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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4:56pm

Mon April 13, 2015
NPR Ed

Senators Try To Revise No Child Left Behind — A Few Years Behind

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 7:53 pm

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the ESEA in 1965 with Kate Deadrich Loney, his first schoolteacher.
Yoichi Okamoto LBJ Presidential Library

News flash: Members of the U.S. Senate will work across party lines Tuesday for the sake of America's students.

Well, at least for a few more days.

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5:24pm

Sat March 28, 2015
Space

Astronaut Twins To Separate For The Sake Of Space Travel

This segment originally aired on April 27, 2014.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT KELLY: I listened to that in space when I was exercising - ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

That's astronaut Scott Kelly.

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9:03am

Sun March 15, 2015
NPR Ed

Six Things We Learned At South By Southwest EDU

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 6:58 am

SXSW Edu Logo

The NPR Ed team is back from Austin, where we connected with hundreds of educators and people excited about education at the annual South By Southwest Edu Conference. As with many conferences, there's just as much to be gained from conversations in the hallways and chance encounters as from the official sessions. Here's what we learned from both.

1) For many teachers, the most important tech tools are free.

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2:33pm

Tue March 3, 2015
NPR Ed

Where Have All The Teachers Gone?

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 8:29 pm

LA Johnson/NPR

This is the canary in the coal mine.

Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation's largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It's down sharply in New York and Texas as well.

In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.

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3:34am

Tue March 3, 2015
NPR Ed

Behold The Humble Block! Tools Of The Trade

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 2:41 pm

Bing Nursery School Courtesy of Bing school

For this series, we've been thinking a lot about the iconic tools that some of us remember using — if only for a short time — in our early schooling. Things like the slide rule and protractor, Presidential Fitness Test and Bunsen burner.

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6:15am

Sun March 1, 2015
NPR Ed

Teaching The Holocaust: New Approaches For A New Generation

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 3:07 pm

Ruth Hálová, a survivor of the Holocaust (clockwise): Ruth as a child dressed up for a play; Ruth's 1st grade class taken in 1932; Ruth and husband Milan Hala in India in the 1990's; Ruth and her mother in (the then) Czechoslovakia after the war.
Centropa Photo Archives

Writer and philosopher Hannah Arendt once wrote that, with the German genocide of European Jews, human history "has known no story more difficult to tell."

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10:06am

Tue February 17, 2015
NPR Ed

Hoops By Day, Hops By Night: This Phys Ed Teacher's Got A Secret Brew

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 9:10 am

When the homebrewing gets good, the teachers turn pro. Kegs of Line 51 beer fill an Oakland warehouse.
Eric Westervelt NPR

Listen up, cub reporters. Lesson 1: Never miss an opportunity to catch a good story. I was doing important hop research at my local craft beer emporium, aka my bar.

"This red IPA is great. What is this again?" I asked the bartender.

"That's Line 51. From Oakland. The owner, P.T., does it part time. He has a day job." What's he do? I asked. "He's a schoolteacher."

Bingo! Secret teachers, you can't hide from this NPR Ed sleuth, no sir.

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6:40am

Thu February 12, 2015
NPR Ed

Q&A: Blocks, Play, Screen Time And The Infant Mind

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 12:03 pm

Courtesy of Bing Nursery School

Our "Tools of the Trade" series is taking a look at some of the iconic objects that form a vital part of our educational lives. For an upcoming piece, I'm reporting on how young children learn through that most basic of preschool education tools: simple wooden blocks.

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12:16pm

Sat January 3, 2015
Opinion

Egypt's Citizens Still Wait 'To Breathe Deep The Air Of Freedom'

Anti-government demonstrators celebrated in Tahrir Square upon hearing the news of the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011.
John Moore Getty Images

Amid all the holiday celebrations, you may have missed this story from overseas.

An Egyptian court announced a retrial for three journalists from Al Jazeera who have been languishing in jail for more than a year for the crime of reporting the news. The scheduled retrial is a small step in the right direction for a nation that has seen its historic revolution of just four years ago almost totally reversed.

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3:42am

Wed December 17, 2014
NPR Ed

An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: 'Circle Up!'

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 9:27 am

A restorative justice circle at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif.
Sam Pasarow/Edna Brewer Middle School

One by one, in a room just off the gym floor at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif., seventh-graders go on the interview hot seat.

Some 80 students have applied to be "peer leaders" in the school's new, alternative discipline program called "restorative justice."

Kyle McClerkins, the program's director, grills them on aspects of adolescent life: "What is the biggest challenge for middle school girls? What has changed about you from sixth grade to now?"

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5:03am

Mon December 1, 2014
NPR Ed

Teach For America At 25: With Maturity, New Pressure To Change

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 8:52 pm

TFA at 25 years (from left): Matt Kramer, current co-CEO; Wendy Kopp, founder; Elisa Villanueva Beard, current co-CEO.
Courtesy of TFA

This story was reported for the radio by Eric Westervelt and for online by Anya Kamenetz.

"We, the Committee of Public Safety, find Jean Valjean guilty. The sentence is death by guillotine!"

Molly McPherson, a redhead with glasses, is dressed in a blue bathrobe — in costume as Robespierre. Her seventh-graders are re-enacting the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, with a little assist from Les Miserables.

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3:46am

Thu November 20, 2014
NPR Ed

Are NOLA Schools Failing Students With Disabilities?

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 9:28 am

LA Johnson/NPR

In New Orleans, schools have long struggled to provide for students with physical, emotional and mental disabilities. Even before Hurricane Katrina, many parents had to fight for extra help. But many say things have only gotten harder since the city's public school district shifted almost entirely to charter schools.

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8:08am

Fri November 7, 2014
NPR Ed

Pythagoras' iPhone: Is Listening A Lost Classroom Art?

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 1:46 pm

Maryann Wolfe talks with Mawi Fasil during her AP American government class at Oakland Technical High School.
Elissa Nadworny NPR

Listen and learn, the saying goes.

But are students and teachers these days fully listening to each other?

What, exactly, is good listening, and why does it matter when it comes to learning? Is "close listening" a doorway to understanding that too many of us are keeping only half-open?

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5:00am

Wed October 29, 2014
NPR Ed

50 Great Teachers: Socrates, The Ancient World's Teaching Superstar

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 1:45 pm

LA Johnson/NPR

Today, NPR Ed kicks off a yearlong series: 50 Great Teachers.

We're starting this celebration of teaching with Socrates, the superstar teacher of the ancient world. He was sentenced to death more than 2,400 years ago for "impiety" and "corrupting" the minds of the youth of Athens.

But Socrates' ideas helped form the foundation of Western philosophy and the scientific method of inquiry. And his question-and-dialogue-based teaching style lives on in many classrooms as the Socratic method.

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3:23am

Mon October 13, 2014
NPR Ed

A New Orleans Charter School Marches To Its Own Tune

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 9:42 am

Art projects like these anatomy murals are woven into the curriculum at the Homer Plessy Community Charter school in New Orleans.
Eric Westervelt/NPR

This year, NPR Ed is reporting on the dramatic changes in the New Orleans school system.

All startups face big hurdles. But when you're a startup school in one of America's poorest cities, without deep-pocket backers, the challenges are daunting.

Oscar Brown is a New Orleans native. He grew up in the Desire housing project, a little over a mile west of his current home in a neighborhood ravaged by the storm that struck nearly a decade ago.

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