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

Chuck Quirmbach

Updated at 4:38 p.m. CT

The mother and sisters of a Black teen who was killed by a suburban Milwaukee police officer were arrested by officers who were cracking down on protesters out after a curfew following a decision not to charge the officer.

Alvin Cole's mother, Tracy Cole, and his sisters Taleavia and Tristiana Cole were arrested Thursday night, their attorney Kimberley Motley said Friday. Motley said Tracy Cole was injured during the arrest.

Emily Files / WUWM

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was in Waukesha Thursday to talk with families who are unhappy with virtual learning and have switched their children to different schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

School choice – or providing alternatives to traditional public schools – is a central part of DeVos’ platform. At the Waukesha roundtable event, DeVos said the pandemic has made the case for school choice even stronger.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Updated at 2:07 p.m. CT

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden still holds a modest advantage over Republican incumbent Donald Trump among Wisconsinites, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll.

Biden was supported by 46% of likely voters, compared to 41% for Trump. This latest poll has a margin of error of 4.2%.

Emily Files / WUWM

This fall, students’ college decision-making process will look different. Some colleges are still doing in-person tours, but the coronavirus has shut down most face-to-face events.

Last weekend, Cardinal Stritch University found a way to bring back the in-person connection many high school seniors are looking for as they sort through college options: a drive-thru college fair. 

Around 10 a.m. Saturday morning, cars were turning off Port Washington Road onto the main drive surrounding the Cardinal Stritch campus in Glendale.

Emily Files / WUWM

COVID-19 cases, along with hospitalizations and deaths, have reached a high point in Wisconsin. State leaders are calling it a crisis.

In response, teachers’ unions from the state’s largest districts renewed their demand Wednesday that Gov. Tony Evers and Health Secretary Designee Andrea Palm mandate distance learning for all schools. And some schools are reconsidering their initial plans.

Emily Files / WUWM

Many children in the Milwaukee area have started the school year with remote learning. But not all parents have the ability to stay home and supervise.

So, some child care programs are adapting to facilitate virtual learning. One of them is the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, which has been running child care programs throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

>>School Year Starts Virtually For All MPS Students

Courtesy of Ava Rheeve

Back in July, school districts were in the throes of deciding how to safely reopen during a pandemic. The Cedarburg School District was initially not going to require mask-wearing in its buildings. But two high school students put up a fight. 

STEVE SHUPE / Creative Commons / Flickr

Updated 9:20 p.m.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced Wednesday evening that due to increasing COVID-19 cases among students, the university would shift to remote instruction for two weeks.

Students in two residence halls, Sellery and Witte, will also be quarantined for two weeks and tested for the virus. Blank said, this is because a rising number of positive COVID tests are now occurring in the on-campus population.

Steve Shupe / Creative Commons / Flickr

Whether college campuses can stay open safely during this pandemic is becoming more uncertain as the fall semester gets underway.

On Monday, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent an urgent directive to undergrad students: limit your social activity for the next 14 days or risk campus shutting down.

Michael A. McCoy / Getty Images

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will travel to Milwaukee on Labor Day, the Biden-Harris campaign announced Friday. 

According to a Sunday press release from the campaign, Harris will visit an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training facility and talk with IBEW members and Wisconsin labor leaders "about Joe Biden's commitment to workers and organized labor."

Scott Olson / Getty Images

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced Thursday that two Missouri men who were arrested Sept. 1 in Pleasant Prairie have been charged with illegal possession of firearms.

Emily Files / WUWM

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, K-12 schools in Wisconsin are making a variety of decisions about how to reopen.

Most Milwaukee schools are starting the year virtually. But some suburban districts and private schools are bringing students back in person, with a host of precautions.

>>School Year Starts Virtually For All MPS Students

Emily Files / WUWM

All Milwaukee Public School students are back in school this week – virtually. Tuesday was the first day for traditional start schools, which includes most elementary students. High schools and middle schools, most of which are on the district's early-start calendar, started on Aug. 17.

Emily Files / WUWM

President Donald Trump is set to visit Kenosha Tuesday to meet with law enforcement and to survey damage, after a week of sometimes destructive — and in one case, deadly — protests against police brutality.

But Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is urging Trump to reconsider— saying Kenosha needs calm right now, instead of more division.

>>Trump To Visit Kenosha Tuesday, Potentially Stoking Tensions

Emily Files / WUWM

Civil rights icon Jesse Jackson added his voice Thursday to the chorus calling for change in Kenosha.

Jackson spoke at a press conference with Wisconsin NAACP leaders and local officials. Against a backdrop of boarded up businesses and burned cars, Jackson condemned the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha officer. Blake was seriously injured but survived.

“Shot in the back seven times,” Jackson said. “In front of his children. No justification.”

Emily Files / WUWM

Class is back in session at Marquette University — the largest private university in Wisconsin.

About 60% of Marquette’s classes are in-person, with the rest online or hybrid. Dorms and classrooms are at reduced capacity, and masks are required to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

But instructors say they’re worried about the potential consequences of Marquette’s reopening, as they watch what’s happening at other schools that opened up in recent weeks.

Screenshot / Youtube

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers responded to the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake by calling a special session on police reform, set to begin Aug. 31. 

SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES

The University of Wisconsin System’s new interim leader wants to expand a free tuition promise program for low and moderate-income students to all UW campuses in the coming years. But it’s dependent on funding that may be difficult to procure during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

The Democratic National Convention was expected to draw the world’s attention to Milwaukee. But the city only received a brief mention during the now-virtual event’s 8-10 p.m. primetime programming on Monday.

“We had hoped to have our convention in the City of Festivals, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this year,” Actress Eva Longoria, who served as the emcee of the night, said in her introduction. “Of course, we’re not able to do that.”

Emily Files / WUWM

Monday is the first day of school for most Milwaukee public high schools and middle schools. The rest of MPS schools start on Sept. 1.

It’s going to be a very different year. Milwaukee Public Schools, like many large districts across the country, is starting the semester virtually because of the risks posed by the coronavirus. The virtual learning will continue until at least Oct. 9.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated at 10:22 a.m. CT

New research on Black-white disparities in metropolitan Milwaukee draws a sobering conclusion about education: Black students here attend the most racially segregated schools in the nation.

Not only that, but schools have resegregated over the years. Black children are as racially isolated as they were in 1965.

Some Milwaukee education leaders say, with the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, now is the time to change the segregation picture.

Emily Files / WUWM

Milwaukee schools that bring students back in-person will have to follow dozens of safety rules, including 50% capacity limits and tracking positive COVID-19 cases within the school.

Emily Files / WUWM

A Wauwatosa private school is facing backlash from alumni after its statement about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Milwaukee Lutheran High School posted on Facebook last week that it supports Black lives and Black families but doesn’t support the beliefs of the Black Lives Matter organization because they don’t align with biblical views. Many took that as an objection to the pro-LGBTQ stance of the Black Lives Matter organization.

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

University of Wisconsin campuses will test students living in dorms for COVID-19 every two weeks, under a new plan announced Thursday. The plan applies to all UW schools except Madison, which has its own testing procedures for the fall semester.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated at 3:48 p.m. CT

On Monday, southeastern Wisconsin teachers’ unions and community groups organized a car caravan from Kenosha to Madison, calling for state action on school reopening.

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

A cloud of financial trouble is hanging over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as it plans for its first full semester in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

The University of Wisconsin System is forging ahead with plans for a combination of in-person and online classes this fall.

Some universities in other states have walked back their plans for in-person learning out of concern about rising coronavirus infections.

Screenshot / Wisconsin Department of Health Services / YouTube

Updated at 5:18 p.m. CT

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is implementing a second round of state budget cuts as the economy continues to flounder. Evers announced Wednesday that he is telling state agencies to find $250 million in cost savings for the current fiscal year.

Screenshot / City of Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Health Department says schools will be allowed to reopen with in-person instruction if they have a strong enough safety plan in place.

That news comes after an outcry from private schools and colleges in the city. Many of these schools realized just last week that the health department’s current coronavirus order prohibits in-person classes.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated on July 21 at 5:49 p.m.

After some confusion and criticism, the Milwaukee Health Department clarified Tuesday that it does not intend to keep all city schools closed this fall.

Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik says the department will issue a new order that allows schools to open for in-person classes if they have an approved safety plan in place.

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