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Resource ID: #28172
Subject: Education
Source: National Public Radio
Affiliation: 
Date: March - December 2018

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Description

NPR's Chris Arnold and Cory Turner started digging into a Department of Education grant program after spotting a brief mention in a broader lawsuit. What they uncovered was shocking: a program gone horribly wrong for thousands of public school teachers. "It's ridiculous; it's mind-boggling. It's been two years of torture," was how teacher Kaitlyn McCollum of Columbia, Tenn described it. It wasn't supposed to be this way. The program has a noble goal - to encourage aspiring young teachers like McCollum to work in the nation's most disadvantaged communities. They agree to teach a high-need subject, like math, for four years in a public school serving low income families. In return, they get grants to pay for their own education. But the reporters found that's not how it worked out at all. Thousands of teachers had their grants unfairly converted to loans due to a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education - leaving some bearing the burden of more than $20,000 in debt. Cory and Chris' work not only exposed the program's brutal inflexibility and it's devastating impact on the lives of teachers; their seven stories, reported over the previous ten months, convinced the Department to offer teachers a dramatic fix. As a result of their reporting, the Education Department is now reaching out to thousands of teachers to return millions of dollars of grant money that was unfairly taken away from them.

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