The documentary unit of APM Reports (formerly American RadioWorks) has produced more than 140 programs on topics such as health, history, education and justice.
Introducing: Sold a Story
Emily Hanford introduces the first episode of her new podcast, Sold a Story.
There's an idea about how children learn to read that's held sway in schools for more than a generation — even though it was proven wrong by cognitive scientists decades ago. Teaching methods based on this idea can make it harder for children to learn how to read. In this podcast, Hanford investigates the influential authors who promote this idea and the company that sells their work. It's an exposé of how educators came to believe in something that isn't true and are now reckoning with the consequences — children harmed, money wasted, an education system upended.
No Excuses: Race and Reckoning at a Chicago Charter School
Producer DJ Cashmere spent seven years teaching Black and brown students at a Noble Street charter high school in Chicago. At the time, Noble followed a popular model called "no excuses." Its schools required strict discipline but promised low-income students a better shot at college. After DJ left the classroom to become a journalist, Noble disavowed its own policies — calling them "assimilationist, patriarchal, white supremacist, and anti-black." In this hour, DJ, who is white, revisits his old school as it tries to reinvent itself as an anti-racist institution. And he seeks out his former students to ask them how they felt about being on the receiving end of all that education reform, and what they think now about the time they spent in his classroom.
Standing in Two Worlds: Native American College Diaries
Native American students are just a tiny fraction of all the college students in the United States. They come with different histories, confronting an education system once used to erase their languages and cultures. In this project, three Indigenous college students tell how they are using higher education to strengthen ties to their Native roots and support their people.
Photos: See portraits of the students in this documentary
In Deep: One City's Year of Climate Chaos
Most scientists believe climate change is increasing the severity of the storms we experience, and how quickly they intensify. After suffering two hurricanes, a winter storm, and devastating flooding in less than a year, Lake Charles, Louisiana, offers a troubling view of the wrenching, disturbingly inequitable effects of climate change.
In Deep: One City’s Year of Climate Chaos offers a rich journalistic portrait of a working-class city and its residents at a perilous moment in our planet’s existence.
Read the story.
Under Pressure: The College Mental Health Crisis
Even before the pandemic, campus counselling services were reporting a marked uptick in the number of students with anxiety, clinical depression and other serious psychiatric problems. What is a college’s responsibility for helping students navigate mental health challenges, and how well are colleges rising to the task?
Read more: Inside the college mental health crisis
Who Wants to Be a Teacher?
Many schools around the country are struggling to find enough teachers. Large numbers of teachers quit after a short time on the job, so schools are constantly struggling to replace them. The problem is particularly acute at rural schools and urban schools. The most common level of experience of teachers in the United States now is one year on the job.
At the same time, enrollment in teacher training programs at colleges and universities is plummeting, and schools are looking to other sources to fill classrooms.
In Nevada, a desperate need for teachers this year led to allowing people with just a high school diploma to fill in as substitutes. Oklahoma recently changed its law to allow people with a bachelor’s degree — in anything — to teach indefinitely on emergency teaching certificates. Schools in Texas are increasingly turning to for-profit teacher training programs.
Data we obtained shows that nearly one in four of the teachers hired in Texas last year came through a single for-profit online program — one that’s now making its way into other states. We’ll look at the implications of these changes, both for children and for the teaching force.
Read more: Texas company fuels rise of for-profit teacher training programs
Hard to Read (Sold a Story)
I absolutely loved the Sold a Story podcast and it has echoed my beliefs as a Special Educator of 26 years. I was taught direct instruction in graduate school and have practiced since then with excellent results.
While I enjoyed Emily Hanford’s reporting in Sold a Story, I was disappointed in the reporting on Hard to Read. Specifically, I am disappointed in her understanding of special education law and practices. For a child to qualify for special education services they must have a disability AND that disability needs to impact their ability to access the general education curriculum AND need specially designed instruction in order to make progress. While the family that was reported on had a diagnosis of dyslexia, the school looked into that child’s current level of performance and determined that they were earning A’s and B’s. The fact that the child is able to access the curriculum without specially designed instruction indicates that it is not a Specific Learning Disability. Therefore, the child is not a student that requires an IEP.
Thank you so much Emily for creating this podcast. It has been eye opening and reassuring that as a parent I’m not alone. Thank you for bringing light to this subject. I hope district leaders will listen, reflect, and begin to shift curriculum to an approach based on scientific research so that all children can be successful in their literacy journey.
Thank you Lauren Brown for sharing your and other Black students’ experiences at Mizzou. May it inspire us all do (much) better.