Julian Roberts-Grmela

I'm a freelance journalist based in New York City, available for hire. My reporting has been published in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, City & State New York, Chalkbeat, the New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, City Limits, and many more outlets. You can read some selected publications below.

Educators are trying to bring literacy to adult education

In Zoom class, Larissa Phillips drilled her student, who is in his sixties, on the digraph “ck.” In previous lessons, they’d already gone through several common digraphs—two-letter combinations that form one sound—like “sh,” “th,” and “ch.” After explaining the concept, Phillips instructed the student to rehearse decoding different sounds for vowels and consonants before blending sounds, reviewing words, and then finally reading phrases. By the end, the student was reading complete sentences th

Student school board members call for more power

Imagine showing up to work every day, but all of the decisions are made by people who don’t actually work at the company. Now, imagine if everything you hear about the company suggests that it’s failing. According to Jonathan Collins, a political science and education professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, this is the feeling students in New York City’s public schools have been experiencing for decades. For more than 20 years, New York City’s school system has operated under a syst

Manhattan parent board’s anti-trans vote complicates debate over mayoral control of public schools

A Manhattan parent advisory board’s decision to pass a non-binding resolution calling for an investigation into the presence of transgender girls on girls’ sports team has sparked intense criticism – and handed a potent political talking point to Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks as they fight to maintain control over the city’s public school system. On Wednesday night, Community Education Council 2 – an elected parent-led advisory group for public elementary and middle school

This Tech May Stop High Beams From Blinding You at Night

A disproportionate amount of driver and pedestrian deaths occur at night, partially due to low visibility, according to AAA. While only a quarter of all driving in the U.S. takes place at night, that’s when 77 percent of all pedestrian deaths and 50 percent of all driver deaths occur. However, 64 percent of drivers in the U.S. “do not regularly use their high beams,” according to AAA. Drivers are choosing the risks of darkness over the risks of glare. “We’ve all been there: You’re driving at n

Where are the students? Despite a state law, few NYC local education councils have youth members

Nearly all of the Community Education Councils across the five boroughs are out of compliance with a state law requiring non-voting high school seniors on their boards, New York City Education Department officials confirmed. Each of the city’s 32 local school districts has a Community Education Council, or CEC, with 10 elected voting members and two appointed by the local borough president. Since 2022, state law has required CECs to also have two non-voting high school seniors, up from 2003′s o

Forget Memorization: A Concrete Understanding of Math Better for Young Learners

Sign up for our free newsletter and start your day with clear-headed reporting on the latest topics in education. Emily Elliot Gaffney believes that many students enter kindergarten “without a lot of hands-on experience with numbers,” causing some to fall behind. Without a foundational understanding of the relationship between numbers and quantities, Gaffney says, some students begin school “believing that math is almost a foreign language where they need to memorize answers to equations they’

Legislators object to including mayoral control in budget negotiations

As Mayor Eric Adams looks for Albany to grant an extension of mayoral control of the New York City public school system, Gov. Kathy Hochul is supportive but progressive legislators may stand in his way – especially since the state Education Department has yet to complete a study of the effects of mayoral control of the school system. The mayoral control law allows the New York City mayor to appoint both the chancellor of the city’s public schools and a majority of the members of the Panel for E

One-on-One Tutoring Program Bets Big on Teaching Kindergartners to Read

Sign up for our free newsletter and start your day with clear-headed reporting on the latest topics in education. High-dosage tutoring is one of the most effective tools to help students recover from lost learning, including in subjects like reading, where many are far behind. But what if schools didn’t wait until students fell behind? What if all kindergartners got a reading tutor from the start? That’s what the early-literacy tutoring company Once is testing out. They have a hunch the resul

Pro-Palestinian Protesters Targeting Wall St. Denounce U.S. Veto of U.N. Cease-Fire Resolution

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of Lower Manhattan on Friday afternoon for what was billed as a “Shut Down Wall Street” event, just as the United States vetoed a resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for a permanent cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. Protesters rallied in front of a number of prominent city landmarks in Lower Manhattan, including City Hall and Wall Street, chanting, “Free Palestine,” calling for an end to the United States’ finan

Gotham Government Relations cuts ties with former Obama administration official caught harassing halal cart vendor

