Education and Child Welfare

An investigation by Oklahoma Watch revealed that the largest virtual charter school in the state had allowed, encouraged and pressured teachers to manipulate student enrollment to inflate the school's accountability score and unlock teacher bonus pay. Shortly afterward, state investigators filed a search warrant affidavit detailing evidence of alleged fraud and embezzlement at Epic Charter Schools. Read the Story »

The Hechinger Report investigated for-profit schools offering professional certificates and found many of them promise great jobs and placement assistance, but often leave students deep in debt and unqualified for the jobs they're seeking. The day one story ran, Massachusetts ordered the college it profiled to cease operations. Read the Story »

South Dakota News Watch exposed dangerous conditions within a privately run youth home,  prompting the governor to order an overhaul of the oversight and inspection processes for all youth treatment facilities in the state. Residents described being beaten, sexually abused and psychologically intimidated by some staff members. Read the Story »

The Crime Report highlighted the plight of thousands of Native American children who are overrepresented in foster care at nearly three times the rate of the general population. The report profiled Brian Melendez, who has turned the abuses he suffered in the system into an effort to help native youth. Read the Story »

Brian Melendez. Photo courtesy of Brian Melendez


The Chronicle of Social Change visited a community in Iowa that has been deeply affected by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to report on the significance of the law. Recounting the 16th annual march to remember Native children lost to foster care, the story explained the concerns of march founder Frank LaMere about protecting the law from a challenge in federal court. The case remained unresolved when LaMere died in June 2019. Read the Story »

A Chalkbeat analysis of state data found a hidden dropout crisis in Indiana. Of the roughly 3,700 Indiana high school students in the class of 2018 officially recorded as leaving to home-school, more than half were concentrated in 61 of the state’s 507 high schools. While dropouts drive down graduation rates, students who leave to home-school simply disappear from the tally. Those striking numbers suggest that Indiana’s lax regulation of home schooling and its method for calculating graduation rates are masking the extent of many schools’ dropout problems. Read the Story »

"Growing Up Through the Cracks" is an ambitious multiyear series that examines child poverty in the Pittsburgh region. The Economic Hardship Reporting Project enabled children's book illustrator Stacy Innerst to use powerful graphic reportage to enliven the stories of struggling kids. Publication by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and distribution by The Associated Press gave the series a significant audience. Read the Story »

Illustration credit: Stacy Innerst


The “Since Parkland” project recruited more than 200 teen reporters in 25 states to profile nearly 1,200 American children killed by guns during a 12-month span. Produced by The Trace in partnership with the Miami Herald and McClatchy newspapers, it indelibly conveyed an important truth to an audience topping 10 million readers and viewers: The problem of gun violence extends far beyond mass shootings, and falls hardest on families of color. Read the Stories »

Idaho Education News published a series on how poverty affects learning and achieving — and on how the adverse trend can be broken. With the support of a Solutions Journalism Network grant, reporters traveled to high-poverty, high-performing schools in Montana, Washington, Nevada and Idaho to examine what they are doing differently to produce successful outcomes. Read the Stories »

Why would a 10-year-old come home from school bruised and dazed? An investigation by Searchlight New Mexico revealed that teachers and school security officers routinely manhandle kids in New Mexico grade schools, which hide the incidents from parents. In Albuquerque, the state’s largest school system, rough treatment is disproportionately high for students with disabilities. The story led to a public forum and put the issue onto the legislative agenda. Read the Story »

Mississippi Today examined the state's critical teacher shortage and community responses to the problem. During the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers introduced 19 bills to address various aspects of the teacher shortage highlighted in the reporting done in partnership with the Hechinger Report. Read the Story »

Edward Hawkins watches his class as they take a math test at West Bolivar High School Monday, October 29, 2018. Photo Credit: Eric J. Shelton/ Mississippi Today/Report for America


Open Campus spent eight days traveling 1,500 miles to learn about what’s fueling Americans’ negative feelings and skepticism about colleges. People in communities from Minneapolis to New Orleans said they saw higher education as a game, as disconnected from their practical needs, and as an enclave of liberalism. Some said higher ed had changed their lives. The road trip captured voices largely missing from the national conversation. Read the Story »

A first-of-its-kind, data-intensive look at concussions at all public high schools in Oregon by  InvestigateWest and Pamplin Media Group revealed inequities between urban and rural schools and more injuries among girls than boys. The reporters encountered stonewalling — many of the 235 schools contacted for two years' worth of records demurred or charged big fees (more than $7,000). Read the Story »

EdSource in California explored how chronic absenteeism is especially acute in the state’s rural school districts. The report showed the educational divide using statistics, an interactive map and the stories of students who fall behind and drop out. A devastating, killer wildfire magnified the problem in Paradise, driving officials to design new approaches to get students to school. Read the Story »

Photo credit: Julie Leopo for EdSource


Rochester, N.Y., has one of the worst-performing school districts in the nation. After a state study identified 88 areas in which the district must improve to avoid a state takeover, the Rochester Beacon found the district board ill-equiped to deal with the issues raised. Read the Story »