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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5:23am

Wed April 23, 2014
Education

In Tulsa, Combining Preschool With Help For Parents

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 8:02 am

Shartara Wallace picks up her son James, 4, from preschool in Tulsa, Okla.
John W. Poole NPR

At preschools in Tulsa, Okla., teachers are well-educated and well-paid, and classrooms are focused on play, but are still challenging. One nonprofit in Tulsa, the Community Action Project, has flipped the script on preschool. The idea behind its Career Advance program is simple: To help kids, the group believes, you often have to help their parents.

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5:03am

Wed April 23, 2014
Education

One Approach To Head Start: To Help Kids, Help Their Parents

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 9:48 am

Tiffany Contreras walks her daughter Kyndall, 4, to preschool at Disney Elementary in Tulsa, Okla.
John W. Poole NPR

President Obama has called repeatedly on Congress to help states pay for "high-quality preschool" for all. In fact, those two words — "high quality" — appear time and again in the president's prepared remarks. They are also a refrain among early childhood education advocates and researchers. But what do they mean? And what separates the best of the nation's preschool programs from the rest?

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5:11am

Tue March 25, 2014
Education

Maze Of College Costs And Aid Programs Traps Some Families

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 12:11 pm

iStockphoto

In the past 20 years, the average burden for a four-year college graduate in the U.S. has gone from about $9,000 to nearly $30,000 today. The percentage of students carrying debt has shot up from less than half to nearly 70 percent these days.

At a large public high school in Freemont, Calif., southeast of San Francisco, Alyssa Tucker and Thao Le sit on a metal table. Both come from families with modest incomes.

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3:29am

Tue February 18, 2014
Education

College Applicants Sweat The SATs. Perhaps They Shouldn't

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 5:26 pm

Standardized tests are an important consideration for admissions at many colleges and universities. But one new study shows that high school performance, not standardized test scores, is a better predictor of how students do in college.
Amriphoto iStockphoto

With spring fast approaching, many American high school seniors are now waiting anxiously to hear whether they got into the college or university of their choice. For many students, their scores on the SAT or the ACT will play a big role in where they get in.

That's because those standardized tests remain a central part in determining which students get accepted at many schools. But a first-of-its-kind study obtained by NPR raises questions about whether those tests are becoming obsolete.

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3:39am

Mon February 17, 2014
All Tech Considered

A Push To Boost Computer Science Learning, Even At An Early Age

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 12:11 pm

Alex Tu, an advanced placement student, takes a computer science class in Midwest City, Okla. There's been a sharp decline in the number of computer science classes offered in U.S. secondary schools.
Sue Ogrocki AP

4:58am

Tue January 28, 2014
Education

Political Rivals Find Common Ground Over Common Core

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 12:25 pm

Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del., has begun implementing the national Common Core State Standards for academics. The GOP largely backs the standards that are rolling out in 45 states, but Tea Party conservatives have been critical — and liberals increasingly have the same complaints.
Steve Ruark AP

Supporters of the new Common Core education standards adopted by 45 states say the standards hold American students to much higher expectations, and move curriculum away from a bubble-test culture that encourages test preparation over deeper learning.

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9:41am

Sun January 26, 2014
Education

Teacher Job Protections Vs. Students' Education In Calif.

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 12:47 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To California now where a polarizing lawsuit goes to trial tomorrow. At issue, whether job protections for public school teachers undermines students' constitutional rights to an adequate education. The students and parents who filed the lawsuit say it could provide a model for challenging teacher protection laws in other states. But to unions and state officials, all the lawsuit does is demonize teachers.

NPR's Eric Westervelt has the story.

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4:46pm

Tue December 31, 2013
Around the Nation

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:23 pm

Students at the Oakland Military Institute took several courses offered by San Jose State and the online course provider Udacity this year. The university is now scaling back its relationship with Udacity.
Laura A. Oda MCT/Landov

One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.

