NPR: Eric Westervelt

NPR foreign correspondent Eric Westervelt recently wrapped up a multi-year assignment in the Middle East covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He took up his new position as a Berlin-based European Correspondent for NPR in May 2009.

Westervelt has reported on conflicts and their repercussions across the Middle East region for NPR, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the second Lebanon war between Hezbollah and Israel, and the on going Palestinian-Israel conflict, including fighting in the Gaza Strip ranging from internal Palestinian violence to multiple Israeli offensives in the territory. He reported in-depth on issues across the occupied West Bank and Israel. He has also reported from the Horn of Africa, Yemen and the Persian Gulf region.

Westervelt reported on the war in Iraq from the initial US-led ground invasion in 2003, traveling with the lead unit of the Army's Third Infantry Division. He later helped cover the insurgency; sectarian violence; and the on-going struggle rebuild the country in the post Saddam Hussein-era.

Westervelt's coverage at home and abroad has helped NPR win broadcast journalism's highest honors, including contributions to a 2002 George Foster Peabody Award to NPR for coverage of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the US and its aftermath; a 2003 Alfred I. DuPont - Columbia University award for NPR's coverage of 9-11 and the war in Afghanistan; as well as duPont-Columbia University top honors again in 2004 and again in 2007 for NPR's coverage of the war in Iraq and affect on Iraqi society, among other awards.

Westervelt's reports are heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and NPR's hourly newscasts, and appear online at npr.org

Prior to his Middle East assignment, Westervelt covered military affairs for NPR News reporting on a wide range of defense, national security and foreign policy issues. Before that Westervelt reported for NPR's National Desk, covering some of the biggest stories in recently memory, including the shootings at Columbine High School, the explosion of TWA flight 800 and the Florida presidential recount. For the National Desk Westervelt also reported on national trends in law enforcement and crime fighting, including police tactics, use of force, the drug war, racial profiling and the legal and political battles over firearms in America. Westervelt's work on the National Desk also contributed to another Peabody Award for an NPR series on the most influential American musical works of the 20th Century.

Before joining NPR, Westervelt worked as a reporter in Oregon and a news director and reporter in New Hampshire and reported for Monitor Radio, the broadcast edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

Westervelt is a graduate of the Putney School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He and his wife Lisa currently live in Germany.

Pages

3:42am

Wed December 17, 2014
NPR Ed

An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: 'Circle Up!'

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 9:27 am

A restorative justice circle at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif.
Sam Pasarow/Edna Brewer Middle School

One by one, in a room just off the gym floor at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif., seventh-graders go on the interview hot seat.

Some 80 students have applied to be "peer leaders" in the school's new, alternative discipline program called "restorative justice."

Kyle McClerkins, the program's director, grills them on aspects of adolescent life: "What is the biggest challenge for middle school girls? What has changed about you from sixth grade to now?"

Read more

4:48am

Mon December 1, 2014
NPR Ed

Teach For America At 25: With Maturity, New Pressure To Change

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:54 pm

TFA at 25 years (from left): Matt Kramer, current co-CEO; Wendy Kopp, founder; Elisa Villanueva Beard, current co-CEO.
Courtesy of TFA

This story was reported for the radio by Eric Westervelt and for online by Anya Kamenetz.

"We, the Committee of Public Safety, find Jean Valjean guilty. The sentence is death by guillotine!"

Molly McPherson, a redhead with glasses, is dressed in a blue bathrobe — in costume as Robespierre. Her seventh-graders are re-enacting the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, with a little assist from Les Miserables.

Read more

3:46am

Thu November 20, 2014
NPR Ed

Are NOLA Schools Failing Students With Disabilities?

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 9:28 am

LA Johnson/NPR

In New Orleans, schools have long struggled to provide for students with physical, emotional and mental disabilities. Even before Hurricane Katrina, many parents had to fight for extra help. But many say things have only gotten harder since the city's public school district shifted almost entirely to charter schools.

Read more

8:08am

Fri November 7, 2014
NPR Ed

Pythagoras' iPhone: Is Listening A Lost Classroom Art?

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 1:46 pm

Maryann Wolfe talks with Mawi Fasil during her AP American government class at Oakland Technical High School.
Elissa Nadworny NPR

Listen and learn, the saying goes.

But are students and teachers these days fully listening to each other?

What, exactly, is good listening, and why does it matter when it comes to learning? Is "close listening" a doorway to understanding that too many of us are keeping only half-open?

