WNPR

David DesRoches

Reporter

David finds and tells stories about education and learning for WNPR f.m. and dot org. He also teaches journalism and media literacy to high school students, and he starts the year with the lesson: “Conflicts of interest: Real or perceived? Both matter.” He thinks he has a sense of humor, and he also finds writing in the third person awkward, but he does it anyway. 

He's won some awards. He's lost some, too. Winning is better, but neither really matter. What matters is the work. Here are some of his stories that matter: special education; toxic PCBs in schools; hate crime; environmental damages

When he was a kid, people told him life isn't fair. He still doesn't buy it. Consequently, he could be biased toward fairness, which manifests in different ways, such as fighting inequality and inequity. He is an activist for truth and for transparency. He tries to paraphrase smart mentors but he often paraphrases Jeffrey Lebowski instead. If you have a problem with his stories or his bias, talk to him. Call him out. If you’re right, he’ll be better for it. If you’re wrong, you at least got something off your chest. 

His true passion is music. It’s in his veins, always there. Kurt Vonnegut, a lifelong atheist, once said that “…virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician,” and that “music is the proof of the existence of God.” It turns out, a lot of journalists are musicians. If they’re not, they’re likely huge music fans. David's both. He also loves to cook, woodwork, write fiction (never for WNPR) and will probably continue writing about his trip to Ethiopia for his entire life (it was over ten years ago).

He loves being in the studio and being creative with sound. Radio is right up his alley. He enjoys telling people’s stories, holding the powerful to account, FOIA’ing and data diving, eating poorly and trying to find words to end this bio. How about an onomatopoeia? Bam. 

Ways to Connect

Pete Souza / White House

Sunshine Week is supposed to be dedicated to transparency and openness in government, but President Barack Obama's administration seems to have thumbed its nose at the idea by announcing that the executive office would not comply with Freedom of Information Act requests.  

WNPR illustration / Creative Commons

The mascot debates have ended -- at least in West Hartford.

The West Hartford school board has voted to drop references to Native American mascots at its two high schools. But, the schools' teams will still be called the Chieftans and Warriors.

Kuzma/iStock / Thinkstock

A Hartford court has ordered three magnet schools to be relocated or renovated on the state's dime as part of the state's ongoing effort to diversify area schools. 

Senate Democrats / YouTube

State Senate Democrats are hoping to place a limit on administrative costs at public colleges to help reduce the cost of tuition.

WNPR/David DesRoches

The frigid February air stings Odane Campbell as he slogs across ice and snow toward the bus stop. Huddling with friends, the only thing to do is hope the bus isn't late this morning.

It's moments like this when the 18-year-old realizes how far away from Jamaica he actually is.

"Jamaica is not this cold out there," he said. "It's like pretty warm, like summer all the time."

Brad Wilson / Flickr

Should all kids, regardless of their individual abilities, be taught in the same classroom?

It's a controversial topic, and the laws around it are a little contradictory. For example, federal law requires disabled students to be taught in what's called the "least restrictive environment." In Connecticut, this is defined by time spent with non-disabled peers. But, for some kids, being around non-disabled peers could actually be considered restrictive.

Vancouver Film School / Creative Commons

Should all Connecticut teachers get more special education training? 

The idea has been put on the table by a group of educators, lawmakers and other professionals, with a goal to help teachers identify students with disabilities earlier, so that they don't fall behind in class or develop behavior problems.

Paul Keller / Creative Commons

Should sex education be limited to health class?

East Hartford health teacher Sue Patria suggested on WNPR's Where We Live that the best sex education programs are ones where all teachers incorporate sex and gender topics into their teaching. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Forty-eight school districts across Connecticut got a total of $428,000 to help them reduce the number of tests taken by students.

Districts are expected to use the money to analyze their current tests to ensure that they align to new state standards, provide value, and are not redundant with other tests.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's often said that the way Connecticut pays for public schools is one of the strangest and most complicated in the country. There have been lawsuits, task forces, and now, once again, the governor has said that he wants to give school districts the same slice of the pie they got this year. 

Joe Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said that he's happy the governor doesn't want to cut spending, but that education simply needs more.

www.audio-luci-store.it / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed mandating full-day kindergarten across the state. While this plan would likely be favorable to many parents, it has the head of the state's superintendents' association concerned about how it will be funded.

Joe Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said Malloy's proposal to have full-day kindergarten by 2017 is "a major unfunded mandate."

PublicDomainPictures / Creative Commons

Parents in the town of Fairfield are locking horns with public school teachers over the best way to keep kids with food allergies safe. Part of that controversy is over who is responsible for reading food labels.

If you have a kid in public school, chances are you might have gotten a note from your teacher about what foods are okay to bring to class, like fresh fruit, and what foods aren't, like peanuts or cheese. But what about packaged or store-bought foods, where sometimes the food labels aren't so clear?

Denise Chan / Creative Commons

White House officials are worried that proposed legislation from House Republicans would transfer money from poor school districts to wealthy ones. But this is already happening across the country after changes made under the current administration.

The funding program called Title I was created to give federal money to the poorest schools in the country, yet, for at least the last two years, wealthy schools have been getting Title I cash.

Rob.Wall, creative commons

If you’re a poor, black, and disabled student, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be suspended, expelled, or arrested, especially if you live in an urban area.

A new study by Connecticut Voices for Children found that while student arrests and expulsions have declined across the state, there are still high numbers of poor students, minorities, and students with disabilities being arrested or expelled.

What's most alarming, the study found, is that poor kids were arrested nearly 23 times more often than their wealthy peers. 

ecksunderscore / Creative Commons

The winter wonderland that comes with fresh snow is often a double-edged sword for many Connecticut families with school-aged children. With no school, instructional time is swapped for fun time. This can create all kind of problems, from the school to the student to home life.

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