Jo Napolitano on her book "The School I Deserve"

MON, MAY 24, 2021 (54:59)

In a legal battle that mirrors that of the Little Rock Nine and Brown v. Board of Education, journalist Jo Napolitano tells the story of six brave refugee students in Pennsylvania who fought alongside the ACLU and Education Law Center to demand equal access to education.

Napolitano delves into a landmark case in which the School District of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was sued for refusing to admit older, non-English speaking children such as Khadidja Issa, a refugee fleeing the horrific violence in war-torn Sudan, sending them to a high-discipline alternative school instead.

Her new book, The School I Deserve, brings to light this crucial and underreported case, which paved the way to equal access to education for countless immigrants and refugees to come.

Napolitano is joined by GBH News K-12 education reporter Megan Woolhouse, whose breaking news and features coverage has focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on school systems throughout Massachusetts.

+ BIO: Megan Woolhouse

Meg Woolhouse is GBH News’ K-12 education reporter.

+ BIO: Jo Napolitano

Jo Napolitano spent nearly two decades reporting for The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Newsday before winning a Spencer Education Fellowship to Columbia University in 2016 in support of her reporting on immigrant youth. Her first book is The School I Deserve: Six Young Refugees and Their Fight for Equality in America, published by Beacon Press.

Napolitano has reported on many topics throughout her award-winning career, including crime and science. But education remains her primary focus, and for good reason: It was the only means through which she would escape poverty.

Born in Bogota, Colombia, Napolitano was abandoned at a bus stop by her birthmother when she was just a day old. Placed in an orphanage, she nearly died of starvation before she was adopted by a blue-collar family from New York. She was raised by a single parent and is a first-generation college graduate having earned her bachelors from Medill at Northwestern University. She believes no child’s life should be left to chance.

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Boston Public Library
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Repairing America