Read more

5:00am

Wed October 29, 2014
NPR Ed

50 Great Teachers: Socrates, The Ancient World's Teaching Superstar

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 1:45 pm

LA Johnson/NPR

Today, NPR Ed kicks off a yearlong series: 50 Great Teachers.

We're starting this celebration of teaching with Socrates, the superstar teacher of the ancient world. He was sentenced to death more than 2,400 years ago for "impiety" and "corrupting" the minds of the youth of Athens.

But Socrates' ideas helped form the foundation of Western philosophy and the scientific method of inquiry. And his question-and-dialogue-based teaching style lives on in many classrooms as the Socratic method.

Read more

3:23am

Mon October 13, 2014
NPR Ed

A New Orleans Charter School Marches To Its Own Tune

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 9:42 am

Art projects like these anatomy murals are woven into the curriculum at the Homer Plessy Community Charter school in New Orleans.
Eric Westervelt/NPR

This year, NPR Ed is reporting on the dramatic changes in the New Orleans school system.

All startups face big hurdles. But when you're a startup school in one of America's poorest cities, without deep-pocket backers, the challenges are daunting.

Oscar Brown is a New Orleans native. He grew up in the Desire housing project, a little over a mile west of his current home in a neighborhood ravaged by the storm that struck nearly a decade ago.

Read more

4:38pm

Fri October 10, 2014
NPR Ed

Digital Natives, Except When It Comes To Textbooks

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 7:13 pm

iStockphoto

The spiral of destruction.

We're not talking about instability in the Middle East or Ebola.

We're talking textbooks.

Read more

8:43am

Sat September 6, 2014
NPR Ed

Q&A: Dana Goldstein, Author, 'The Teacher Wars'

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 1:26 pm

Dana Goldstein
Michael Lionstar Dana Goldstein

I recently came to the education beat after spending the better part of a decade as a foreign correspondent, mainly reporting on conflicts in the Middle East.

Shortly after turning in my Kevlar vest for chalk dust, I was struck by how intensely polarized the education reform debate is in America. I'd traded real mortar fire for the rhetorical kind: Man the barricades, incoming Common Core!

Which raises the question: How did we get here?

Read more

10:13am

Thu September 4, 2014
NPR Ed

The Myth Of The Superstar Superintendent?

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 8:01 am

LA Johnson/NPR

At corporations, leadership matters. A lot. Think of the impact of the late Steve Jobs at Apple or Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg today, to name a couple.

CEOs often play a vital role in bolstering a company's performance, image and culture of success. (Although studies show that obscenely high CEO compensation isn't always the best incentive.)

Read more

5:17pm

Sun July 27, 2014
Men In America

Lessons In Manhood: A Boys' School Turns Work Into Wonders

Originally published on Sun July 27, 2014 7:22 pm

At East Bay School for Boys, sometimes the sparks of inspiration result in, well, actual sparks.
Courtesy East Bay School for Boys

This summer, All Things Considered has been taking a look at the changing lives of men in America. And that means talking about how the country educates boys.

In Berkeley, Calif., a private, non-profit middle school called the East Bay School for Boys is trying to reimagine what it means to build confident young men. In some ways, the school's different approach starts with directing, not stifling, boys' frenetic energy.

Read more

5:14pm

Sun July 27, 2014
Iraq

Violence Spikes Anew In Iraq, As Islamic State Looks To Expand

Originally published on Sun July 27, 2014 7:23 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

Read more

8:03am

Fri July 11, 2014
NPR Ed

Q&A: A Union Leader On Tenure, Testing And The Common Core

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 10:12 am

Weingarten says people need to talk more about how to "attract, retain, support and nurture great teaching for kids at risk."
Shannon DeCelle AP

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is holding its annual convention in Los Angeles through this weekend. For the AFT's more than 3,500 national delegates descending on LA, there is a lot on their plate and big challenges ahead for the nation's second-largest teachers union: the Common Core, tenure and fierce debate about testing, to name a few.

Read more

8:03am

Thu July 10, 2014
NPR Ed

From Calif. Teachers, More Nuanced Views On Tenure

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 11:20 am

Julia Macias, a plaintiff and Los Angeles Unified School District middle school student, comments on the Vergara v. California lawsuit verdict in Los Angeles last month.
Damian Dovarganes AP

In the weeks since a California judge overturned the state's rules governing teacher tenure, the political noise has only grown louder. Advocates on both sides of the issues have largely stuck to "give-no-ground," press-release rhetoric that risks drowning out educators in the middle.

