Emily Files

Education Reporter

Emily became WUWM’s Education Reporter in August 2018 after spending four years in small-town Alaska.

She began as a reporter for KRBD in Ketchikan, where she once covered a bear interrupting a high school cross country race. She then worked as a reporter and eventually news director at KHNS Radio in Haines, where she reported on a man in a bear costume harassing actual bears. Aside from the occasional bear story, Emily covered the local politics, tribal issues, hunting, fishing and, of course, education.

Emily is originally from the Chicago area. She studied journalism at Emerson College in Boston, where she reported her very first radio stories for college station WERS. She interned at NPR’s Weekend Edition, The Boston Globe and PRI’s The World. Emily’s work has aired on NPR's Morning Edition, Marketplace, NPR’s Only a Game, and The World.

Ways to Connect

Jon Cherry / GETTY IMAGES

School employees, grocery workers, inmates and 911 operators would be included in Phase 1b of the state’s COVID vaccine distribution plan, under a recommendation a task force issued Wednesday.

Rido / stock.adobe.com

Updated 5:29 p.m.

Everyone over age 65 in Wisconsin will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday but it could take a couple of months to inoculate the entire group of 700,000 people, state health officials said.

The department cautioned that the speed of vaccinations depends on how much vaccine the federal government sends. Wisconsin receives about 70,000 doses of first-dose vaccine each week; at that pace, it could take two months to vaccinate the next group.

DADEROT / WIKIMEDIA

Updated at 4:45 p.m. CST

A Republican-backed push to fast-track redistricting lawsuits in the Wisconsin Supreme Court met with skepticism during a Thursday hearing, with the court's conservative chief justice questioning why the proposal was necessary and how the thinly staffed court could be expected to draw maps.

Emily Files

One Milwaukee-area university is clearing the way for some of its students to help with Wisconsin’s massive COVID-19 vaccination effort. Concordia University in Mequon offered a special immunization class for its first and second-year pharmacy students earlier this month.

The students normally wouldn’t learn how to administer vaccines until spring of their second year in the program, but now they can be called upon to give COVID shots as soon as they’re needed.

Emily Files / WUWM

Some Wisconsin residents are speaking out against the supporters of President Donald Trump who rioted at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. The extremists interrupted the certification of the presidential election. Five people died as a result of the chaos.

In Milwaukee Sunday, a group of about 50 people gathered for what they called a “rally against the far right.”

Becca Schimmel / WUWM

The city of Milwaukee plans to use the Wisconsin Center as a COVID-19 vaccination site beginning next week.

The city started vaccinating its health department workers and emergency medical personnel this week, with an initial 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Individuals who are getting vaccinated feel a sense of hope and relief,” Milwaukee Interim Health Commission Marlaina Jackson said during a press briefing Friday.

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Now that the holiday season is over, Wisconsin leaders hope to increase COVID-19 vaccinations.

According to the State Department of Health Services, Wisconsin has administered about a third of the vaccine doses it has received. Of 266,675 doses shipped to the state, 85,609 shots have been given.

Screenshot

As WUWM Education Reporter Emily Files visited virtual classrooms this month, she found that online school requires teachers to be intentional about how they deliver instruction, but also about how they connect with students.

Ashley Duley, an eighth grade English teacher at West Milwaukee Intermediate School, says she’ll carry those lessons with her, when life and school get back to normal.

Emily Files / WUWM

There were a number of major news developments this year that intersected with just about every area of life — including education. The biggest education story of 2020 has been how COVID-19 changed schooling so dramatically.

On March 13, Gov. Tony Evers closed K-12 schools as coronavirus cases began to surface in Wisconsin. School leaders scrambled to provide meals and education options for students at home.

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This school year, many districts decided to utilize virtual education in an effort to protect staff and students from the coronavirus. Milwaukee Public Schools is one of them.

As part of a series about how teachers are adapting to this new education format, WUWM’s Emily Files visited an MPS virtual classroom.

Emily Files / WUWM

Many schools in Milwaukee have spent the entire first half of the school year online, as a precaution against the coronavirus. WUWM has been visiting virtual classrooms to see how teachers are adapting.

McKenzie King, a chemistry teacher at Carmen Southeast High School in Milwaukee, says some learning experiences are impossible to recreate virtually. Right now, she’s teaching her students about chemical compounds. It’s usually one of her favorite units.

Al Drago / Stringer

Updated 3:00 p.m. CST

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday rejected President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, ending Trump's legal challenges in state court about an hour before the Electoral College was to meet to cast the state's 10 votes for Biden.

