Why America's Schools Have A Money Problem

Why America's Schools Have A Money Problem

Organisation: NPR / NPR Visuals & NPR Education (United States)

Publication Date: 04/11/2017


Size of team/newsroom:large


How much money a school can spend on its students still depends, in large part, on local property taxes. And many states aren't doing much to level the field for poor kids. The disparity plays out across the U.S., with kids the same age, in the same grade attending schools that try to educate them with wildly different resources. On average, New York, Alaska, and Wyoming each spent more than $17,000 per student in 2013, while California, Oklahoma and Nevada spent roughly half that. School Money is a nationwide collaboration between NPR's Education Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

This project is a masterful use of data to inform reporting and the audience. The graphics are designed to automatically tailor themselves to the reader's geographic location and to work seamlessly within the text. The automatic geolocation of the graphics more than doubled engagement time and seems to have a positive effect on story completion rate as well. Unequal funding is one of the most significant systemic issues facing the US public school system as a whole, and NPR's reporting across platforms illuminated the issue for millions of Americans.

Technologies used for this project:

Mapping: MapBoxGL Geolocation: Maxmind GeoIP Publishing: Python/Flask Hosting: Amazon S3, Cloudfront Data and geographic analysis: R, Python, Qgis
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