Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "education reform" ...

  • Investigation of charter school operator

    For years, Dr. Michael Sharpe was among the most prominent charter school leaders in Connecticut, collecting millions of dollars from lawmakers eager to embrace school reform, and harboring big plans to expand his already growing empire beyond the state’s borders. Today, that empire has collapsed, following deep and aggressive reporting by a team of Hartford Courant reporters who revealed that Sharpe had a felony conviction for financial fraud, had no doctoral degree despite calling himself “Dr.,” had misused state grant money and had turned his Jumoke Academy charter school into a den of nepotism and financial conflicts of interest. As the stories unfolded, Sharpe and his entire leadership team were forced out, and investigations were launched by the state Department of Education and the FBI, which is currently presenting evidence to a federal grand jury.
  • Louisiana's Education Reform: A Leap of Faith

    Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, State Superintendent John White and a carefully chosen state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education wanted agressive change in public education and they were willing to do anything to make it happen. They financed campaigns, lobbied legislators, and ignored the input of educators who said the plans wouldn't work. But, they couldn't ignore Barbara Leader, a reporter for a small newspaper 200 miles away from the state capital who, one story at a time, revealed flaw after flaw and got the attention of the entire state. State officials threatened Leader and attempted to prevent publication of article after article. Through this series, Leader established our paper and herself as a credible source for education news and gained a statewide reputation for being tenacious and fearless.
  • The Hidden Costs of Tenure

    This project is an in-depth look at public school teacher tenure in Illinois, 20 years after lawmakers passed an education reform package designed to make it easier to dismiss underperforming teachers. The investigation found that it is still incredibly hard for schools to fire tenured teachers, and as a result some teachers are doing a poor job.
  • Does Class Size Matter?

    Reducing class size is the big trend in education reform. The question is does it work? Because if it doesn't it could be one of the most expensive policy failures ever. If it does work, the nation could reap the benefits for generations.
  • None of the Above

    The New York Times reports that the standardized testing industry is coming off its three most problem-plagued years. Its missteps have affected millions of students who took standardized proficiency tests in at least 20 states. Despite these problems, President Bush is proposing a 50 percent increase in the workload of this tiny industry. Neither the proposal by the President nor the Congressional debate has addressed whether the industry can handle the daunting logistics of this additional business. This two part story examines the problems that currently exist in the testing industry and cites specific examples of scoring errors by the industry.
  • CSAP Only a Test

    This investigation consisted of a computer-assisted analysis of the Colorado Student Assessment Program. It shows that the test scores alone are not an accurate way to compare the academic excellence of area schools. Those scores are "at the heart of education reform in Colorado."
  • Bad Apples

    The American Prospect reports how "Everyone has had a 'bad' teacher. Incompetent, unfeeling, or maybe just aggressively uninspiring, the occasional bad teacher is as much a fixture in America's schools as lousy cafeteria food and detention hall. Critics regard the presence of bad teachers as confirmation of their worst fears about public education - namely, that some combination of union contracts, tenure, civil service protections, litigation-wary administrators, and general institutional inertia are getting in the way of child's learning. (Some examples) have now become part of a considerable arsenal of anecdotal evidence that suggests even flagrant incompetents are hard to fire. (But other examples) suggest a more complex story... Is it a cautionary tale about how the 'age of accountability' in education reform has made all teachers -- even inspired ones -- vulnerable and gun-shy, serving as scapegoats for our collective discontent about the state of public education?"
  • Guinea kids: Arizona's charter schools experiment

    Tribune series finds that Arizona's charter school movement, though only four years old, has experienced big problems. People with criminal backgrounds and little education are teaching, schools are closing from financial mismanagement and the charter schools, which are supposed to held more accountable than public schools, are actually less accountable.
  • Money and Influence: Inside the Thompson Administration

    During his record tenure of 11 years as governor of Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson gained enduring popularity among voters and a burgeoning national reputation as a conservative welfare and education reformer. But over the course of an eight-month investigation, reporters found Thompson's administration had consistently rewarded donors, maintained overly close ties with favored firms and played insider politics with a tightly knit shadow government group of business allies. the articles also showed how donation were raised by Thompson's top aide for the national Republican Party from firms with business before the state.
  • Education: Money isn't everything

    Wall Street Journal finds that the relevant questions in education reform are curricular and structural, not budgetary.