Project description

I wanted to help people understand how their own educational experience was part of a larger system that perpetuates inequality. I think most Americans who have economic and political clout have a hard time thinking about how their educational experience was one side of a discriminatory system. and because of that, we make decisions that perpetuate the same disadvantages that we created growing up. I’ve been calling this the “Saved by the Bell” dream. This series aims to help people understand how recreating that dream creates a nightmare for others.

What makes this project innovative?

I not only used the data as evidence for my theses, but I used it to help readers form a mental model of how to think about these issues. This involves everything from collaborating with researchers, building a game, and iterating on stories that weren’t quite getting through to the readers. Ultimately, this effort paid off. These new mental models really helped people in the education system to make changes that short circuit these trends.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

My piece on school zones perpetuating segregation has caused several school board members to reach out and tell me they plan on using this tool during their next resigning process.

My piece on college discrimination has prompted several schools to rethink some of their orientation programming. I’ve talked with a handful of schools asking to discuss some of the problems they’ve been having with first generation students.

And my college admissions piece and my school district secession piece have been used in many classrooms around the nation to help students understand the complex incentive structures that make these difficult problems to tackle.

Source and methodology

These projects involves reading a lot of academic research, talking with many of the authors of those studies, and collaborating with one of those academics. In addition, I talked to many top officials at universities and colleges, as well as activists and bureaucrats. Everyone who helped me with these pieces and all the datasets I used are credited in the stories.

Technologies Used

Illustrator, HTML, CSS, Javascript.

Project members

Just me.

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