What School Choice Means in Rural Mississippi
The ugly history of ‘segregation academies’ hangs over community’s first charter school
(EWA Radio: Episode 220)
In rural Clarksdale, Mississippi, the phrase “school choice” has a different meaning, as it brings to mind the segregation academies set up by white families opposed to federally mandated school integration. Writing for The Hechinger Report, Danielle Dreilinger spent time in Clarksdale — known as the birthplace of the Blues — which recently got its first charter school, serving an almost all-black student population. She looks at the pushback from local educators and policymakers, who say the charter is siphoning off badly needed funds from traditional public campuses, which also serve large populations of high-need black students. Dreilinger also spent time with families and educators on both sides of the debate. How did she use historical documents to inform her current-day reporting? What steps did she take, especially as a white journalist visiting a diverse community, to build trust among her sources? And what are some story ideas for other reporters when it comes to covering charters and choice more broadly?