Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
Beth reported on education on and off during those years. She began covering education full-time in 2009 to document Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s school reforms.
"If New York City’s public schools were a city, they’d be one of the ten largest cities in the United States," she says. With over a million students and another couple of hundred thousand employees the Department of Education is a fascinating microcosm or macrocosm. And with the Obama Administration’s interest in school reform, there is a lot happening in education right now."
Beth is a New York City native who discovered her love for journalism at her college newspaper at the University of Michigan. She also has a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. Her first job after college was as a reporter for a chain of weekly newspapers in the Boston suburbs. Her boss told her she had a flair for quoting people exactly the way they spoke, so she began interning at the former Monitor Radio network to see if she would enjoy working in radio. She did and she hasn’t looked back since.
Beth is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio. She’s won many local and national awards, including the prestigious Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award for Broadcast Journalism for her series of reports on an effort to privatize some struggling city schools. She also won an Edward R. Murrow award for an investigation of a subway fire. And she’s won awards from the city's Deadline Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the New York Press Club -- which gave her a special award after the 2001 terrorist attacks for a profile on the friendship of two WTC survivors. Beth was also sent on loan to public radio station KRVS in Lafayette, Louisiana in 2005 to cover the cleanup and recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
In 2008, Beth took time off from WNYC to write her first book. It’s called "Why cant u teach me 2 read? Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test" and was published in the fall of 2009 by FSG Books. The book grew out of a 2006 WNYC radio series on the low graduation rate for special education students.
Beth is also a regular contributor to Schoolbook.org, WNYC's Web site about K-12 education in New York City. You can follow her on twitter @bethfertig.
Departing Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott stands by Bloomberg's education reforms, with one exception. He says that if the city had handled the rollout of charter schools better, perhaps the debate today would not be so divided.
It was billed as a "National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education," but teachers at the event in New York City Monday were thinking more locally: their top issue was a new contract.
Unlike Mayor Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio has said he wants an experienced educator to lead the system of more than one million students.
One of the city's largest school bus companies is running out of gas. Atlantic Express said its going out of business at the end of the month, after failing to reach a contract agreement with its union. Some 1600 school bus routes in New York City are affected.
Seizing upon his main campaign promise, Bill de Blasio stumped for his plan to provide pre-kindergarten classes for all city students, by naming five experts who will help persuade Albany that it's worth raising taxes on the city's wealthiest residents. He also promised no surprises in his search for a new chancellor.
Mayor-in-waiting Bill De Blasio said education is more important to the future of the economy "than it's ever been in the history of humanity" after a meeting with state lawmakers where he sought support for his proposal to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund pre-kindergarten and after-school programs.
Educators at one Brooklyn high school focus on getting their at-risk students across the threshold of the building. Sounds simple, right? Think again. In the first of a series called Educating on the Edge, we see that tracking attendance here involves a lot more than roll call.
City Council members and the schools chancellor put down their swords during their final encounter Monday, amicably agreeing to disagree on the role of testing in the city schools.
Education leaders and funders outlined what they see as the top priorities facing the next mayor and schools chancellor, including literacy help, more support with college planning and using a wider range of performance measures than test scores.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of his 60-member transition committee, and it includes 10 individuals with experience in education and children's issues.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a champion of school choice, opening hundreds of new schools throughout the city. But some of the most desirable high schools remain reserved for students in just one school district: District Two which includes the Upper East Side and lower Manhattan.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced several changes to safety protocols, in the Department of Education's most explicit acknowledgment that changes are needed following the disappearance of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo last month from his Long Island City school.
Then, Clara Hemphill, senior editor at Insideschools.org at The New School, offers guidance for students and parents deep in the public high school admissions process, with the deadline just after the holiday.
Make sure to check out our map to find whether your school's grade went up, down or remained flat. Dive in. And let us know what you're finding.
Principals across the city said they were eager to see how a new mayor would approach grading schools and supporting those that are struggling.
More than 60 percent of the city's public schools received A's or B's on their annual progress reports, the last batch to be released by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. City officials defended the annual data as the incoming mayor said he would scrap at least the letter grade portion of the progress reports.
There are fewer volunteers showing up at the family's command center, and the announcements made by the MTA about Avonte Oquendo are fewer and farther between. More than a month after the autistic boy disappeared from Riverview School in Long Island City, his family has entered a new phase in their anguishing search.
Two top state education officials talk to SchoolBook about the misunderstandings around testing and whether the new teacher evaluation system will add to what already feels like a testing overload to many educators. Listen to the Q&A for some clarity.
Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch defended the state's commitment to raising standards, despite what she called "a lot of upheaval" as parents and teachers get used to tougher exams and a new curriculum. But in a rare show of unity, the city's Chief Academic Officer and the president of the teachers union took issue with giving "bubble tests" to children as young as kindergarten in order to evaluate teachers.
Francesca Berisa and Ashley McCarthy are both 13-year-old eighth graders at I.S. 2 in the New Dorp section of Staten Island. After Sandy, Francesca and her family moved to the southern tip of the island because they lost their house.