi, Gois has continued to build the JEDUCA, or Journalismo de Educacao network of Brazilian education reporters, which has quickly grown to over 400 members. The keynote speaker for their first national conference in August, 2018 was former Spencer fellow and current board member, Greg Toppo. Hancock spoke at the second conference, August 2019.
Nicholas Chiles—Chiles continues his research that takes an historical dive into the political, social, judicial influences on the educational neglect of black boys in America, with the intent of writing a book. He is working as a freelance writer for The Hechinger Report and Ebony Magazine. Chiles teaches a journalism class at Princeton University, and serves on the Atlanta, Georgia school board.
Cara Fitzpatrick—Fitzpatrick won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for her investigative series called “Failure Factories,” about the rapid decline of Pinellas County schools for the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. She left her position at the Tampa Bay Times to study with the fellowship last year, and will continue her freelance career in New York City this year as a visiting journalist with the Russell Sage Foundation. She is deep into her book project on the six-decade history of school vouchers in America, which is in the final stages of securing a publisher.
Audrey Watters—Watters, a freelance writer and founder of the influential Hack Education site, is continuing to develop her extensive data research project on the network of education technology venture capitalists, with the goal of making her data available to educators and journalists. The data allows public access in order to trace the historical, political and financial connections among companies and education technology funders. Her work so far makes groundbreaking connections between the Silicon Valley investor network and its influence on teaching, learning, as well as on the narrative advanced by the media on the future of public schools.
Watters’ magazine piece on the shape and power of the technology network was published in the 2018 fall edition of The Baffler.
In addition, Watters has completed the first chapter of Teaching Machines, her book with MIT Press on the history of education technology in the twentieth century and the development of early teaching machines by education psychologists.
Kalyn Belsha came to the fellowship as a policy reporter with the Chicago Reporter and spent her fellowship year investigating the growing exodus of black families from Chicago to other cities in the South and the Midwest. She is preparing a multi-part, multimedia series that will include a radio documentary and data visualization along with longform print documenting the lives of several black families to be published over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year. She returned to Chicago to work as Midwest education correspondent for the national desk of Chalkbeat.
Emmanuel Felton came to the fellowship as a senior writer at The Hechinge rReport to investigate the decades-long promises of the METCO desegregation policy in the Boston suburban area. His book proposal has generated interest among NY and California publishing houses. Emmanuel was recently hired as part of the BuzzFeed investigations team to help shape race coverage at the news organization.
Kyle Spencer, a New York-based freelance education reporter for the New York Times, Frontline, and Politico among other publications, completed her book proposal during her Spencer year tentatively called Raising Them Right, a book that explores the Far Right’s strategic efforts to mobilize a conservative youth movement on the nation’s college campuses. She is close to signing with a publisher.
Alexandra Fuenmayor Starr, a Venezuelan-American freelancer, produced and aired her Spencer-supported work on mandatory third grade literacy with NPR in June, 2019. Her WNYC podcast on the city’s efforts to revamp English Language Learner education will be aired in the fall of 2019. Starr continues to write and produce stories on immigration and education that have appeared in Harper’s The New York Times Magazine, Slate, The New Republic, New York Magazine and The American Scholar.
Beenish Ahmed, a Pakistani-American reporter and writer, is currently covering education inequality for WNYC Radio. Her journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers, Atlantic, and NPR. Her fellowship year will be devoted to reporting on affirmative action in higher education, connecting the desegregation policies on the local K-12 level.
Samantha Hernandez has covered rural education and the courts for the Green Bay Wisconsin Press-Gazette for several years. Her Spencer project will focus on the funding gaps between rural and city districts.
Benjamin Herold is currently a technology reporter for Education Week, who previously covered the Philadelphia school district for WHYY public radio and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. Herold’s project will focus on the changing face of opportunity in America’s suburban school districts.
Casey Parks, formerly a reporter for the Jackson Mississippi Free Press and The Oregonian, is currently a staff reporter for The HechingerReport.org where her stories on Louisiana schools prompted the state to repeal its ban on immigrant students playing high school sports. In addition, her story on an historical black college in Louisiana appeared in the New Yorker. Parks plans to spend her Fellowship year reporting on rural education in the Mississippi Delta.
Thirty-six fellows have completed the Spencer Fellowship since it launched in 2008-2009. Four more fellows are expected to complete their certification in 2020, bringing the total to 40. So far the fellows’ published work has included 17 books either published or in-progress, four hour-long public radio documentaries, 10 national magazine pieces, two podcasts and seven significant newspaper series. Among the 40 fellows are five Latinos, three African Americans, two Southeast Asians, and two Brazilians. They have come from the metropolitan area, as well as from Seattle, Chicago, Wisconsin, Florida, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Washington D.C. The vast majority, nearly 80 percent, are working as education journalists, many in positions of leadership.
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