Dan Carsen


Dan Carsen is our health and science reporter. He’s been a science teacher, a teacher trainer, a newspaper reporter, a radio commentator, and an editor at an educational publishing house. His writing and reporting have won numerous regional and national awards. His outside interests include basketball, sailing, percussion, raptors, and seeking REM brainwaves.

Birmingham Revitalization: The View from a City School

You could call schools the glue of a community. They're starting points for friendships and networks, and they affect property values and economic development. For our series on revitalization in Birmingham, WBHM's Dan Carsen returns to a redeveloping neighborhood to see how that's playing out in the local school.

Firm Releases Vestavia Hills HS Rebranding Package

After controversy over a mascot and team-name some call racist, a marketing firm has released its "rebranding package" for Vestavia Hills High School.

Gov. Bentley Signs Two Bills Restricting Abortion

Governor Robert Bentley has signed two bills that could make it much harder for women to get abortions in Alabama, but legal challenges loom.

New Rebel Logo Part of Vestavia Rebranding

A sports-marketing firm yesterday presented the Vestavia Hills school board with an update that included a new rebel logo. Tensions over the system’s Rebel Man mascot and the name “Rebels” flared up last year. The school board has since ditched the mascot but kept the name. But the system’s rebranding process is ongoing.

School Funding In Alabama: A View From Sumter County

In more affluent districts, local property tax revenue makes a big difference for schools. But in rural Sumter County, which is mostly farms and timberland, there isn’t much to tax. It’s also hard to raise rates on what is there.

Ala. Legislature Passes Ed Budget, Teacher Pay Raise

The Alabama state legislature today approved an education budget and a teacher pay raise. Conference committees approved the measures Thursday afternoon and Governor Robert Bentley has indicated his support. Assuming he signs the legislation, teachers and other educators making less than $75,000 per year, plus all principals and assistant principals, will get a four percent raise in fiscal […]

Sen. Cam Ward On Bill to Thwart Inappropriate Teacher-Student Contact

Recent reports have referred to Alabama as "ground zero" for incidents of teacher-student sex. Whether that's fair or not, most agree there's a serious problem. So state senator Cam Ward of Alabaster has sponsored a bill to mandate an hour of training for educators on appropriate teacher-student interaction in the age of social media.

Crime in Greater Birmingham: Literacy as Long-Term Prevention?

Police and prosecutors try to fight crime in the streets and in the courts every day. But how do you fight the long-term root causes of crime? Some people think you do it in small school rooms, one lesson at a time.

Grading Teachers on Student Test Scores? Trisha Crain on “PREP Act”

Should educators be evaluated partly on student test scores? Should it take five years rather than three for teachers to get tenure? If State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh’s “Preparing and Rewarding Educational Professionals (PREP) Act” becomes law, those changes and more are coming to Alabama’s schools. So WBHM’s Dan Carsen talks with Alabama School […]

Dr. Tommy Bice, State Schools Chief, Announces Retirement

Dr. Tommy Bice, Superintendent of the Alabama State Department of Education, today announced his retirement, set to go into effect at the end of this month.

Priming the Pipeline for STEM in the South: Student Incentives in Alabama

Given thousands of related job openings but only hundreds of computer science college graduates, Alabama is trying to ramp up its computer science education. That includes a new policy allowing those classes to count toward core math graduation requirements. WBHM's Dan Carsen concludes the Southern Education Desk series "Priming the Pipeline for STEM in the South" with a visit to a Birmingham-area class that's leading the way.

Trisha Powell Crain on Top Education Stories of 2015

This year has been extremely busy on the Alabama education beat: a study commissioned by the state education department itself called school funding inadequate and unequal; state Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh floated a draft bill that could, among other seismic shifts, tie teacher pay to student test results; and, as Alabama School Connection’s Trisha […]

Sociologists’ Book Urges End of Sex Division in Sports

Can you imagine a world with no gender divisions in sports? University of Alabama at Birmingham sociologist Adrienne Milner can. Not only that — she wants to help make it happen. Along with University of Miami professor Dr. Jomills Henry Braddock II, she’s written a new book called “Sex Segregation in Sports: Why Separate Is Not […]

Birmingham Mayor, Councilman Involved in Altercation

Details are still coming in, but Birmingham Mayor William Bell and City Councilman Marcus Lundy reportedly had a physical confrontation in a back room during the council's meeting this morning. Both men received medical treatment.

UAB Student, Iraq Vet Hopes to Help Feed Black Belt with Aquaponics

Ramon Jeter was raised by a single mother on the west side of Birmingham. Right out of Ramsay High School he joined the Navy. He eventually served as a field medic in Iraq. Now the married new father is studying public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and he’s been accepted to Clinton […]

Teaching Tough Topics: The South’s Real History

Teaching subjects that trigger strong emotions and political divides is challenging. In the South, many of those fault-lines — racial, religious and otherwise — are intimately tied to its history. This week the Southern Education Desk is exploring how teachers tackle tough topics. WBHM’s Dan Carsen starts with an overview of some the major challenges, and […]

Interview: UAB Space Archaeologist and TED Prize Winner Sarah Parcak

To some, the fact that “space archaeology” is actually a thing will come as news. Practitioners use satellite imagery to discover and analyze ancient ruins, and increasingly, to spot looting. University of Alabama at Birmingham archaeologist Sarah Parcak is a leader in the field, and she’s just been named winner of the 2016 million-dollar TED Prize, […]

Trisha Powell Crain Talks Money, Politics, and More in Alabama Education

There's never a shortage of stories coming from Alabama's schools. But before WBHM's and the Southern Education Desk's "Issues and Ales" education forum Thursday evening, we wanted to shed as much light as possible on the big picture behind the headlines. For better or worse, that backdrop always includes money and therefore politics. So our education reporter Dan Carsen sat down with Alabama School Connection founder and BirminghamWatch contributor Trisha Powell Crain to talk about that and more.

