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Search Current & Past Casey Medal Awards
The New York Times
Is education the great equalizer? Gaps in performance between affluent and low-income students in the U.S. are growing. This piece follows three promising high school graduates from Galveston, Texas, who believed a college education would help them break out of poverty. Five years later, they’ve been left with debt and disillusion and no degree. The story puts a human face on inequality and probes a variety of obstacles that low-income students encounter on the path to achieve their dream of moving up the socio-economic ladder.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Kristyna Wentz-Graff
Her first sentence at age two -- “I Boy” -- was repeated so often that Izzy’s family could no longer deny their daughter’s declaration of male identity. This story blended the latest scientific debates over gender with the familiar rhythms of daily life, challenging readers’ assumptions and beliefs. The judges called it an evocative, nuanced and fresh look at the soul of gender identity, a compelling and beautifully written article that deepens our understanding, and builds sensitivity and acceptance of transgender people.
The Baltimore Sun
A quarter-century into an unprecedented level of court and state oversight of special education within Baltimore public schools, problems still persist in guaranteeing equal and quality education for students with disabilities. Spurred on by desperate parents trying to secure services for their children, The Baltimore Sun investigated the system’s progress meeting the needs of its most challenging students. The judges called it hard-hitting accountability reporting.
San Antonio Express-News Photo by Jerry Lara
Bexar County, Texas, had more confirmed cases of abused and neglected children than Houston, with triple the juvenile population. A record number of children in the county died from abuse and neglect in 2011, many in families that had already been investigated by Child Protective Services. The reporter’s investigation examined how state budget cuts for prevention and early intervention may have contributed to these child fatalities.
The Des Moines Register Photo courtesy of the Register
A revelatory and accessible series of editorials highlighting the consequences of criminalizing youth. The series covered racial disparities in sentencing, police presence in public schools, and the impact of a juvenile record on college and job applications. These editorials garnered interest from state lawmakers and led to a new Court Watcher program in which volunteers are trained to observe and document the goings-on in juvenile court.
The Courier Journal (Louisville, Ky.)
Child deaths due to abuse or neglect are among the most difficult stories journalists cover. This reporting is made more challenging if a state invokes confidentiality policies that prevent news media from learning the details of a case. This series of editorials argued forcefully that secrecy makes it impossible for the press and public to hold officials accountable or push for improvements in child welfare services. As a result, the Kentucky legislature passed and the governor signed a new law creating a permanent, outside panel of experts to review child neglect and abuse deaths in the state with greater transparency.
The New York Times Sunday Review
After learning that his 5-year-old daughter had been repeatedly locked in a converted closet in her elementary school, the author exposed the largely unknown use of seclusion rooms and physical restraints as forms of punishment in schools around the U.S. The piece attracted a flood of media attention to the issue, sparked tremendous response from readers, and helped coalesce a national effort to end these practices and promote positive behavior interventions in schools.
WNYC Radio Rookies WNYC Radio Rookies
Highly original first person accounts that bring honesty and humor to the complex dramas of teenage life today: “slut-shaming” on the Internet, stop and frisk by police, living with sickle cell anemia, and trying to beat the odds of graduating while black and male. The judges called this series of audio pieces candid, raw and compelling.