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

Courtesy of Tony Evers

Updated Thursday at 11:49 a.m. CT

Republican leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature asked the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday to block an order from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' administration extending the safer-at-home order until May 26.

Emily Files / WUWM

In response to the coronavirus public health emergency, Gov. Tony Evers ordered all Wisconsin K-12 schools to close. WUWM will post updates below about how K-12 schools in the Milwaukee area are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

>>The Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Emily Files / WUWM

On Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers extended his stay-at-home order — it includes keeping all Wisconsin K-12 schools closed for the rest of the spring semester.

Since schools first shutdown mid-March, some have been quick to implement virtual instruction. But Milwaukee Public Schools has been slower to make that shift.

Emily Files / WUWM

Students and teachers at Wisconsin colleges and universities are grappling with the uncertainty of coronavirus-related closures. Schools across the state have suspended in-person classes, study abroad programs, and athletics.

WUWM will post updates below about how Milwaukee-area higher education institutions are responding to the coronavirus crisis.

>>The Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

Updated April 24, 6:23 p.m. 

Milwaukee Public Schools will get an additional $87 million each year to spend on educational programming after voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum allowing the district to raise revenue through a property tax increase.

The referendum funding may help MPS deal with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered schools indefinitely beginning mid-March.

Courtesy Naoshi Johnson, Jeremiah Baez and Moo Ko Wah.

This is the time of year when many high school seniors are making one of the most important decisions of their lives — where to go to college. But the coronavirus has created tremendous uncertainty as students try to plan for their future.

"I feel like at this point, I’m so lost," says Moo Ko Wah, a senior at MPS’s South Division High School. "At school I have my coaches, my mentor. And here I don’t have nobody."

Emily Files / WUWM

Schools across Wisconsin are shut down indefinitely to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. It’s an unprecedented situation, and it raises a lot of questions about what schools should do in this situation and how student learning and emotional wellbeing is affected as families hunker down at home.

WUWM wants to hear from students of all ages, as well as their families and teachers, about how they’re adjusting to the new normal of school closures and social distancing.

Chuck Quirmbach

Updated Tuesday at 12:08 p.m. CT

Tuesday is election day in Wisconsin, due to an order from the state Supreme Court.

Less than 24 hours before the April 7 election was scheduled to begin, Gov. Tony Evers called off the election and postponed in-person voting to June 9. But, Monday, the state Supreme Court ruled 4-2 that Evers lacked the authority to do so.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated April 6 at 1:15 p.m. CT

Gov. Tony Evers called off in-person voting on April 7 and moved it to June 9. All ballots already cast via absentee voting or early voting will count toward the results. 

Original post

Emily Files / WUWM

Class is back in session at Milwaukee’s biggest university on Monday. But, the teaching is happening online.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, along with most other universities and colleges across the country, suspended in-person instruction because of the coronavirus threat. UWM extended its spring break, giving professors two weeks to reformat courses for distance learning.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Updated Monday at 5:07 p.m. CT

The number of COVID-19 cases in Milwaukee County surpassed 600 over the weekend. Wisconsin residents are supposed to stay at home as much as possible to stop the transmission of the disease. But what about people who don’t have stable or permanent housing?

Emily Files / WUWM

Schools across Wisconsin are shut down until at least April 24, as directed by Gov. Tony Evers. It’s one way the state is trying to flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak.

During the long closure, Milwaukee Public Schools has prioritized meeting families’ basic needs with free meal distribution. In terms of student learning, the district has given families printed and online "enrichment" materials that won’t be graded.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Updated Friday at 6:49 p.m. CT

For almost three hours Wednesday, the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) debated over the future of the state's April 7 elections. In the end, the commission decided to move forward with the election as planned, and urgently requested that Gov. Tony Evers' administration pay for hand sanitizer and other resources for clerks and polling places.

WEC met via teleconference to comply with Evers’ ban on gatherings of 10 or more. More than 200 people dialed in, eager to hear what the commission had to say.

Emily Files / WUWM

Monday was the first day of coronavirus-related school closures for thousands of children across Wisconsin. Late last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers ordered all Wisconsin K-12 schools to shut down in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Emily Files / WUWM

Wisconsin parents and children are adjusting to a new reality — kids staying at home with no school for at least three weeks. To slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tony Evers ordered all K-12 schools closed starting Wednesday through April 6. Many schools are closing earlier, starting Monday.