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3:04am

Tue December 17, 2013
Around the Nation

To Make Science Real, Kids Want More Fun

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:30 am

Hands-on science activities like making bubble mitts at the Mission Science Workshop teach students about things like surface tension.
Justin Jach Courtesy of Mission Science Workshop

Are American kids being adequately prepared in the sciences to compete in a highly competitive, global high-tech workforce? A majority of American parents say no, according to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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5:11am

Sat December 14, 2013
The Two-Way

Parents Say School Security Has Increased Since Newtown Massacre

Most parents of elementary school-age children say their schools boosted security following last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., according to a poll from NPR in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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5:05pm

Wed December 4, 2013
The Salt

These Days, School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 9:09 am

Students at Lowell High School in Michigan sit down for lunch. Shorter lunch breaks mean that many kids don't get enough time to eat and socialize.
Emily Zoladz Landov

It's lunchtime at Oakland High School in Oakland, Calif., and that means fence hoppers. Several kids wear mischievous grins as they speedily scale a 12-foot-high metal perimeter.

In theory, anyway, Oakland High is a "closed campus." That's done in the interest of safety and security and to cut down on school-skipping. It means kids can't leave during school hours without parental consent, especially at lunchtime. But it doesn't stop several students from breaking out.

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2:58am

Fri November 22, 2013
Education

Charter Schools In Philadelphia: Educating Without A Blueprint

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 11:39 am

Shayna Terrell is the outreach coordinator at Simon Gratz Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia.
Matt Stanley for NPR

This is final story in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Shayna Terrell is in a good mood: It's report card night at the Simon Gratz Mastery Charter high school in North Philadelphia, and parents are showing up in good numbers.

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5:15pm

Thu November 21, 2013
Education

Unrelenting Poverty Leads To 'Desperation' In Philly Schools

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 9:01 am

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, cut more than $1 billion from the state's K-12 budget, which hit the state-controlled Philadelphia district hardest.
Matt Slocum AP

This is the second in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Philadelphia's Center City area sparkles with new restaurants, jobs and money. After declining for half a century, the city's population grew from 2006 to 2012.

But for people living in concentrated poverty in large swaths of North and West Philadelphia, the Great Recession only made life harder.

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4:40pm

Tue November 19, 2013
NPR Story

Duncan Apologizes For 'Clumsy' Common Core Remarks

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 5:54 pm

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is in some hot water over remarks he made last week suggesting that opposition to Common Core of Standards was coming from "white suburban moms." He has since pulled back from those remarks.

5:50pm

Thu November 7, 2013
Around the Nation

Trim Recess? Some Schools Hold On To Child's Play

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 6:51 pm

Students play tag at Ruby Bridges Elementary in Alameda, Calif. The school has expanded recess time with help from the nonprofit group Playworks.
Eric Westervelt NPR

It's recess time at Ruby Bridges Elementary School and a third-grader is pummeling a plastic tetherball with focused intensity. He's playing at one of more than a half-dozen recess play stations on the school's sprawling cement playground — there's also wall ball, basketball, capture the flag, sharks and minnows, a jungle gym and tag.

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3:18am

Fri November 1, 2013
All Tech Considered

For The Tablet Generation, A Lesson In Digital Citizenship

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:46 am

Coachella Valley High School math teacher Eddie Simoneau uses iPads with his students.
Matt Hamilton Coachella Valley Unified School District

This week on All Tech, we're exploring kids and technology with posts and radio pieces about raising digital natives. Look back at the stories and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, by email or tweet.

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5:30pm

Fri October 25, 2013
All Tech Considered

A School's iPad Initiative Brings Optimism And Skepticism

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 7:55 pm

Students at Coachella Valley Unified School District use iPads during a lesson. The district's superintendent is promoting the tablet initiative as a way to individualize learning.
Coachella Valley Unified School District

A growing number of school districts across America are trying to weave tablet computers, like the iPad, into the classroom fabric, especially as a tool to help implement the new Common Core state standards for math and reading.

