New Spencer Fellows To Dive Into Big Data, Refugee Education, & Gentrification


On Wednesday, the Columbia University School of Journalism announced the latest group of Spencer Fellows, four journalists “to pursue ambitious projects examining immigrant education, school segregation, common core standards, and the impact of big data in education.”

Hechinger’s Jill Barshay is going to be “researching a book that explores how academic researchers and private industry are collecting giant data sets on students, and how this data is being used.” 

Newsday’s Jo Napolitano “plans to track the progress of new immigrants as they relocate from Syria and other locations to suburban and rural America.”

Chalkbeat’s Patrick Wall is going to “explore why many urban schools remain highly segregated even as the neighborhoods around them grow more diverse.”

The program is funded by the Chicago-based Spencer Foundation. For more information, click here.

Meantime, the current Spencer Fellows — Sara Mosle, Vanessa Romo, and Erin Richards — are still working on their projects, and the most recent alumnae – Linda Lutton, Joy Resmovits, and S. Mitra Kalita — are back to work (at WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and the LA Times, respectively).

Asked about their Spencer projects, Lutton, Resmovits, and Kalita would only say that they were still working on them.  

Disclosure: I was one of the original Spencer Fellows. 

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Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at