I've spoken with educators around the state since the ruling, including many who say they want protections but also real change.

Read more

4:15pm

Wed June 25, 2014
NPR Ed

Giving Boys A Bigger Emotional Toolbox

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 3:38 pm

Ashanti Branch, an assistant principal at Montera Middle School in Oakland, Calif., leads boys in a "check in" circle at his after-school Ever Forward Club.
Eric Westervelt NPR

This story is part of the "Men In America" series on All Things Considered.

Is America's dominant "man up" ethos a hypermasculine cultural construct, a tenet rooted in biological gender difference or something in between?

Educator Ashanti Branch doesn't much care or, more accurately, doesn't have time to care.

He's too busy trying to make a difference in boys' lives.

Read more

4:36pm

Wed June 11, 2014
NPR Ed

A High School Band Where Everyone's Voice Can Be Heard

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 7:53 pm

Adam Goldberg, the creator of the PS 177 band, conducting at band practice.
Eric Westervelt NPR

(This is Part 2 of a two-part report. Read the full piece here.)

On the surface, the PS 177 Technology Band looks like a typical high school orchestra. But there are two big differences. First, while they use traditional instruments, they also play iPads. And all of the band members have disabilities. Some have autism spectrum disorders.

"I'm Tobi Lakes. I'm 15 years old. I'm in ninth grade. I'm four grades away from college."

Read more

9:26am

Wed June 11, 2014
NPR Ed

iPads Allow Kids With Challenges To Play In High School Band

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 11:16 am

Tablet computers and a creative teacher have helped open doors for some kids with serious learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. The P.S. 177 Technology Band is in Queens, N.Y.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

6:57am

Wed June 11, 2014
Education

iPads Allow Kids With Challenges To Play In High School's Band

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 10:40 am

Jason Haughton sings an original tune composed by the PS 177 Technology Band.
Eric Westervelt NPR

There's a steady stream of hype surrounding the pluses and pitfalls of classroom tablet computers. But for a growing number of special education students tablets and their apps are proving transformative. The tablets aren't merely novel and fun. With guidance from creative teachers, they are helping to deepen engagement, communication, and creativity.

Read more

4:33pm

Tue June 10, 2014
NPR Ed

California Teacher Tenure Ruled Unconstitutional

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:31 pm

Attorneys Theodore Boutrous Jr. (far right) and Marcellus McRae are joined by California public school students who won their case against the state.
Nick Ut AP

A California judge today ruled the state's laws governing teacher tenure and the firing of public school teachers unconstitutional, saying they interfere with the state's obligation to provide every child with access to a good education.

The plaintiffs in the case, Vergara v. California, argued that the tenure system for public school teachers in California verges on the absurd, and that those laws disproportionately harm poor and minority students. In his ruling, Judge Rolf M. Treu agreed.

Read more

4:00pm

Wed May 14, 2014
Education

As More Speakers Get The Boot, Who's Left To Send Off Graduates?

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 7:59 pm

Several high-profile commencement speakers have resigned in the wake of student protests this graduation season.
iStockphoto

Graduation Season? More like Disinvitation Season.

As students across the country prepare for pomp and circumstance, college and university administrators are grappling with a series of commencement speech boondoggles.

This year alone, nearly a dozen big-name commencement speakers — including the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — have been invited to speak at graduation ceremonies, only to withdraw or have their invitations rescinded in the wake of campus protests.

Read more

5:23am

Wed April 23, 2014
Education

In Tulsa, Combining Preschool With Help For Parents

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 11:00 am

Shartara Wallace picks up her son James, 4, from preschool in Tulsa, Okla.
John W. Poole NPR

At preschools in Tulsa, Okla., teachers are well-educated and well-paid, and classrooms are focused on play, but are still challenging. One nonprofit in Tulsa, the Community Action Project, has flipped the script on preschool. The idea behind its Career Advance program is simple: To help kids, the group believes, you often have to help their parents.

Read more

5:03am

Wed April 23, 2014
Education

One Approach To Head Start: To Help Kids, Help Their Parents

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 11:08 am

Tiffany Contreras walks her daughter Kyndall, 4, to preschool at Disney Elementary in Tulsa, Okla.
John W. Poole NPR

President Obama has called repeatedly on Congress to help states pay for "high-quality preschool" for all. In fact, those two words — "high quality" — appear time and again in the president's prepared remarks. They are also a refrain among early childhood education advocates and researchers. But what do they mean? And what separates the best of the nation's preschool programs from the rest?

