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The Globe has launched a two-year initiative called The Great Divide to explore the deep inequalities in our public education system, examining both the challenges and possible solutions to creating equal opportunity for all students. This newsletter will update you on our investigative findings, with links to stories and other relevant information. If you know of anyone interested in this subject, tell them they can sign up for this newsletter here.
By Sarah Carr, Globe Staff
 
Education and inequality are two of the most urgent issues of our time -- in Boston and well beyond. With that in mind, over the past month the Globe has assembled a team of journalists dedicated to investigating, illuminating, and engaging readers on these topics over the next two years. I'm thrilled to introduce them to you here.
The Globe's Education team: Meghan Irons, Bianca Vázquez Toness, Jamie Vaznis, Malcolm Gay, Jenna Russell, and editor Sarah Carr.
Malcolm Gay has been a staff writer at the Globe since 2015, where he’s covered visual and performing arts, and was a lead writer on The Valedictorians Project. Meghan Irons is a 17-year Globe veteran and Boston native who has chronicled race, social justice and politics in the city and also played a lead role on the Valedictorians Project. Jenna Russell is the author of two Globe books; she has helped produce several of the newspaper’s most impactful stories, including exposing failures in the state’s mental health care systemBianca Vázquez Toness worked most recently as managing editor and education correspondent at Boston’s WGBH Radio; she has reported on kids, education, and social justice for different radio and online outlets over the last two decades. Our team will work in close collaboration on all aspects of our work with veteran Boston schools reporter Jamie Vaznis.
 
I have covered education for the last 20 years for a variety of newspapers and magazines, and wrote "Hope Against Hope," a narrative, nonfiction account of New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina.
 
While our education coverage will be wide-ranging, we commit to: 
  • Root our reporting in the lives and experiences of some of the most marginalized members of our community. Key to that mission will be consistently elevating the voices of children and teenagers, a topic I wrote about recently for the Columbia Journalism Review.
  • Experiment with diverse and engaging forms of storytelling. Whether conveying facts and narratives through text, photo, videos, podcasts, data visualizations or something else entirely, we promise to keep things interesting -- and have fun.
  • Present data in creative and provocative ways. A key component of The Valedictorians Project was its distinctive database featuring the stories and outcomes of Boston Public Schools’ valedictorians from 2005 to 2007. We hope to build more of our own datasets, and find untold stories in existing ones.
  • Strive above all else to write stories that expose injustice and have the potential to engender change. The work we’re proudest of provokes and inspires but also causes people to act.
JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF           
Britney Mendez (center) made her way between classes at Brighton High School. Britney is a bright student who works at Petco after school and on weekends to help her family pay rent.
Since the start of school, Jenna and Malcolm have taken you deep inside two neighboring schools -- suburban Newton South and Boston's Brighton High (photo above) -- whose stark differences in opportunity and outcome gave rise to our project name, The Great Divide. Meghan has probed the shortage of college counselors in Boston schools who actually have time for, well, college counseling. And Jamie has introduced you to a landmark school funding bill whose details and implications we will be investigating in the coming weeks.

We want to explore as creatively and provocatively as we can how privilege, race, and socioeconomics determine who has access to educational opportunity -- and who does not. We need your help. Please get the conversation started by encouraging your friends and family to subscribe to this free newsletter, and reach out to us with any story tips and suggestions.

Stay tuned for more stories in the weeks to come.
WHAT WE ARE READING
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The Valedictorians Project
Boston's top students from 2005 to 2007 set out to change the world. But then life happened.
ABOUT THE GREAT DIVIDE
The Great Divide builds on the findings of the Globe's Valedictorians Project in January, which revealed that even the best students in Boston public schools often struggle after high school. An editor and a team of four investigative reporters are examining public education in the region, with humanity and empathy, and with a goal of provoking public discussion and exploring what might be done to fix core issues of inequality, social mobility, and economic opportunity. Please send ideas and suggestions to: thegreatdivide@globe.com

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