Updated Saturday at 8:30 p.m. CT

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is ordering all public and private K-12 schools across the state to close by March 18 as a precaution to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. State health officials have confirmed 27 cases of the virus in Wisconsin.  

Ann-Elise Henzl / WUWM

For the most up-to-date information, read WUWM's March 15 coronavirus post.

Updated Saturday at 8:42 p.m. CT

As of Saturday afternoon, state health officials say Wisconsin now has 27 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. This is up from 19 reported cases on Friday. Twenty-six of these cases were confirmed this week and are active, while one case was reported in February in Dane County and that person has since recovered.


Updated Friday at 11:14 a.m. CT

On Wednesday, Wisconsin health officials announced the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state has jumped from three to six.

Colleges are taking unprecedented steps to minimize the coronavirus risk. UW-Madison will suspend in-person classes after spring break and move instruction online for at least three weeks.

Emily Files

Updated Thursday at 5:01 p.m. CT

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee employee who was tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is not infected. The school also says it's canceling all spring semester study abroad programs. 

On Wednesday, UWM Chancellor Mark Mone announced the university was officially suspending in-person classes between March 30 (after a prolonged spring break) and April 10. 


When Andrew Martin was hired to work in MPS in 2012, he showed up to his assigned high school and was greeted with confusion. “The principal said, ‘Oh I didn’t know we were getting somebody. What position are you here for?’ And I said 'Well, I was hired as a social studies teacher,'” he remembers. 

The mix-up was sorted out, and Martin stayed with MPS for eight years. But along the way, he kept hearing other stories about human resources mishaps and delays that frustrate even teachers who really want to work for MPS.  

Emily Files

A relatively new Milwaukee college completion charity working to bolster the number of low-income students of color earning college degrees will more than double the number of young people it serves this year.

All-In Milwaukee provides for its students what many wealthy and middle-class collegegoers take for granted: financial support, help navigating unfamiliar systems, and connections to secure job placement after graduation.

Emily Files

High-quality early childhood education is often inaccessible for Milwaukee families. That’s the bottom line from a recently-released needs assessment commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Emily Files

In early February, Gov. Tony Evers signed Wisconsin’s first dyslexia law. It requires the Department of Public Instruction to create a guidebook about the common reading disability. 

Courtesy David Crowley and Chris Larson

Updated Wednesday at 11:39 a.m. CT

David Crowley and Chris Larson are advancing to the April 7 general election in the Milwaukee County executive race. They were the top two vote-getters in the primary election, beating out Theo Lipscomb and Purnima Nath.

Both Crowley and Larson are Democrats who serve in the Wisconsin Legislature – Crowley in the Assembly and Larson in the Senate.

Emily Files

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is trying again to increase state support of schools. This time, by calling a special session for Feb. 11 on the topic. But the proposal appears to be dead on arrival with Republican leadership.  

Evers wants to use $250 million of an expected budget surplus to restore the state’s commitment to funding two-thirds of K-12 education costs.

Emily Files

In Wisconsin, parents have a lot of choices about where to send their children to school. Open Enrollment allows families to switch between public school districts. Parental choice programs let some families enroll in private schools, using taxpayer-funded vouchers.

READ: Vice President Mike Pence Joins Wisconsin School Choice Rally

Emily Files

Wisconsin now has its first dyslexia-specific law on the books — giving hope to advocates who’ve been fighting for greater recognition of the common learning disability.

Act 86 calls for the creation of a dyslexia guidebook for school districts. Gov. Tony Evers signed the bill into law Wednesday morning, tying it to Wisconsin’s push to improve students’ reading abilities.

Emily Files

The politics of education was on full display in Wisconsin’s capital on Tuesday — with two of the Trump administration’s top officials rallying support for school choice, and public education advocates calling for an end to those programs.

Emily Files

A new report from a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researcher highlights one reason African American teachers may leave classrooms: trust issues in the work environment.

Emily Files / WUWM

An effort to ban Native American mascots, logos, and nicknames in Wisconsin public schools was quashed on Wednesday, at least for now. A resolution to rid schools of the mascots was rejected by a delegation of about 300 school board members from across the state.

This latest push against Native American mascots started with Wausau School Board President Tricia Zunker, who is now also running for Congress. Zunker is Ho-Chunk, and she objects to the about 30 Wisconsin school districts still using Native American mascot and nicknames.