Manhattan-based lobbying firm Gotham Government Relations cut all ties with Stuart Seldowitz on Tuesday after a viral video emerged showing him harassing a halal cart vendor in the Upper East Side. “I did have an argument with a food vendor,” Seldowitz told City & State. “It is quite possible that it's me. I mean, I've not seen the video, but I believe it's probably me.” Seldowitz, who worked in the U.S. State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs and then served as Acting Direc

Landlord Charged With Murder in Stabbing Deaths of Three in Queens

A landlord was arrested and charged with murdering his tenants on Tuesday after three people were found stabbed to death in the bedrooms of a Queens home. The man, David Daniel, 54, turned himself in at a police station Tuesday morning and confessed, said Joseph Kenny, the New York City Police Department’s chief of detectives. Mr. Daniel told the police that two of the victims were his tenants and that they had not paid the rent. The third victim was Mr. Daniel’s girlfriend, the police said.

Comptroller Calls for School Funding Changes to Accommodate Asylum Seeker Enrollments

The city’s education department insists the funding system is flexible, but the comptroller and education advocates worry some schools won’t get what they need if ‘massive numbers’ of new students enroll later in the year. The comptroller is calling on the city’s education department, New York City Public Schools (NYCPS), to revamp its funding process to better prepare for incoming students throughout the school year, as asylum seekers continue finding home in New York City. In a September r

‘Let Gaza Live’: Calls for Cease-Fire Fill Grand Central Terminal

Hundreds of protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war streamed into Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan on Friday, in one of the largest protests New York City has seen since the start of the conflict three weeks ago. The demonstration, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, came as Israel ramped up its military operations inside Gaza. The protesters filled the train station, chanting, “Cease-fire now” and “Let Gaza live.” Most wore black shirts that read “Not in our na

Adams criticized for not offering enough support for Palestinians

A rift may be opening between Mayor Eric Adams and some leaders of the city's Muslim community, who in recent days have criticized the mayor for speaking publicly about the deaths of Israelis but not Palestinians. Adams has made efforts to strengthen his relationship with New York’s Muslim and Arab communities. Over the summer, he hosted the first-ever mayoral reception celebrating Arab heritage. In response to the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine, he has recently hosted virtual meeting

More Students Want Virtual-Learning Options. Here’s Where the Debate Stands.

Concentrating in large lecture halls has always been a challenge for Harper Chambers, a rising senior studying neuroscience at Princeton University. That’s because Chambers has autism, which he said makes him extra sensitive to light and noise. But when Chambers got a concussion last fall, his “acute” sensitivity temporarily became even more severe. Side conversations and the clicking of keyboards drowned out his professor’s lecture and soon became indistinguishable white noise. Lights from pee

‘Enormous Surge’ in Unions Reflects Disconnect Between Colleges and Graduate Employees

Andrew Eneim has a front-row seat to what he describes as the “leaky pipeline” of graduate school. Low stipends, high workloads, and “rampant” poor treatment force some students, particularly those without independent wealth, to drop out and give up their tenure-track dreams to pursue more-secure careers, said Eneim, a Ph.D. candidate in biophysics at the Johns Hopkins University. Such working conditions, he said, exacerbate higher ed’s struggle to diversify the faculty. “We’re basically just

DEI Legislation Tracker

The Chronicle is tracking legislation that would prohibit colleges from having diversity, equity, and inclusion ; ban mandatory diversity training; prohibit institutions from using in hiring and promotion; or prohibit colleges from using race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in admissions or employment. All four proscriptions were identified in model state legislation proposed this year by the Goldwater and Manhattan Institutes. What Would the Legislation Restrict? The Chronicle look

Striking U. of Michigan Grad Students Aren’t Submitting Grades. The University Wants Faculty to Fill In.

Grades are due on Tuesday at the University of Michigan. With graduate students still on strike, administrators have directed some faculty to submit grades on their behalf. That isn’t sitting well with some faculty members who say that being forced to grade students they didn’t teach might be a violation of their academic freedom and professional ethics. The end-of-semester drama mirrors what happened across the University of California system last fall, when graduate students continued their

A California Bill Might (Again) Allow Athletes to Profit. This Time, the Colleges Would Be Paying.

When Chris Holden enrolled at San Diego State University, being a student wasn’t easy. That’s because he was on the basketball team, and since his scholarship was tied to his performance on the court, his athletic obligations often superseded his classes and any hope for leisure time. Workouts, classes, more workouts, and homework set the cadence of his days, not to mention travel to away games. “You have to work harder,” Holden said. “You have to study on airplanes; you have to study in lobbie
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