Author

Alex Baumhardt

Alex Baumhardt

Alex Baumhardt has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post. She previously worked in Iceland and Qatar and was a Fulbright scholar in Spain where she earned a master's degree in digital media. She's been a kayaking guide in Alaska, farmed on four continents and worked the night shift at several bakeries to support her reporting along the way.

Oregon secretary of state rejects petition to get school choice on ballot

By: - January 20, 2022

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan rejected a petition Wednesday to get a school choice measure on the November 2024 ballot because it was not specific enough to one issue. The proposed measure included changes to the Oregon Constitution that would allow parents to choose any school for their child and provide state funding for […]

Despite challenging school year, Oregon graduation rates dropped only slightly

By: - January 20, 2022

The state’s average four-year high school graduation rate fell just two percentage points during the last school year despite major hurdles to instruction from the pandemic, according to data released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education.  The average four-year graduation rate in the state went from 83% for the class of 2020 to 81% […]

DeFazio will try a last time to ease debt burden on college borrowers, expand Pell

By: - January 19, 2022

Each year since 2016, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democrat from Oregon, has proposed lowering student debt and expanding the federal Pell grant for low-income students.  His legislation has yet to pass. In his last year representing the state’s 4th Congressional District before retiring after 36 years, DeFazio will try one last time. He announced Wednesday […]

Large Oregon districts skipped ‘emergency’ teachers even as staff shortages grew

By: - January 19, 2022

Last October, the state came to the rescue of school districts by opening the way to get people into classrooms who weren’t necessarily teachers by degree or training. But data from the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission show that the state’s largest districts didn’t grab the lifeline even as they closed down in recent […]

Federal judge dismisses school masks challenge in The Dalles

By: - January 18, 2022

Four parents who had sought a court order to end the enforcement of mask mandates in the North Wasco County School District have been denied by a federal judge. The parents – Jennifer Rae Gunter, Robert Jay Schwartz, Holly Lynn Gove and Chelsea Elizabeth Perritt – sued the district, naming the superintendent and school board […]

Oregon scholarship for community college disproportionately going to wealthier students

By: - January 18, 2022

Money to help Oregon high school seniors pay for community college has been disproportionately flowing to students with the least financial need.  At a Senate Education Committee meeting Jan. 12, Juan Baez-Arevalo, the director of the Office of Student Access and Completion at the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, told lawmakers that the Oregon Promise grant […]

New recommendations limit contact tracing in schools to exposure in cafeterias, band, sports

By: - January 14, 2022

New guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education could end contract tracing when a student tests positive and was in close proximity to other students as long as all were wearing masks.  In an email sent Friday, the director of the state Education Department, Colt Gill, advised schools that they […]

Nurses and staff at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland

State will add nearly 2,000 new contract professionals to ease overburdened hospitals

By: and - January 13, 2022

Oregon officials are working to discharge hundreds of hospital patients who have been languishing and taking up critically-needed beds because the care they need in the community isn’t available. The move is expected to free up hospital beds for the still-growing influx of Oregonians so ill with coronavirus they need hospitalization. State officials said Thursday […]

Oregon students to get debt canceled and a payment over deceptive loan practices

By: - January 13, 2022

More than 5,000 Oregonians whose student loans were managed by Navient, one of the nation’s largest loan servicing companies, will receive part of a $1.85 billion settlement after it was found that the company participated in unfair and deceptive practices.  Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, announced the settlement today, along with 38 other states attorneys general.  […]

Legislators consider shielding school superintendents from rash school board actions

By: - January 13, 2022

Leaders from the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators and the Oregon School Boards Association are asking legislators to protect superintendents from some firings and require greater oversight and training for those serving on school boards. The proposals respond to several recent high-profile firings of school superintendents by their boards for enforcing mask and vaccine mandates, […]

DEQ fines Port of Morrow $1.3 million for ‘reckless’ pumping of nitrate-laced water on farms

By: and - January 11, 2022

State officials said Tuesday that the Port of Morrow in northeast Oregon for years has spread excessive amounts of nitrate-laced wastewater on area farmlands in a way that contaminates groundwater and was “reckless” in doing so. The state Department of Environmental Quality made that finding in announcing one of its largest pollution fines ever, levying […]

Empty classroom

State senator launches campaign for Oregon students denied class time due to language, disability

By: - January 11, 2022

State Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis, launched a statewide campaign Monday to collect accounts of Oregon students who have been denied equal time in their schools during the pandemic due to disability, a need for behavioral support or a need for English Language Learner services.  She hopes to use the material from the #AllMeansAll campaign […]