Read more

5:11am

Tue March 25, 2014
Education

Maze Of College Costs And Aid Programs Traps Some Families

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 12:11 pm

iStockphoto

In the past 20 years, the average burden for a four-year college graduate in the U.S. has gone from about $9,000 to nearly $30,000 today. The percentage of students carrying debt has shot up from less than half to nearly 70 percent these days.

At a large public high school in Freemont, Calif., southeast of San Francisco, Alyssa Tucker and Thao Le sit on a metal table. Both come from families with modest incomes.

Read more

3:29am

Tue February 18, 2014
Education

College Applicants Sweat The SATs. Perhaps They Shouldn't

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 5:26 pm

Standardized tests are an important consideration for admissions at many colleges and universities. But one new study shows that high school performance, not standardized test scores, is a better predictor of how students do in college.
Amriphoto iStockphoto

With spring fast approaching, many American high school seniors are now waiting anxiously to hear whether they got into the college or university of their choice. For many students, their scores on the SAT or the ACT will play a big role in where they get in.

That's because those standardized tests remain a central part in determining which students get accepted at many schools. But a first-of-its-kind study obtained by NPR raises questions about whether those tests are becoming obsolete.

Read more

3:39am

Mon February 17, 2014
All Tech Considered

A Push To Boost Computer Science Learning, Even At An Early Age

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 12:11 pm

Alex Tu, an advanced placement student, takes a computer science class in Midwest City, Okla. There's been a sharp decline in the number of computer science classes offered in U.S. secondary schools.
Sue Ogrocki AP

5:30am

Tue January 28, 2014
Education

Political Rivals Find Common Ground Over Common Core

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 12:25 pm

Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del., has begun implementing the national Common Core State Standards for academics. The GOP largely backs the standards that are rolling out in 45 states, but Tea Party conservatives have been critical — and liberals increasingly have the same complaints.
Steve Ruark AP

Supporters of the new Common Core education standards adopted by 45 states say the standards hold American students to much higher expectations, and move curriculum away from a bubble-test culture that encourages test preparation over deeper learning.

Read more

9:41am

Sun January 26, 2014
Education

Teacher Job Protections Vs. Students' Education In Calif.

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 12:47 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To California now where a polarizing lawsuit goes to trial tomorrow. At issue, whether job protections for public school teachers undermines students' constitutional rights to an adequate education. The students and parents who filed the lawsuit say it could provide a model for challenging teacher protection laws in other states. But to unions and state officials, all the lawsuit does is demonize teachers.

NPR's Eric Westervelt has the story.

Read more

4:46pm

Tue December 31, 2013
Around the Nation

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:23 pm

Students at the Oakland Military Institute took several courses offered by San Jose State and the online course provider Udacity this year. The university is now scaling back its relationship with Udacity.
Laura A. Oda MCT/Landov

One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.

Read more

3:04am

Tue December 17, 2013
Around the Nation

To Make Science Real, Kids Want More Fun

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:30 am

Hands-on science activities like making bubble mitts at the Mission Science Workshop teach students about things like surface tension.
Justin Jach Courtesy of Mission Science Workshop

Are American kids being adequately prepared in the sciences to compete in a highly competitive, global high-tech workforce? A majority of American parents say no, according to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Read more

5:11am

Sat December 14, 2013
The Two-Way

Parents Say School Security Has Increased Since Newtown Massacre

Most parents of elementary school-age children say their schools boosted security following last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., according to a poll from NPR in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Read more

5:05pm

Wed December 4, 2013
The Salt

These Days, School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 9:09 am

Students at Lowell High School in Michigan sit down for lunch. Shorter lunch breaks mean that many kids don't get enough time to eat and socialize.
Emily Zoladz Landov

It's lunchtime at Oakland High School in Oakland, Calif., and that means fence hoppers. Several kids wear mischievous grins as they speedily scale a 12-foot-high metal perimeter.

In theory, anyway, Oakland High is a "closed campus." That's done in the interest of safety and security and to cut down on school-skipping. It means kids can't leave during school hours without parental consent, especially at lunchtime. But it doesn't stop several students from breaking out.

Read more

Pages