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APM Reports Documentaries
51 minutes | Apr 17, 2021
The Jail Tapes in the Dumpster
Sixteen-year-old Myon Burrell was sent to prison for life after a stray bullet killed an 11-year-old girl in Minneapolis in 2002. Amy Klobuchar, who was Minneapolis’ top prosecutor, brought first-degree murder charges as part of a national crackdown on gang violence — a crackdown that engulfed young men of color. Burrell maintained his innocence for 18 years in prison. AP reporter Robin McDowell spent a year looking into Burrell’s case and found that multiple people had lied about Burrell’s involvement in the shooting, and police didn’t talk to his alibi witnesses. In December 2020, the state commuted Burrell’s sentence, allowing him to walk free. This end to a prison sentence is rare: Burrell’s case was the first time in at least 28 years that Minnesota commuted a sentence for a violent crime case. But the factors that put Burrell in prison are not rare at all. According to The Sentencing Project, there are 10,000 people serving life sentences in the U.S. for crimes committed when they were juveniles. Half of them are Black. Burrell’s longshot reveals just how difficult it is to right a wrong in our criminal justice system. How many other Myons are there?
51 minutes | Nov 22, 2020
The Bad Place
More than 40 states have sent their most vulnerable kids to facilities run by a for-profit company named Sequel. Many of those kids were abused there. Read more.
53 minutes | Aug 13, 2020
Black at Mizzou: Confronting race on campus
Lauren Brown says college was "culture shock." Most of the students at her high school were Black, but most of the students at the University of Missouri were white. And she got to the university in the fall of 2015, when Black students led protests in response to a string of racist incidents. The protests put Mizzou in the national news. But the news stories didn't match what Lauren saw. They made it seem like racism on campus was an aberration. And they made it seem like Black student organizing was new at Mizzou. What Lauren saw was "Black Mizzou," a thriving campus-within-a-campus that Black students have built over decades to make the university a more welcoming place.
53 minutes | Aug 6, 2020
What the Words Say
Everyone agrees that the goal of reading instruction is for children to understand what they read. The question is: how does a little kid get there? Emily Hanford explores what reading scientists have figured out about how reading comprehension works and why poverty and race can affect a child’s reading development. Read the full story.
53 minutes | Jul 29, 2020
Covid on Campus
The coronavirus pandemic represents the greatest challenge to American higher education in decades. Some small regional colleges that were already struggling won’t survive. Other schools, large and small, are rethinking how to offer an education while keeping people safe. This program explores how institutions are handling the crisis, and how students are trying to navigate a major disruption in their college years. Colleges on the brink The long tradition of students attending small, residential liberal arts colleges around the country was already shaky before the pandemic. Students are choosing less expensive options and more practical degrees. Experts warn that 10 percent of American colleges — about 200 or more institutions — are on the verge of going under. The pandemic is accelerating that trend. A digital divide The pandemic is making getting through college harder for students on the wrong side of the digital divide. In rural Arizona, when campuses closed, some students couldn’t log on from home, because they had no access to the internet. A local sheriff flew laptops and hotspots to community college students on the Navajo Nation. Reopening in a virus hotspot Colleges and universities are under pressure to reopen, but bringing students back on campus safely means dealing with dizzying logistics. As the virus surges in Miami, a large commuter campus gets ready.
52 minutes | Nov 7, 2019
Soldiers for Peace
During the Vietnam War, roughly one in five GIs actively opposed the conflict. Many servicemen and women came to believe they were not liberating the country from communism but acting as agents of tyranny. In the combat zone, they rebelled against their commanders' orders. At home, they staged massive protests. Soldiers for Peace offers a first-person look at how GIs were transformed by Vietnam, and the strategies veterans and active-duty personnel used to bring the war to an end.
53 minutes | Oct 31, 2019
Uprooted: The 1950s plan to erase Indian Country
In the 1950s, the United States came up with a plan to solve what it called the "Indian Problem." It would assimilate Native Americans by moving them to cities and eliminating reservations. The 20-year campaign failed to erase Native Americans, but its effects on Indian Country are still felt today.
53 minutes | Oct 14, 2019
Fading Minds: Why There's Still No Cure for Alzheimer's
In the 1970s, the founder of the National Institute on Aging convinced a nation that senility was really Alzheimer's and could be cured. Research money flowed to one theory, leaving alternatives unexamined — today it's come up short.
53 minutes | Aug 22, 2019
At a Loss for Words: What's wrong with how schools teach reading
For decades, schools have taught children the strategies of struggling readers, using a theory about reading that cognitive scientists have repeatedly debunked. And many teachers and parents don't know there's anything wrong with it.
52 minutes | Aug 13, 2019
Students on the Move: Keeping uprooted kids in school
A growing body of research finds that repeatedly uprooted children are more likely to struggle in school and more likely to drop out. But there are ways to help them succeed.
52 minutes | Aug 5, 2019
Under a Watchful Eye: How colleges are tracking students to boost graduation
At Georgia State in Atlanta, more students are graduating, and the school credits its use of predictive analytics. But critics worry that the algorithms may be invading students' privacy and reinforcing racial inequities.
51 minutes | May 9, 2019
When Tasers Fail
Tasers have become an essential tool for police, but how effective are they? An APM Reports investigation finds that officers in some big cities rated Tasers as unreliable up to 40 percent of the time, and in three large departments, newer models were less effective than older ones. In 258 cases over three years, a Taser failed to subdue someone who was then shot and killed by police.
53 minutes | Sep 10, 2018
Hard Words: Why Aren't Our Kids Being Taught to Read?
Scientific research has shown how children learn to read and how they should be taught. But many educators don't know the science and, in some cases, actively resist it. As a result, millions of kids are being set up to fail.
53 minutes | Sep 2, 2018
Old Idea, New Economy: Rediscovering Apprenticeships
You might think apprenticeships are a relic from an earlier era, but a growing number of Americans are using them as a way into the middle class.
52 minutes | Aug 26, 2018
Still Rising: First-Generation College Students a Decade Later
They bet that college would help them move up. Did it pay off?
26 minutes | Aug 19, 2018
Changing Class: Are Colleges Helping Americans Move Up?
Colleges have long offered a pathway to success for just about anyone. But new research shows that with the country growing ever more economically divided, colleges are not doing enough to help students from poor families achieve the American Dream.
53 minutes | Jul 11, 2018
Order 9066, Part 3: Leaving Camp
At the end of 1944, the U.S. government lifted the order barring people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast. Many people freed from camp faced racism and poverty as they tried to rebuild their lives.
53 minutes | Jul 11, 2018
Order 9066, Part 2: Fighting for Freedom
At the beginning of World War Two, Japanese Americans not already in the military were declared ineligible for service. The government said it doubted their loyalty. But as the war dragged on, the need for manpower grew urgent.
53 minutes | Jul 10, 2018
Order 9066, Part 1: The Roundup
Japanese warplanes bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Hours later, the FBI began rounding up people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast.
11 minutes | Mar 19, 2018
Ethics Be Damned, Part 3
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a major investor in Neurocore, a company based in Michigan that claims to help kids with various attention deficit disorders. Since taking office, she's kept her stake in the company and invested even more money in it. In the third and final installment of "Ethics Be Damned," APM Reports investigative journalist Tom Scheck joins Lizzie O'Leary of Marketplace Weekend to parse DeVos' potential conflicts of interest. Plus, what happens if watchdog groups use ethics as a political weapon? To read Tom's full investigation, visit apmreports.com/ethics.
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