Jonna McKone | WYPR

Jonna McKone

Reporter

Jonna covers education, youth and housing for WYPR.   She's also a documentarian, media artist and educator. Her stories and audio documentaries have been broadcast on All Things Considered, Here and Now, Marketplace, The World, Living on Earth, WAMU and Virginia Public Radio.  In 2014 Jonna was awarded an Equal Voice Journalism Fellowship.  A Maryland native, Jonna is a graduate of Bowdoin College and holds an MFA from Duke University.

Wikipedia

Here’s a cheery thought to kick off your holiday:  The first two leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease and cancer.  The third leading cause?  Medical errors.  Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that mistakes in prescribing drugs, miscues in surgery, and miscommunication between care givers leads to an astonishing number of preventable deaths every year.  One of the authors of the study, Dr. Michael Daniel, explains how the medical community is addressing this endemic problem. 

Then, 53 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  led the March on Washington, a conversation with an eyewitness to history: pioneering civil rights activist Gloria Richardson, one of the founders of what came to be called The Cambridge Movement on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

And, local author Kathy Flann on her latest collection of Baltimore-based short stories, Get a Grip.  

Civil rights activist Gloria Richardson spoke with Tom in January 2016 about her unique but unheralded role in Maryland's civil rights movement.

Richardson was part of the so-called Cambridge Movement in the 1960s on the Eastern Shore of Maryland – an area she has compared to living in the Deep South in terms of the profound and often violent racial divide.  As part of her effort to end racial bigotry and inequity in the region, Richardson helped organize the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee.

In his book, Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority, Steve Phillips explains how dramatically the racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S. population has changed over the past 50 years. He argues that this change has given the progressive movement in America a historic opportunity to reshape the political landscape.

Phillips is the co-founder of a social justice organization called PowerPac, which has mobilized voters in support of political candidates like Barack Obama, Cory Booker, and the Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris. With the political campaign season in full swing across the nation, candidates of the major parties are hard at work appealing to a wide range of constituencies in their political bases, from Tea Party conservatives and Evangelicals on the right, to progressives and people of color on the left. Steve Phillips joins Tom on the line from his home in San Francisco to discuss the possibilities of a new left coalition of progressives and minorities.

Scholars sing to start the day at Play On Purpose's Summer Camp
Jonna McKone

Every parent faces challenges finding constructive opportunities for their children in the summer while school’s out. But that process can be even more difficult for parents who can’t afford day camps.  

On a hot, August morning, about 75 kids play, sing and chat in the cafeteria of ConneXions, a public charter school in the Mondawmin neighborhood of West Baltimore. Play on Purpose (POP) runs a free summer program here that includes curriculum through the Freedom School, a program of the Children’s Defense Fund. Freedom Schools teach culturally relevant reading and local African American history at over 12,000 sites around the nation to, in part, stem the tide of summer learning loss.

Jonna McKone

The standard picture of a debate team looks something like this: white students in jackets and rep ties from schools like Dartmouth and Princeton. But that’s changing, especially in Baltimore, which has developed a reputation for producing some of the most accomplished high school and college debaters in the country.

Take rising 10th grader at Baltimore City College, Nicolas Broaddus, who stands in front of the  judges at the Eddie Conway Liberation Institute’s debate competition. Clad in a dashiki he’s talking about things that "...constitute the domestic aspect of the US transnational network of secret prisons and black sites..."

Twelve-year-old Mannie Thames knows a lot of kids with BB guns. He says kids have them for safety and because they're cool.

"Sometimes people get bullied a lot, and they want to have something to protect their self," Thames says. "And sometimes people think it's cool, they want to shoot people for fun."

He explains this in between bites of snacks at the after-school center, Penn North Kids Safe Zone, in West Baltimore.

Replica guns that shoot BBs and other projectiles are popular with kids. But in some settings, they pose a special danger.

Grimm and Parker

Baltimore’s billion-dollar, 21st Century School Buildings plan sounds ambitious enough to begin with; renovate and rebuild nearly two dozen schools over the next five years. But there’s more to the program - it’s also creating learning environments that will incorporate natural light, better acoustics and malleable learning spaces.

Nicole Price, 21st Century School Building Plan

The Baltimore City school system is spending $1 billion to update and renovate nearly two dozen overcrowded and outdated schools as part of the 21st Century Schools Building Plan. But closing schools and buildings and moving students, no matter the goal, is not easy, especially for communities that have lost many of their public institutions over the years.

Marvin Walker’s daughter attends Samuel F.B. Morse Elementary School in a Southwest Baltimore neighborhood of vacant homes and broken sidewalks. It’s a school that’s slated to close and its students are to move to nearby Frederick Elementary, which is being modernized to accommodate more students under the system’s 21st Century School Building Plan.

Baltimore’s school system has embarked on an ambitious project to renovate, replace and combine dozens of the oldest schools in the state over the next four years.   

The $1 billion effort aims to shutter and combine dozens of schools and renovate or replace at least 23 – all by the spring of 2021.  

A 2012 report by the Jacobs Project Management Company, a consulting firm, found that 85 percent, or 138 of the schools are in “poor” or “very poor” condition.

A power issue at Baltimore City schools headquarters on North Avenue has knocked the system’s web site off line and snarled some plans for final exams.  

School employees, who wouldn’t give their names, say some teachers can’t get into the online tools they need to administer finals and two teachers said there were delays in administering Maryland’s High School Assessments or HSAs due to internet issues.

Headquarters school employees say the power went out at about noon yesterday, forcing them to evacuate the building through dark stairwells without the aid of an intercom system or emergency lighting.

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