Published Work

In Miami-Dade Schools, all you need to be a substitute teacher is a GED degree

Barbara Hochman, a retired physical therapist, decided she wanted to become a substitute teacher. After applying for the position, submitting her college transcript and completing the necessary training, she started working in Miami-Dade County Public Schools about a year and a half ago.

Over the summer, Hochman received an email from the district alerting her that all hiring and management of substitutes, also known as temporary teachers, would be outsourced to a company called Kelly Education

‘Shouldn’t be a war that’s fought on a college campus.’ Tensions rise for Florida students

When Mona Abuzahra moved from the West Bank in 2020 to begin her freshman year at the University of Miami, she was struck by how little Americans knew about Palestinian life.

Many UM students assumed all the Palestinians living in the two territories in the Middle East — the West Bank and Gaza — were governed by Hamas, the armed Palestinian militant group that attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Unlike the Gaza Strip, which has been ruled by Hamas since 2007, some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank

‘It’s hard to survive and live.’ Broward teachers rally for raises, against insurance costs

Broward Teachers Union members rallied Wednesday evening, protesting the district’s proposed 1.7% pay raise, which would be funded exclusively by state funds, rather than the district’s budget.

Gathered inside the Broward School Board building, teachers in blue and red BTU tee-shirts also were outraged that they may be asked to contribute to their health insurance for the first time, effectively exceeding the raise being offered, according to a union statement.

If the union and the district ar

New York City’s graduation rate rose during the pandemic, bucking national trends. Why?

When high school teacher Rachel King welcomed a new cohort of 10th graders to her classroom in the fall of 2021, she made a discovery: a number of her students had never completed their coursework from the previous year.

At the time, the 36-year-old taught English at The Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women in downtown Brooklyn. It was her 13th year teaching and her third at the all-girls middle and high school, which serves predominantly Black and Latino children from l

Florida now leads the country in book bans, new PEN report says. How did that happen?

More books were pulled from shelves in Florida public schools compared to any other state during the past school year, a new report released Thursday by PEN America found.

The nonprofit, which advocates for freedom of expression, recorded 3,362 instances of bans in public school classrooms and libraries from July 2022 to June 2023 across the country. Out of these, about 1,400 — or 40% of the national total — took place in Florida.

“Florida is not an aberration,” said Tasslyn Magnusson, a consu

Pop star Pink will give away thousands of banned books at Miami, Sunrise concerts

International pop star Pink is teaming up with PEN America and local bookseller Books & Books to give away thousands of copies of banned books at her concerts in Florida this week, including one in Miami.

The 44-year-old singer, whose legal name is Alecia Beth Moore, will hand out over 2,000 books at the two Florida stops of her Trustfall Tour, Kaseya Center in Miami on Tuesday and Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise on Wednesday.

“Books have held a special joy for me from the time I was a child, an

One Florida school district removed over 400 books. See books restricted in your district

A school district in northeastern Florida removed more than 400 books from classroom and library shelves during the past school year, the most of any of the state’s 67 school districts.

Clay County District Schools, near Jacksonville, was one of four districts in the state that banned or restricted over 100 books between July 2022 and June 2023, according to a report released Thursday by PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for freedom of expression.

Escambia County Public Schools in the Pa

School bus delays help drive chronic absenteeism, parents and advocates say

One morning in late October, 8-year-old Eric Vilchis’s school bus picked him up on Bushwick Avenue at 7:30 a.m. About three and a half hours later, his mother, Araselis Pedrasa, received a phone call from his school: Her son had never arrived.

Panicked, the Brooklyn mom began calling the bus driver and bus attendant. Neither answered their phones.

“We didn’t know where the bus was,” she said in an interview translated from Spanish.

Pedrasa learned later that the bus had never left Brooklyn. A

Maine homeschooling numbers remain high following a pandemic spike

In the fall of 2016, Jessica Coakley became increasingly concerned that her son, Braden, was falling behind in school. The fourth grader had an Individualized Education Program, requiring certain services for students like him with different learning needs.

But his mother worried it was not enough.

“I was feeling like the teachers and the principals and the people weren’t listening to me,” said Coakley, who lives in Bradley, just north of Bangor. “I would go to these IEP meetings and I’d be cr

Miami art university to close, leaving hundreds of students scrambling. A week’s notice

Miami International University of Art & Design, along with its Tampa branch and six other Art Institute campuses, will shutter its doors, effective Saturday, leaving nearly 2,000 students and faculty members displaced and scrambling.

