New School News

Making a Difference with Clara Hemphill

Clara Hemphill, senior editor of The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, a public policy research institute, is a serious multi-tasker and not one to let an opportunity go by. As she’s being interviewed for this story, she’s finishing up an interview with a local community paper about the state of public education and budget cuts. This drive is one of the many reasons she has been so good at what she does.

As a reporter and editorial writer for New York Newsday, Hemphill shared the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting at New York Newsday. As foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and a producer for CBS News based in Rome in the 1980s, she covered the war in Lebanon, the attempted assassination of the Pope, and numerous Mafia murders. In 2008 Hemphill came to The New School.

As senior editor at the center, a think tank dedicated to improving the effectiveness of government and other organizations in their work with urban families and lower-income communities, Hemphill focuses on public education and child welfare. Basically, we identify fixable problems and work with government and other organizations to make improvements,, explained Hemphill.

She is the go-to person on stories dealing with public education for national newspapers including the New York Times. She has recently commented on student over-crowdedness, absenteeism, and the reorganization of the New York City’s Education Department. As a writer, editor, and public school parent dedicated to informing others about New York City’s public schools, she is the founding editor of, a project of Advocates for Children, which promotes access to the best education New York can provide for all students. She is also the author of what many call the bibles to the New York City public schools.

What gave her the idea to write these guides to elementary, middle school and high school years? My children were entering school and there was a void of information for parents to make informed decisions, and so I decided that this needed to be done., This hands-on approach is comprehensive and thorough like Hemphill herself.

This brings us back to why she is now at The New School. When I was a reporter, I filed a 600-word story. Being part of a think tank, I can use what I find out and create a report to affect change. It’s here that we can connect academics to the real world.,

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