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

Emily Files

Alexandra Moreno is an incoming junior at Carmen High School of Science and Technology in Milwaukee. She wants to be a lawyer. But she’s not waiting until she earns that degree to speak out about an issue that's important to her – immigrant rights.  

“Right now, we’re actually planning a march to advocate for people that are at the border,” Moreno says. "Immigration rights is something to follow through [on] here because our country is a melting pot."

Alesandra Tejeda

On the corner of Cambridge Avenue and Hampshire Avenue on Milwaukee’s east side, there’s a home that stands out.

It’s not a bungalow or a duplex or a high-rise. It’s a boat. It looks like a 70-foot-long yacht, perched on a grassy lawn, facing the Milwaukee River. If that isn’t enough to catch your eye, there is a lighthouse replica on the front lawn.

Emily Files

Wisconsin's first state budget under former education chief, now-Gov. Tony Evers provides a $570 million increase for K-12 schools. Republican lawmakers crafted the spending plan, which resulted in a smaller boost than Evers proposed. 

Whether public school advocates see that as a success or failure depends on who you ask.

Emily Files

Legislation aimed at helping dyslexic students in Wisconsin cleared a major hurdle last month when it was approved by the State Assembly. The bill is now in the Senate’s hands. From there, it would go to Gov. Tony Evers, and potentially become Wisconsin’s first dyslexia-specific law. 

But the debate over how to support struggling readers is far from over.

Emily Files

In Wisconsin, all eyes have been on the state budget and the question of what Gov. Tony Evers will do with Republicans’ version of the two-year spending plan.

But that’s not the only work happening in the Capitol. Last week, the Assembly advanced a handful of bills that would impact schools and teachers.

Emily Files / WUWM

Chances are good your local school district has gone directly to voters asking for more money to stay afloat. Tight state funding and restrictions on local taxing power have pushed more than 70% of Wisconsin school districts to seek operating referendums.

These referendums aren’t about borrowing money for new buildings. They’re requests for more property taxes to sustain basic costs.

Emily Files

Earlier this year, NPR's Education Team announced it was holding a podcast challenge for students. With help from teachers, middle and high schoolers from around the country submitted thousands of audio stories.

One podcast from the Milwaukee area stood out and was named a finalist. It came from three incarcerated teenagers at the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center. The students go by the pseudonyms JT, JC and Joe.

Emily Files

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross is calling Republican lawmakers’ UW funding proposal "micromanaging" and a "missed opportunity."

Cross was in Milwaukee for a Board of Regents meeting this week. It was the first regents gathering since the Joint Committee on Finance surprised UW leaders with its spending plan. The budget-writing committee voted along party lines to advance a $58 million increase for UW schools over the next two years.  

Emily Files

The new, union-backed Milwaukee School Board was responsive to employee concerns as it adjusted and approved the district’s $1.2 billion budget for the upcoming school year.

In a marathon meeting Thursday night, the board shifted dollars to provide increases for things like mental health staff, restorative practice leaders, and bilingual education.

PHIL ROEDER / FLICKR

Republican lawmakers scaled back another piece of Gov. Tony Evers’ education funding plan this week: support for the University of Wisconsin System.

The Democratic governor is seeking a $126 million increase for UW schools. But the GOP-dominated budget-writing committee settled on a much lower number — $58 million.

It follows the Joint Committee on Finance's decision last week to chop Evers' K-12 spending plan by more than half.

Emily Files / WUWM

The Wisconsin Policy Forum’s annual Milwaukee Public Schools Budget Brief details the long-term financial insecurity facing MPS, even though Superintendent Keith Posley has constructed a $1.2 billion budget for the upcoming school year that protects classrooms from cuts.

"This was a difficult budget to size up," says Policy Forum President Rob Henken. "On the one hand, you do see what seems like an easing of fiscal pressures."

Emily Files

Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature have rejected Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to increase K-12 spending by $1.4 billion over the next two years.

Instead, the Joint Committee on Finance advanced a plan Tuesday that would boost school funding by about $500 million.

Republicans called it a "pro-kid budget." But Democrats and Milwaukee school officials lambasted the proposal, saying it falls far short.

Emily Files

Wisconsin's powerful Joint Finance Committee will meet next Thursday to discuss funding for K-12 schools. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, wants to increase state support by $1.4 billion – including major infusions for special education, general aid, and mental health. It would be a windfall for districts after years of mostly stagnant funding.

Emily Files / WUWM

Milwaukee Public Schools will conduct an internal investigation into its former partnership with a troubled charter school company.

The decision comes about a month after federal prosecutors announced bribery charges against former MPS Board President Michael Bonds, who left the board last year. Bonds was accused of accepting at least $6,000 in bribes from Philadelphia-based Universal Companies.

