23/04/14 at 5:16 pm
Alexandra Hootnick (Stabile ’12) began looking into Teach for America (TFA) while working on her master’s project. She was herself a TFA alumna and was interested in looking deeper into how the multimillion-dollar nonprofit operated.
This week, The Nation magazine published the results of her investigation. “Teachers Are Losing Their Jobs, But Teach for America’s Expanding. What’s Wrong With That?” examines the 24-year old organization’s expansion into areas beyond its traditional mandate – poor, disadvantaged school districts that sorely needed teachers – and the problems that raised for the organization as a whole and for the relatively affluent places it is now working in.
TFA was originally founded to send young college graduates toimpoverished parts of the country to teach primarily disadvantaged children. “Like the Peace Corps, TFA is a résumé booster,” Hootnick wrote, ”and its alumni have gone on to successful careers from the White House to Wall Street.”
Hootnick traveled to Seattle with support from the Stabile Center. She found that the city was not facing a teacher shortage when Teach for America came in 2009. The school district, however, was facing a $25-million deficit. Yet it decided to enter into a contract with TFA, paying $4,000 for each recruit. That contract generated a great deal of controversy. Moreover, most of the teacher-recurits didn’t end up serving in needy areas.
The story raised questions about TFA’s evolution, the tax subsidies it gets to fulfill its now-revised mandate, the qualifications of its recruits and its lobbying activities. It looked at TFA’s growing clout.
“Although its corps represents less than 0.5 percent of the nation’s 3.3 million public school teachers, TFA has evolved into a political powerhouse, with net assets totaling $419 million,” Hootnick wrote. “Between 2008 and 2012, when education spending hit the recession’s rock bottom, the organization generated revenues topping $1.1 billion from both government and private sources seeking to invest in K–12 reform.”Full Story
Every year, the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) gives out awards for outstanding investigative work in various media. Three alumni of the Stabile Center were recipients of this year’s awards: Ellen Gabler (Class of ’07), Robin Respaut (Class of ’11), and Mar Cabra (Class of ’10).
Gabler, assistant editor at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s investigative team, was the lead reporter for a series of stories about delays in newborn screening that led to deaths of infants. That series was awarded the IRE Prize in the multiplatform, medium category.
Respaut works for the Thompson-Reuters enterprise desk and was part of the team that uncovered an online exchange for unwanted adopted children. That project, called The Child Exchange, was the winner in the large print/online category, tying with The Guardian’s investigation of the National Security Agency.
Mar Cabra worked with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ exposé of the hidden world of offshore companies, which was a winner in the multiplatform, large category.Full Story
Ellen Gabler, a student in the inaugural Stabile class of 2007, led a team of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters that won the 2014 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting.
Gabler and her colleagues – Mark Johnson, John Fauber, Allan James Vestal and Kristyna Wentz-Graff – were recognized for their special report on the sometimes fatal consequences of delayed tests to screen newborns for genetic disorders. The $35,000 annual award has been presented for the past 25 years by the School of Journalism at USC Annenberg and honors the year’s outstanding work in investigative journalism that led to direct results.
The “Deadly Delays” series found that thousands of hospitals — and dozens of state agencies that oversee newborn screening programs — were putting babies an risk because of an ineffective and unaccountable system. Gabler was the lead reporter for the project, which analyzed newborn screening tests and found that hundreds of thousands of blood samples from newborn babies arrived late at labs where they are to be tested.
On Wednesday, Colombia’s most prestigious journalism prize, the Premio Simon Bolivar, gave Nadja Drost (Stabile ’08) the award for best radio documentary, a 15-minute piece that focuses on a little-known Colombian town.
Here’s how Radio Ambulante, a Spanish-language Internet radio program, introduced Nadja Drost’s prizewinning radio documentary:
“Colombia’s rivers have long been a dumping ground for bodies. In one town, people pull them from the water and give them a proper burial. But the story doesn’t end there. Nadja Drost traveled to Puerto Berrio to investigate the town’s strange relationship to the nameless dead.”Full Story
Reservists and National Guard members returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan are finding that the jobs they hoped would waiting for them upon their homecoming are no longer there.
Christopher Harress began looking into this issue while enrolled in the Stabile program last year. He found that since 9/11, more than 660,000 National Guard members and reservists have been deployed to fight in the country’s war on terror.
But, as he wrote in a story published last month by the International Business Times:
When they came home, they expected to pick up life where they had left off. A law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, or USERRA, was supposed to help ensure that happened.
The law is intended to protect members of the Reserve and National Guard from employment discrimination — primarily, to ensure they keep the jobs they held before they were deployed. Employers are supposed to make concessions to ensure this happens, and in many cases the burden is heavy. At any moment, a member of the Reserve or Guard can be deployed for as long as two years.Full Story
This week, Wired Magazine featured the astonishing story of David Anthony Whittaker, a convicted con man who pulled off a federal sting that got Google to pay the Department of Justice a $500-million fine. The story was written by Jake Pearson, from the Stabile class of 2009, who began following the global trail of online pharmacies as part of a project for the Stabile investigative seminar.
Pearson kept abreast with the topic even after graduation and remained in touch government investigators looking into how these pharmacies were freely selling counterfeit, substandard or restricted drugs. Pearson’s class produced a website, Behind Online Pharma, and published an article in the Huffington Post that described how Google was making millions from online ads that encouraged readers to buy restricted drugs through online drugstores that didn’t demand prescriptions as required by law.Full Story