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4:54pm

Wed October 16, 2013
Technology

More Angst For College Applicants: A Glitchy Common App

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:39 pm

Thousands of students apply to college each year using the online Common Application. But a flawed overhaul of the system has left many students and parents frustrated.
iStockphoto.com

For many high school students this year, the already stressful process of applying to college has been made far worse by major technical malfunctions with the Common Application, an online application portal used by hundreds of colleges and universities.

"It's been stressful, to be honest," says Freya James, a senior in Atlanta applying to five schools — all early admissions. The Common App has been a nightmare, the 17-year-old says.

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2:49am

Tue October 15, 2013
Education

Silicon Valley Trailer Park Residents Fight To Stay

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 11:37 am

Palo Alto middle school student Jennifer Munoz Tello (right) stands outside her family's trailer in Palo Alto with her mother, Sandra, and 2-year-old sister, Cynthia.
Eric Westervelt NPR

Sunny Palo Alto, Calif., is awash in multimillion-dollar homes, luxury Tesla electric cars and other financial fruits from a digital revolution the city helped spark. The Silicon Valley city is home to Stanford University, at least eight billionaires, and one mobile home park.

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2:49pm

Tue August 14, 2012
Europe

Germans Confront The Costs Of A Nuclear-Free Future

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 1:07 pm

A worker on a newly constructed transmission tower near Buetzow, Germany, earlier this month. The German government plans to shut down nuclear power plants and is seeking to replace that production with power from renewable energy sources, especially wind turbines and solar parks. New power transmission lines will be needed.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

After Japan's Fukushima disaster last year, Germany announced a groundbreaking energy plan: It would phase out all of its domestic nuclear power in a decade and make a transition to safer, carbon neutral energy.

The goal is to have solar, wind and other renewables account for nearly 40 percent of the energy for Europe's largest economy in a decade, and 80 percent by 2050.

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3:29am

Mon August 13, 2012
Europe

Poland Watches Warily As Euro Crisis Spreads

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 8:51 pm

One of the latest additions to Poland's growing luxury goods market, the Wolf Bracka department store, beckons shoppers in the heart of the Polish capital, Warsaw. The country's economy continues to grow, but Poles are anxiously watching the crisis in the eurozone.
Czarek Sokolowski AP

One factor that has kept Poland somewhat insulated from the eurozone crisis is domestic consumer spending. Poland had more than 4 percent growth last year while the rest of the continent was mired in negative or flat growth. Poles have more discretionary income than ever before, and they're using it to buy things in swank malls cropping up all over the country.

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5:58am

Sun July 29, 2012
Europe

Spain's Crisis Pushes Educated Into 'Economic Exile'

Originally published on Sun July 29, 2012 9:48 pm

Government employees demonstrate against the Spanish government's austerity measures in Madrid, on Friday. The economic situation has forced some Spaniards to leave the country for work.
Pierre-Philippe Marcou AFP/Getty Images

In Spain, the growing crisis — debt, austerity and joblessness — has prompted more people to vote with their feet. In the first six months of 2012, emigration from Spain is up more than 44 percent from the same period last year.

The Spanish government denies it, but the "brain drain" has become something of a flood with more and more educated, skilled Spaniards moving abroad.

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5:14am

Mon July 23, 2012
Crime In The City

Jo Nesbo's Fiction Explores Oslo's Jagged Edges

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 2:52 pm

Crime novelist Jo Nesbo says despite Oslo's well-kept streets and sharply dressed residents, the city has a dark and seedy side.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

The sun descends reluctantly over Norway's waterside capital, but novelist Jo Nesbo is determined to show Oslo's dark side, to convince me the real city, in parts, is as dirty, twisted and seedy as his own fictional version.

It's a tough sell in this city of bike helmets, clean streets and smiling blond people.

The author has written nine successful novels about the reckless Oslo police detective Harry Hole, a nonconformist with a mercurial mind.

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5:20pm

Mon July 9, 2012
All Tech Considered

The Next Silicon Valley? Berlin Startups Catching Up With The Hype

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 4:29 pm

Simon Fabich (center) is CEO and co-founder of the Berlin-based online shopping startup Monoqi. Artsy and relatively inexpensive, Berlin is an up-and-coming city for European tech startups.
Courtesy of Monoqi

California's Silicon Valley remains by far the dominant arena for high-tech startups and venture capitalists looking to back innovative projects.