Emily Files

The Milwaukee Public School District is beginning another difficult budget process.

New Superintendent Keith Posley is proposing a $1.2 billion spending plan for the 2019-2020 school year. It includes a modest boost in classroom funding, including 62 new teacher positions and 22 educational assistants.  

Emily Files

In Milwaukee, more than 10% of children test positive for dangerous lead levels in their blood.

Health experts say the most common culprit is lead paint in old homes. But water that travels through lead pipes also poses some risk. Lead lateral pipes connect at least 70,000 older homes in Milwaukee to the city's water mains.

Emily R Files / WUWM

The most-winning team at Milwaukee’s Riverside University High School might be its robotics club. The Riverside RoboTigers qualified for world championships four of the last five years.

This weekend, the team is heading to Detroit to compete against thousands of other teenage engineers in the FIRST Robotics Championship

Screenshot/Wisconsin Eye

Families of children with dyslexia want Wisconsin lawmakers to do more to help struggling readers. Dyslexia is a common reading disorder that makes it difficult to connect written text to spoken language. Children with dyslexia are at risk for reading failure if they don’t get early interventions.

Emily R Files / WUWM

Dyslexia is a common learning disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to connect written text to spoken language. It’s likely one major reason why 65 percent of Wisconsin fourth graders don’t meet proficiency standards on national reading assessments.

Emily R Files

In many places across the United States, families looking for Montessori education turn to private schools. But Milwaukee is different. There are eight free, public Montessori schools in the district.

One of them is James Whitcomb Riley School on the south side. It’s Milwaukee’s newest public Montessori school, and the only dual language one.

Charles Edward Miller/Wikimedia Commons

Updated at 5 p.m. CT

A former Milwaukee School Board president was indicted in federal court Thursday in an alleged charter school bribery scheme.

Michael Bonds is accused of accepting $6,000 in bribes from a Philadelphia-based charter school operator.

Emily Files

Updated on April, 8 12 p.m. CT: Final election results affirm union-endorsed Marva Herndon's win in District 1.

Preliminary results show union-backed candidates winning four of five open Milwaukee School Board seats in Tuesday's election. The race between Marva Herndon and Shyla Deacon in District 1 is too close to call. 

Emily Files

The Kenosha Unified School District is implementing new guidelines following controversy over cheerleading awards that objectified students' bodies. But the ACLU, which threatened legal action against the district, says it's not going far enough.

Emily Files / WUWM

The Milwaukee School Board is about to see a lot of turnover. Five of nine seats are on the ballot in the April 2 election. All the races are contested and only one incumbent is running, which means there will be at least four new faces on the board that governs Wisconsin’s largest school district.

>>View The Election Results

Emily Files / WUWM

Nineteen-year-old Lauren Buchanan is a student at Bethesda College, a specialized program for students with intellectual disabilities. It is run by the nonprofit Bethesda Lutheran Communities, located on Concordia University's campus in Mequon.

"I wanted to go to college because I wanted to meet new friends, see new people and, like, have good relationships, good friendships with people," Buchanan says.

uwm-chemistry-building
Emily Files

In his proposed biennial capital budget, Gov. Tony Evers wants to spend $2.5 billion on public building projects. About half of that money would go to University of Wisconsin facilities, including a new $130 million chemistry building at UW-Milwaukee.

On Thursday, UW System President Ray Cross held a press conference to rally support for the proposed chemistry building replacement.

Emily Files

Tony Evers’ background is in education, including serving as the top education official in Wisconsin. Now that he is governor, Evers is proposing a raft of school funding changes. He delivered his first budget address on Feb. 28.

north-point-water-tower-dragon-milwaukee
Courtesy Terese Agnew

It was like something out of a fairy tale. One day in the fall of 1985, a green and gold dragon appeared on Milwaukee’s East Side.

It was a 30-foot-long, 350-pound sculpture perched on the gothic-looking North Point Water Tower, where North Avenue meets the lake bluff. The dragon’s teeth were bared, and its claws and tail curled around a ledge.  

Longtime Milwaukeeans Cookie Anderson and Gretchen Farrar-Foley remember the dragon.

Phil Roeder/Flickr

Gov. Tony Evers wants to spend an additional $150 million on Wisconsin’s public universities and colleges in the next two years. Evers plans to announce the proposal as part of his biennial budget address Thursday night.

The new governor’s proposal is a departure from his predecessor, Republican Scott Walker. Walker cut funding for the UW System and limited the universities’ ability to raise revenue by imposing a tuition freeze for in-state students.

Updated at 12:07 p.m.

The Kenosha News reports that three Tremper High School cheer coaches have been barred from attending a state competition their team is participating in this weekend. It also reports two coaches will resign at the end of the school year.  

Original Story at 11:36 a.m.

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