The Miami campus, 1501 Biscayne Blvd. in the former Omni mall site, and its Tampa branch are two of eight Art Institute schools. The other six campuses are in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio in Texas, and Virginia Beach.

The Art Institutes consist

This education non-profit empowers parents to fight for public schools. Here’s how

One early morning, years ago, then-6th grader Mina Hosseini was hanging out with friends in her school’s auditorium, when the group was reprimanded by a teacher. She still remembers the moment he told them to settle down and show some gratitude for the education they were receiving in the United States. In Iran, he added, children merely go to school to become terrorists.

Hosseini still isn’t sure if that teacher knew she was Iranian.

“I just sunk into my chair,” she said in a recent interview

Pink gave away 1,000 banned books at Miami concert. Check out photos from the giveaway

Pink concertgoers in Miami not only soaked in the international pop star’s music, they lined up to take home copies of four books banned by some school districts.

Pink teamed with PEN America to give away 1,000 books at her concert Tuesday night at the Kaseya Center in downtown Miami, including Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” and Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” all of which she purchased from Books & Books in Coral Gables. She also gave away “The Family Book,” by Todd Parr, and a book fro

‘A world where cancer is not a death sentence.’ Jill Biden on cutting cancer death rates

First Lady Jill Biden, speaking at a South Florida cancer summit Monday, talked of her family’s own cancer heartaches and acknowledged more research is needed to cut mortality rates in a disease that kills more than 600,000 people in the U.S. annually, second only to heart disease.

“When Joe and I lost our son Beau to brain cancer we decided to turn our pain into purpose by helping other families like ours,” said Biden, keynote speaker at the Cancer Survivorship Summit at Nova Southeastern Univ

Twenty-two challenges to school library books have been filed in Maine since January 2022. Just one book has been removed.

On a Monday in September 2022, a semi-retired Livermore Falls resident requested the removal of a graphic novel from the shelves of the local school library. It was the seventh official challenge the area’s school board received that month.

The challenger, Arin Quintel, had no children in the school district, though she said she previously volunteered as a foster grandparent in the local elementary school. She eventually left the volunteer program, concerned by the direction she felt the educat

Opioid overdose drug finds home in more Maine schools

School hallways are often lined with colorful lockers, inspirational posters and hanging student work. But this summer, district leaders in Cumberland and North Yarmouth will introduce a new element: naloxone, also known as Narcan. The MSAD 51 superintendent, Jeff Porter, said he and his team first considered adding the medication, designed to rapidly counteract an opioid overdose, years ago.

“Given the continuing opioid concerns, along with a number of our own students being involved in advoca

Brooklyn Mother Indicted On Murder Charges Says She Went to Beach to Hurt Herself, Not Kids

A Brooklyn mother accused of murdering her three children was indicted Tuesday in Kings County Criminal Court.

Erin Merdy, 30, is accused of drowning her children, aged between 3 months and 7 years, in the early hours of Monday Sept. 12 on the beaches of Coney Island.

The most serious of the charges is first-degree murder, which carries a potential sentence of 30 years to life.

According to the police report, Merdy told an officer that following a phone argument with her ex-husband, she walke

Op-Ed | The mayor & union must finally collaborate for the good of our students

A few mornings ago, I awoke from a back-to-school nightmare. Any teacher will tell you this is common at the start of the year, but we’re halfway through the year, and this one was different. I was not trapped in front of a classroom without a lesson plan or walking through the halls in horror, realizing I was still in pajamas. In this dream, I was getting in trouble for sneaking a student into the school building.

As a pre-pandemic high school teacher, I spent much of my career trying to convi

NYC's disastrous start to the school year is a cautionary tale

Editor’s Note: Amanda Geduld has a B.A. in English literature from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in education from Boston University. She is a high school English teacher in the Bronx. The views expressed here are her own. Read more opinion on CNN.

On Thursday, September 17, in the early morning, I entered my eerily empty classroom in the Bronx, cracked the windows, and counted the tiles on the floor to ensure that my desk was, in fact, 6 feet apart from the teacher with whom I share

Opinion | I’m a New York public-school teacher. A safe return to school simply isn’t possible right now.

After the town hall’s ominous start, it continued in a similar vein. The schools chancellor discussed budget cuts, layoffs and his desperate hope to receive last-minute state or federal funding. That didn’t inspire confidence that Carranza or his staff had adequately prepared for our return to school buildings in three weeks.

The start date has not been confirmed, just as schools don’t have a calendar for the year. I’m dubious that the city has an effective plan to supply personal protective eq