But Europe is starting to make its mark on the startup scene. London, Paris and Berlin are starting to hold their own as more and more European startups look to compete on the global stage and attract investors.

A 'Crazy Green Field' For Creative Types

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7:20am

Fri June 22, 2012
Europe

Germany, Greece Face Off On Soccer Field

The eurozone will take a short break from its financial crisis to enjoy a sporting event. The soccer teams of Germany and Greece meet Friday in the quarter finals of the Euro 2012 championship in Gdansk, Poland. Germany's coach doesn't think political tensions will have an impact on the field.

5:28pm

Tue June 19, 2012
Europe

Germany Resists Concessions To Greek Bailout Terms

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 8:18 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with members of her delegation before the first plenary session of the G-20 Leaders' Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Monday.
Yuri Cortez Getty Images

The party that won Greece's parliamentary elections on Sunday has accepted the tough conditions international lenders imposed to bail out the ailing nation. But there's been talk that the party wants to seek some concessions on the terms of the rescue package.

At the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her tough line that bailout terms for Greece are not negotiable. After the summit, Merkel returns to a German electorate that is now fed up with a debt crisis that only seems to grow and worsen.

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2:55am

Wed June 6, 2012
Europe

A Party On The Rise, Germany's Pirates Come Ashore

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 12:07 pm

A member of the German Pirate Party, with its logo shaved in his hair, attends the party's two-day conference in Neumuenster, Germany, on April 28.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

They don't have a plan to save the euro or draw down the war in Afghanistan, nor do they have clear policies on an array of issues, but the German Pirate Party is winning converts and elections with its vision of digital democracy through "liquid feedback."

Despite public relations mishaps and a haphazard organizational structure, the Pirate Party is shaking up the stolid, bureaucratic world of German politics and jolting rival parties with its rising popularity.

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2:51am

Thu May 31, 2012
Europe

Stumbling Upon Miniature Memorials To Nazi Victims

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 8:59 am

Brass bricks known as Stolperstein, or "stumbling stones," in front of a home in Raesfeld, Germany, where five members of a single family were forcibly removed by the Nazis. Across Germany, the stones commemorate the millions of victims of the Nazi regime.
Jeffrey Katz NPR

Brick by brick, Guenther Demnig is working to change how the Holocaust is publicly remembered in Germany.

On a recent afternoon, the 62-year-old Berlin-born artist is on his knees on a sidewalk in a prosperous section of Berlin's Charlottenburg district, working a hammer and small trowel. He is installing dozens of small, square brass bricks, each one inscribed with the name — and details about the death of — people who once lived in apartment houses on Pestalozzi Strasse.

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4:43pm

Tue May 15, 2012
Europe

For New French President, Germany Is First Stop

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 5:46 pm

Francois Hollande stands up in his car Tuesday as he rides up the Champs-Elysees after taking the oath of office as the new president of France. Shortly afterward, he flew to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and discuss the continent's economic woes.
Regis Duvignau AP

As soon as new French President Francois Hollande was sworn in on Tuesday, he observed a postwar custom and reached out to Germany, in a move intended to underscore European solidarity and the importance of the alliance.

But it wasn't a relaxing social visit. Hollande's plane was struck by lightning en route to Berlin and had to return to Paris as a precaution. He then took another plane.

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4:15pm

Mon May 14, 2012
Europe

Europe's Austerity Plans Face Growing Backlash

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 11:45 pm

Spanish protesters gathered in Madrid on Saturday as the country's economic problems continued to worsen. The country's banking system is seen as particularly vulnerable.
Pedro Armestre AFP/Getty Images

A political crisis in Greece and economic woes in Spain are again raising concern about the future of the eurozone.

In Athens today, Greek politicians tried again and failed to form a coalition government, though talks are ongoing. There is growing fear that Greece will not be able to remain in the currency union and avoid defaulting on its debts.

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