From 2012 to 2015, the City of Chicago spent more than $210 million to settle police misconduct lawsuits. To pay for them, it issued long-term, high-interest bonds, which more than doubled the cost to taxpayers. Yet none of the city departments that touch these suits analyzed them for patterns that might allow the city to reduce the underlying misconduct and the cost to taxpayers. We created our own database of all 655 misconduct lawsuits that were paid out over that four-year period, and used it to examine the patterns the city has ignored.
The Chicago Reporter, June 2016
Dismantling the Towers
In August 1995, the first of the infamous high rises at the Henry Horner Homes public housing project on Chicago's Near West side began to come down. Twenty years later, Westhaven, a mixed-income housing development stands in its place. This story asks whether the social experiment is working and, more importantly, whom is it working for?
The Chicago Reporter, March 2015
Public Housing, Private Security
Residents at Concordia Place Apartments, a subsidized housing complex on Chicago's Far South Side, said guards from the private security company that had been hired to protect them were, instead, harassing them and their guests and patroling with military-style weapons. My reporting, which relied on interviews and public records, shone a light on the company's practices, its owner's shady past, and the woefully inadequate oversight by federal housing officials, and led to the company's firing and reprieve for Concordia's residents.
The Chicago Reporter, September 2015
Finalist for 2016 Livingston Award for Local Reporting
The product of several months of FOIA requests and joint reporting with Libby Sander, this story looked at Title IX, the federal civil-rights law increasingly being used by survivors of rape to try to hold their colleges accountable for mishandling investigations into sexual assault. Based on my analysis of the outcomes of Title IX sexual-violence complaints, we explored the reasons the law hasn't met students' high expectations of it.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 2014
Executive Compensation at Private Colleges
This was The Chronicle’s most ambitious executive compensation project to date. In addition to reporting the compensation of presidents at the 500 wealthiest private colleges in the country, we provided comparisons to the salaries of professors and other key employees and to the university's overall budget.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2013
Winner of the Education Writers Association's First Prize for Data Journalism (Medium Newsroom)
How My Great-Grandfather's Lost Shoah Stories Resurfaced 50 Years After His Death
In April 2013, my family posthumously published my great-grandfather's chronicle of the two-and-a-half years he spent in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Written shortly after the war, translated from the original Yiddish by my grandmother decades later, and brought to publication through the efforts of several family members, Sky Tinged Red was truly a multigenerational project. This piece in Tablet, an online magazine of Jewish ideas and culture, tells the story of how this important piece of personal and communal history was brought to light decades after my great-grandfather died. I also wrote the book's foreword and afterword (which you'll have to buy the book to read) detailing my family's life before and after the Holocaust. Click here to learn more about the book or to purchase it.
Tablet Magazine, April 2015
Falling Behind Before Kindergarten: The 30 Million Word Gap
Children from lower-income families will hear, on average, 30-million fewer words by the time they turn four than their peers from high-income households. This vocabulary gap quickly turns into an achievement gap when these children enter school. This audio story, about research that hopes to close the 30-million word gap, was produced with Lindsey Kratochwill for WBEZ's Front & Center series on literacy in the Great Lakes region.