Eric Westervelt

After nearly a decade as an award-winning Foreign Correspondent with NPR's international desk, Eric Westervelt returned in September 2013 to domestic news with a new national beat covering American education as an Education Correspondent.

In this role, he covers the news, issues, and trends in classrooms across the country, from pre-K to higher education. He has a strong interest in the multiple ways in which technology is disrupting traditional pedagogy.

Westervelt recently returned from a 2013 John S Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. The fellowship focused on journalistic innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship and the future of news.

Previously, he was a foreign correspondent based in the Middle East and then Europe. From 2009 to 2012 Westervelt was Berlin Bureau Chief and Correspondent coverage a broad range of news across Europe from the debt crisis to political challenges in Eastern Europe. In 2011 and 2012 his work included coverage of the revolutions in North Africa from the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt to the civil war and NATO intervention in Libya.

As a foreign correspondent, Westervelt has covered numerous wars and their repercussions across the Middle East for NPR as Jerusalem Bureau Chief and as Pentagon Correspondent. Prior to his current assignment, he spent several years living in the Middle East reporting on the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan and elsewhere. As Jerusalem Bureau Chief he covered the turmoil in the Gaza Strip, and the 2006 Second Lebanon war between the Israeli military and Hezbollah. He also reported in-depth on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict across Israel and the occupied West Bank.

During the US-led invasion of Iraq, Westervelt traveled with the lead element of the U.S. Third Infantry Division, which was the first army unit to reach Baghdad. He later helped cover the Iraqi insurgency, sectarian violence and the on-going struggle to rebuild the country in the post-Saddam Hussein era. Westervelt was one of the few western reporters on the ground in Gaza during the Fatah-Hamas civil war and he reported on multiple Israeli offensives in the coastal territory. Additionally, he has reported from the Horn of Africa, Yemen and the Persian Gulf countries.

Prior to his Middle East assignments, Westervelt covered military affairs and the Pentagon reporting on a wide range of defense, national security as well as foreign policy issues.

Before joining NPR's Foreign Desk nearly a decade ago, Westervelt covered some of the biggest domestic stories as a reporter on NPR's National Desk. His assignments spanned from the explosion of TWA flight 800 to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He also covered the mass shooting at Columbine High School, the presidential vote recount following the 2000 Presidential Election, among other major stories. He also covered national trends in law enforcement and crime fighting, including police tactics, use of force, the drug war, racial profiling and the legal and political battles over firearms in America.

The breadth and depth of his work has been honored with the highest awards in broadcast journalism. He contributed to NPR's 2002 George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath; the 2003 Alfred I. duPont - Columbia University award also for 9/11 coverage and the war in Afghanistan; and a 2004 and a 2007 duPont-Columbia University Award for NPR's coverage of the war in Iraq and its effect on Iraqi society.

Westervelt's 2009 multi-media series with NPR photojournalist David Gilkey won the Overseas Press Club of America's Lowell Thomas Award Citation for Excellence.

In lighter news, Westervelt occasionally does features for NPR's Arts Desk. His profile of roots rock pioneer Roy Orbison was part of NPR's 50 Great Voices series. His feature on the making of John Coltrane's classic "A Love Supreme," was part of the NPR series on the most influential American musical works of the 20th century, which was recognized with a Peabody Award.

Before joining NPR, Westervelt worked as a freelance reporter in Oregon, a news director and reporter in New Hampshire and reported for Monitor Radio, the broadcast edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

Westervelt is a graduate of the Putney School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Reed College.

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3:58am

Tue January 28, 2014
Education

Political Rivals Find Common Ground Over Common Core

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 11:25 am

Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del., has begun implementing the national Common Core State Standards for academics. The GOP largely backs the standards that are rolling out in 45 states, but Tea Party conservatives have been critical — and liberals increasingly have the same complaints.
Steve Ruark AP

Supporters of the new Common Core education standards adopted by 45 states say the standards hold American students to much higher expectations, and move curriculum away from a bubble-test culture that encourages test preparation over deeper learning.

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8:41am

Sun January 26, 2014
Education

Teacher Job Protections Vs. Students' Education In Calif.

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 11:47 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To California now where a polarizing lawsuit goes to trial tomorrow. At issue, whether job protections for public school teachers undermines students' constitutional rights to an adequate education. The students and parents who filed the lawsuit say it could provide a model for challenging teacher protection laws in other states. But to unions and state officials, all the lawsuit does is demonize teachers.

NPR's Eric Westervelt has the story.

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3:46pm

Tue December 31, 2013
Around the Nation

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:23 pm

Students at the Oakland Military Institute took several courses offered by San Jose State and the online course provider Udacity this year. The university is now scaling back its relationship with Udacity.
Laura A. Oda MCT/Landov

One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.

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2:04am

Tue December 17, 2013
Around the Nation

To Make Science Real, Kids Want More Fun

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:30 pm

Hands-on science activities like making bubble mitts at the Mission Science Workshop teach students about things like surface tension.
Justin Jach Courtesy of Mission Science Workshop

Are American kids being adequately prepared in the sciences to compete in a highly competitive, global high-tech workforce? A majority of American parents say no, according to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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4:11am

Sat December 14, 2013
The Two-Way

Parents Say School Security Has Increased Since Newtown Massacre

Most parents of elementary school-age children say their schools boosted security following last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., according to a poll from NPR in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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1:58am

Fri November 22, 2013
Education

Charter Schools In Philadelphia: Educating Without A Blueprint

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 10:39 am

Shayna Terrell is the outreach coordinator at Simon Gratz Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia.
Matt Stanley for NPR

This is final story in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Shayna Terrell is in a good mood: It's report card night at the Simon Gratz Mastery Charter high school in North Philadelphia, and parents are showing up in good numbers.

