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Meet the Staff of The Great Divide project

Sarah Carr


Sarah Carr has covered education for the last 20 years, reporting on battles over school vouchers, efforts to educate China’s massive population of migrant children, and the explosion of charter schools in New Orleans. She has worked for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and contributed to dozens of other publications, including The Atlantic, Slate, and the Washington Post. For the last five years, she led an education reporting fellowship at Columbia Journalism School focused on race and inequality. Carr is the author Hope Against Hope, which tells the story of New Orleans schools post-Hurricane Katrina, through the eyes of a student, teacher, and principal. She serves on the board of the national Education Writers Association and authored the organization’s guides to interviewing children and visiting schools.


Malcolm Gay

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Malcolm Gay has been a staff writer at the Boston Globe since 2015, where he’s covered visual and performing arts for the paper. His work ranges from narrative projects to investigations, and in 2018 he was a lead writer and reporter on The Valedictorians Project, an innovative look at what became of the city’s best and brightest. Before joining the Globe, Gay wrote frequently for The New York Times, and he has contributed to The Atlantic, Time, Wired, and several other publications. A former Alicia Patterson Fellow, he has won numerous national journalism awards, including top honors from the James Beard Foundation, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and the National Association of Black Journalists. His first book, “The Brain Electric,” which chronicles the race to merge minds with machines, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in October 2015.

Meghan Irons

Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff

Meghan E. Irons has long examined the intersection of race and class with education, politics, and everyday life. A 17-year veteran of the Globe, she was a lead reporter on the Globe’s Valedictorians Project, which chronicled the struggles of Boston’s top students as they entered adulthood. She provided the most in-depth look inside the iconic Boston Latin School as it reeled from allegations of racism in 2016, spending a week at the school with students and teachers. As the Globe’s City Hall bureau chief, she also led the coverage of a new Boston mayor, the first new administration in 20 years, with a focus on education, public policies and initiatives. Irons grew up in Boston’s Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods, and attended the Burke High School. She still lives in Boston.


James Vaznis

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

James Vaznis likes to delve into stories that probe racial, economic, and educational disparities in public schools, especially through the lenses of students, teachers, parents, and administrators. These stories ideally examine why school systems and the state are failing to eliminate these disparities — by digging through data and documents — while holding public officials accountable for their inaction or misguided policies. Other stories highlight initiatives that are getting results with an eye towards explaining how and why these efforts are working. He is also interested in chronicling the growing attempts by educators and others to address the social and emotional well-being of students — an issue that cuts across urban, suburban, and rural lines — that is effectively turning some schools into social service agencies. James has been a reporter for The Boston Globe since 2002 and has been covering K-12 education since 2008. He has also reported on New Hampshire, the suburbs, crime, and higher education for the Globe. Previously, he worked for The Daily News of Newburyport and the Concord Monitor where he covered education and other issues.


Bianca Vázquez Toness

Mark Bennington

Bianca Vázquez Toness has long written about education, poverty, and immigration, both in this country and abroad. Most recently, she covered K-12 education for WGBH News in Boston, where her investigation of exam school admissions revealed how Boston Public School students were at a disadvantage getting into the city’s most elite public schools. She started her career in Mexico and later spent years reporting on the experience of Mexican and other Latin American immigrants in Washington state, Minnesota and Massachusetts. Her stories have aired on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, along with PRI’s The World, and have been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, Quartz, The Christian Science Monitor and Time. She was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT in 2016-2017, and has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Princeton University.

Jenna Russell

Jenna Russell is an award-winning reporter for the Boston Globe whose recent work on immigration has twice been selected for publication in the Best American Newspaper Narratives anthology, published annually by the Mayborn Institute. Her previous work with the Globe Spotlight Team – a two-year investigation of the failures of the Massachusetts mental health care system - was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in local reporting. Jenna is a former higher education beat reporter and the co-author of two Globe books: Last Lion, a 2009 biography of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, and Long Mile Home, about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.