Why I Support WBHM and the SED: Paul Blutter

Paul Blutter is a civic-minded businessman and father of two who appreciates stories from the Southern Education Desk at WBHM. He’s originally from New York and now lives in Homewood. “We love living here,” says Blutter. “It’s a great place to raise kids. And I think as parents, we all have to make important decisions […]

Why I Support WBHM and the SED: Linda Stephan

Linda Stephan is a local artist and art historian who values reporting from the Southern Education Desk at WBHM. She’s lived in the Birmingham area most of her life and has taught at several area universities. “I’m very, very interested in education and learning,” says Stephan. “That’s why I’m so supportive of the Southern Education […]

A Different Kind of Medical Drama: Local Doctors Give Voice to Bizarre New “ICD-10” Diagnosis Codes

Have you been struck by a duck? Maybe hurt in a spaceship accident? If so, the new medical coding system that went live across the nation this month has a code that applies to you. The tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases, or “ICD 10,” includes almost seventy thousand codes — roughly five […]

Federal Judge: Police Pepper-Spraying Birmingham Students for Discipline Is Unconstitutional

Between 2006 and 2011, police officers patrolling Birmingham City Schools pepper-sprayed students more than a hundred times. But late Thursday, U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon ruled the practice unconstitutional.

College Athletes Talk Tensions Between Sports and Academics

Across the South, college football is in full swing. But football is just one of dozens of NCAA sports. In any season, student-athletes are pushing themselves on the field, in the gym, and in the classroom. They get scholarships and generate billions of dollars, but they also get hurt and struggle with their studies on […]

Alabama’s Science Standards Get a Makeover

Alabama schools are getting new science standards for the first time in a decade. The state Board of Education voted unanimously today to replace old standards that some teachers say were behind the times the moment they were approved. As evidence, they point to their students’ biology textbooks, many of which currently come with warning […]

Dr. Minda Berbeco On Alabama’s New Science Standards

Alabama’s State Board of Education on Thursday approved new K-12 science standards that will go into effect next school year. Science teachers across Alabama say the new standards are better than the current decade-old ones. We wanted a national perspective too, so WBHM’s Dan Carsen caught up with Dr. Minda Berbeco, Programs and Policy Director for […]

A Window On Other Arenas: Sports, Race, And More With UAB Sociologist Adrienne Milner

You don’t have to be a scholar to know that African-Americans are heavily represented in contact sports like football and basketball, but underrepresented in “lifetime sports” like tennis or golf. Some casual observers have come up with relatively simple explanations for that phenomenon. But a University of Alabama at Birmingham sociologist and author who studies […]

Pushing Middle-Schoolers All The Way Through College

Fewer reading materials in the home. Less access to camps or museums. Those are some reasons summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income kids. And there are many in the South, which can hamper efforts to raise graduation rates. But in the second part of this Southern Education Desk series, WBHM’s Dan Carsen reports on “GEAR […]

In Football Country, Concussions Spark A Parental Dilemma

More and more people are learning about the risks contact sports pose to the brain. So even here in football-loving Alabama, parents and young athletes are wrestling with a serious dilemma, one that could affect them decades later: to play or not to play. To help parents facing that decision, WBHM’s Dan Carsen got some […]

INTERVIEW: Carsen & Lindley On Emotional Vestavia Mascot Meeting

Since the mass shooting by a white supremacist in Charleston, South Carolina last month, symbols like the Confederate flag have come under renewed scrutiny. In Vestavia Hills, it’s the high school’s rebel mascot — sometimes called Colonel Reb or The Rebel Man — that’s drawing national attention. WBHM’s Dan Carsen went to an emotional public […]

Capacity Crowd Turns Out For Vestavia Mascot Forum

An emotional issue across the South and the nation came to a head in Vestavia Hills last night — the debate over symbols related to the Confederacy. The school board held a public forum, partly spurred by residents who want the system to drop its “Rebel” mascot. Listen above or read below. Under the text, […]

Alabama’s Teacher Of The Year On Teaching, Common Core, Mascots And More

Vestavia Hills science teacher Jennifer Brown is Alabama’s 2015-2016 Teacher of The Year. The 16-year educator, who once wanted to be a professional basketball player, sits down with WBHM’s Dan Carsen to talk about her motivations and about controversial issues like Common Core, charter schools, standardized testing and Vestavia Hills City Schools’ “Rebel” mascot. But the […]

Birmingham City Schools Free From State Control

Birmingham, Alabama’s school system is now free of state control. The state had taken over after financial mismanagement, corruption, and fighting among local board members so intense it sometimes got physical. Voters have since elected a very different school board. And now, Birmingham’s schools are independent again.