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4:34pm

Thu November 21, 2013
Education

Unrelenting Poverty Leads To 'Desperation' In Philly Schools

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 8:01 am

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, cut more than $1 billion from the state's K-12 budget, which hit the state-controlled Philadelphia district hardest.
Matt Slocum AP

This is the second in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Philadelphia's Center City area sparkles with new restaurants, jobs and money. After declining for half a century, the city's population grew from 2006 to 2012.

But for people living in concentrated poverty in large swaths of North and West Philadelphia, the Great Recession only made life harder.

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4:09pm

Tue November 19, 2013
Politics

Duncan Apologizes For 'Clumsy' Common Core Remarks

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 4:54 pm

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is in some hot water over remarks he made last week suggesting that opposition to Common Core of Standards was coming from "white suburban moms." He has since pulled back from those remarks.

5:13pm

Thu November 7, 2013
Around the Nation

Trim Recess? Some Schools Hold On To Child's Play

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 5:51 pm

Students play tag at Ruby Bridges Elementary in Alameda, Calif. The school has expanded recess time with help from the nonprofit group Playworks.
Eric Westervelt NPR

It's recess time at Ruby Bridges Elementary School and a third-grader is pummeling a plastic tetherball with focused intensity. He's playing at one of more than a half-dozen recess play stations on the school's sprawling cement playground — there's also wall ball, basketball, capture the flag, sharks and minnows, a jungle gym and tag.

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2:18am

Fri November 1, 2013
All Tech Considered

For The Tablet Generation, A Lesson In Digital Citizenship

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:46 am

Coachella Valley High School math teacher Eddie Simoneau uses iPads with his students.
Matt Hamilton Coachella Valley Unified School District

This week on All Tech, we're exploring kids and technology with posts and radio pieces about raising digital natives. Look back at the stories and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, by email or tweet.

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4:30pm

Fri October 25, 2013
All Tech Considered

A School's iPad Initiative Brings Optimism And Skepticism

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 6:55 pm

Students at Coachella Valley Unified School District use iPads during a lesson. The district's superintendent is promoting the tablet initiative as a way to individualize learning.
Coachella Valley Unified School District

A growing number of school districts across America are trying to weave tablet computers, like the iPad, into the classroom fabric, especially as a tool to help implement the new Common Core state standards for math and reading.

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3:54pm

Wed October 16, 2013
Technology

More Angst For College Applicants: A Glitchy Common App

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:39 pm

Thousands of students apply to college each year using the online Common Application. But a flawed overhaul of the system has left many students and parents frustrated.
iStockphoto.com

For many high school students this year, the already stressful process of applying to college has been made far worse by major technical malfunctions with the Common Application, an online application portal used by hundreds of colleges and universities.

"It's been stressful, to be honest," says Freya James, a senior in Atlanta applying to five schools — all early admissions. The Common App has been a nightmare, the 17-year-old says.

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1:49am

Tue October 15, 2013
Education

Silicon Valley Trailer Park Residents Fight To Stay

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 10:37 am

Palo Alto middle school student Jennifer Munoz Tello (right) stands outside her family's trailer in Palo Alto with her mother, Sandra, and 2-year-old sister, Cynthia.
Eric Westervelt NPR

Sunny Palo Alto, Calif., is awash in multimillion-dollar homes, luxury Tesla electric cars and other financial fruits from a digital revolution the city helped spark. The Silicon Valley city is home to Stanford University, at least eight billionaires, and one mobile home park.

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1:49pm

Tue August 14, 2012
Europe

Germans Confront The Costs Of A Nuclear-Free Future

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 12:07 pm

A worker on a newly constructed transmission tower near Buetzow, Germany, earlier this month. The German government plans to shut down nuclear power plants and is seeking to replace that production with power from renewable energy sources, especially wind turbines and solar parks. New power transmission lines will be needed.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

After Japan's Fukushima disaster last year, Germany announced a groundbreaking energy plan: It would phase out all of its domestic nuclear power in a decade and make a transition to safer, carbon neutral energy.

The goal is to have solar, wind and other renewables account for nearly 40 percent of the energy for Europe's largest economy in a decade, and 80 percent by 2050.

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2:29am

Mon August 13, 2012
Europe

Poland Watches Warily As Euro Crisis Spreads

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 7:51 pm

One of the latest additions to Poland's growing luxury goods market, the Wolf Bracka department store, beckons shoppers in the heart of the Polish capital, Warsaw. The country's economy continues to grow, but Poles are anxiously watching the crisis in the eurozone.
Czarek Sokolowski AP

One factor that has kept Poland somewhat insulated from the eurozone crisis is domestic consumer spending. Poland had more than 4 percent growth last year while the rest of the continent was mired in negative or flat growth. Poles have more discretionary income than ever before, and they're using it to buy things in swank malls cropping up all over the country.

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