Earlier this month, New York City high schoolers teamed up with The Bell, a journalism nonprofit, to report on and investigate their schools and the education system, releasing their podcast series “Miseducation.”
All ten episodes of the “Miseducation” series are expected to be fully released on June 16, while the first six episodes are now available on The Bell’s website. Two student podcasters in schools in the Bronx and Queens gave their take on the school system and were excited to tell their stories.
Jose Santana, a student in the Bronx, reported the first story in the series entitled “Wake Up Call ––School Should Start Later.” He spoke to sleep experts, school staff and his classmates to gather information on his topic and record his episode with no previous experience in journalism.
“I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed a person in my life,” Santana said. “And [The Bell] really showed us how to do that and gave us the knowledge, the info that we needed to basically get everything done. It’s been a really rewarding experience.”
The Bell’s goal as an organization is to introduce and train New York City students in audio journalism through internships, professional development, and facilitating different journalism programs around the city.
Students in the podcast series also presented topics on school lunches, exit exams, sexual education curriculum and policies prohibiting phone usage. Students also shared experiences of racism perpetuated in their schools.
New York is the largest public school district in the country, with nearly a million students enrolled. At the same time, it is the most segregated school district nationwide, according to a report from the UCLA Civil Rights Project cited by The Bell.
Bree Campbell, a student in Queens, said her peers heard racially insensitive remarks during class and felt someone needed to speak out about the issue other than faculty. She interviewed affected students, a guidance counselor and her vice principal to address her and her classmates’ concerns.
She said the production effort was flexible. She navigated through interviewing sources on her own devices and recording narration for the episode in a podcasting studio. The Bell also had producers and audio editors that aided both students through the entire process.
The response from her episode was widely positive, she said. She saw the episode’s favorable impact on the student body and the staff’s extensive support. Even those that may have been criticized in the episode.
“I’m really grateful that they are so supportive, and they’re so glad that the report has been published and … put out in the public so people can perceive it,” Campbell said. “I would say now, there’s definitely a space where everyone can acknowledge the culture at my school, and now we can find ways to go about it and spread awareness about it and find a proper way to combat it.”
Campbell and Santana said they both received positive responses from their peers and educators and would hope to create another episode on a different topic. The two also said they were grateful for the opportunity to work on a long-form project from scratch.