Emily Files / WUWM

If you ever scroll through videos on the social media app TikTok, you’ll notice that kindergarten teachers have become popular. They’re posting videos of themselves teaching online — and the level of energy and patience it takes has garnered those videos millions of views. Amanda Hendrickson can relate. She’s a kindergarten teacher at Wilson Elementary in the West Allis-West Milwaukee district. Every day of teaching is like putting on show.

DADEROT / WIKIMEDIA

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments virtually Tuesday in a case that could determine whether local health officials can close schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yui Mok / GETTY IMAGES

Select healthcare workers and long-term care residents in Wisconsin could start getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as this month. Wisconsin Deputy Health Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk briefed reporters on vaccine plans Monday.

Emily Files / WUWM

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many teachers and students out of their classrooms, and onto their computers. But K-12 education wasn’t built to be virtual. So how have teachers adapted their in-person instruction for the computer screen? WUWM's Emily Files visited virtual classrooms to find out, and will tell those stories this month. In this first installment, we learn how a Milwaukee fourth grade English teacher breaks up a 90-minute class to keep kids engaged.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated 3:51 p.m.

The predominately white Burlington Area School District, about 30 miles west of Racine, has been grappling with how to address — and teach children about — racism.

On Monday night, the school board adopted an anti-racism policy. But the people who were advocating for such a policy say it’s not enough.

Michelle Maternowski / WUWM

Updated Monday 6:18 p.m. CST

The Wauwatosa Police Department is releasing additional details about the investigation into the shooting at Mayfair Mall on Friday. Eight people were injured, and a 15-year-old Hispanic teen was taken into custody Saturday night.

Emily Files / WUWM

It’s become common in Wisconsin for school districts to go directly to voters to ask for increased property tax funding. These school referendums have seen high approval rates in recent years.

You might think that the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic devastation would reverse the trend, but that is not what has happened this year.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated 2:31 p.m. CST

As Wisconsin enters the holiday season grappling with its most severe coronavirus spread yet, schools continue to make varied decisions about whether to teach in-person or virtually.

The statewide teachers’ union wants that to change. The Wisconsin Education Association Council is asking the state for uniform rules about when schools should close.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Considers Mask Mandate Challenge

Nov 16, 2020
Jack Hurbanis / WUWM

Updated 3:01 p.m. CST

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case that could affect Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency powers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emily Files / WUWM

Update 11/19 1:35 p.m.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is asking the state supreme court to block the city of Racine's order closing schools. The conservative law firm is representing School Choice Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools, and a handful of Racine private schools that are beholden to the order, include Racine Christian School and Racine Lutheran High School. 

Emily Files / WUWM

This fall, Wisconsin public schools reported unprecedented enrollment declines — particularly in the youngest grades. Four-year-old kindergarten, also known as pre-kindergarten, shrunk by more than 8,000 students statewide, a 16% decline. Regular kindergarten enrollment is down by about 3,000, a 5% decline.

>>Kindergarten Enrollment Plummets In Wisconsin Amid Pandemic

Emily Files / WUWM

Wisconsin State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor is calling for a $1.4 billion education funding increase over the next two school years.

The Department of Public Instruction released its budget ask Monday night. It would restore the state’s commitment to fund two-thirds of school districts’ expenses. And it would put more money toward special education, mental health, students living in poverty, and English learners.

Courtesy of Georgia State University

Four southeast Wisconsin colleges have made an ambitious pledge: to close racial and income-based graduation gaps within the next 10 years.

Emily Files / WUWM

The about 70,000 students enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools will continue with virtual learning for the foreseeable future.

>>School Year Starts Virtually For All MPS Students

Emily Files / WUWM

On the first day of in-person early voting in Milwaukee this week, UWM roommates Juan Escutia and Max Markowitz stood in an about 20-person line on campus to cast their ballots. Both are 18, so this was their first time voting for president.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated 10/22 4:52 p.m.  

Four southeast Wisconsin schools are pledging to close racial and income gaps in college graduation by 2030.

UWM, MATC, UW-Parkside, and Carthage College are the first regional collective to join a national initiative from D.C.-based education firm EAB. The initiative is called Moon Shot for Equity.

COURTESY NAOSHI JOHNSON, JEREMIAH BAEZ AND MOO KO WAH

Back in April, WUWM talked with three Milwaukee high school seniors about how their college plans were made more uncertain by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the new school year is underway, we checked in with them to see how their plans panned out.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated 4:17 p.m. CT

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a significant toll on school enrollment in Wisconsin – especially in the youngest grades.

Public schools lost about 25,000 students, or a 3% enrollment decline. That’s compared to roughly 0.5% declines the past two years. The biggest drop is in 4-year-old kindergarten. 4K numbers fell by about 16% this fall. Regular kindergarten enrollment fell by about 5%.

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