Sammy Mack

Reporter

Public radio. Public health. Public policy.

Most days, Mack covers health care policy for WLRN – Miami Herald News. Her health care journalism is supported by a fellowship with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Like most folks who've worked at a member station, she's worn a lot of hats: interim digital editor during the re-launch of WLRN.org, assistant producer for The Florida Roundup, morning news producer, intern coordinator, party planner. She was one half of the StateImpact Florida education reporting team. 

Her stories have appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, Health News Florida, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with A Green Eyeshade Award for Investigative Journalism, and Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won a Third Coast International Audio Festival bronze award, an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

Ways to Connect

Sammy Mack / WLRN

 

Journalist Nathan Deuel grew up in South Florida, but in 2008 he and his wife, Kelly McEvers, moved to the Middle East. 

During their five years abroad, they had their first child and McEvers became NPR’s Baghdad bureau chief. The family moved around the region as the Arab Spring erupted. 

Deuel has written a memoir about that experience, called "Friday Was The Bomb." He’ll be speaking tonight at Books & Books in Coral Gables at 8 p.m. 

Patrisyu / freedigitalphotos.net

 

A ProPublica investigation earlier this month looked at how Medicare providers charged for their services in 2012 and found unusual billing patterns among a number of Florida care providers.

On average, most providers only charged for the most complex, expensive level of care during office visits about 4 percent of the time. But in Florida, nearly 100 Medicare providers with relatively high volume billed at the most expensive rate 100 percent of the time.

Beckham/Miami

David Beckham’s group unveiled new drawings Thursday for the proposed soccer stadium in Downtown Miami. 

The plan would fill in the boat slip between the AmericanAirlines Arena and Museum Park. The renderings included a public park with retail space that would be open all year. 

“This is what Museum Park can never be without this intervention: a grand sweep of abundant acreage along a great bay,” said John Alschuler, Beckham’s real-estate advisor. 

cooldesign / freedigitalphotos.net

A group of Florida doctors has been charging Medicare at a surprisingly high rate.

A ProPublica investigation analyzed a recently released Medicare database and found unusual billing patterns in Florida and elsewhere. ProPublica used that same data to create an online tool that lets patients see how individual doctors compare to their peers when it comes to procedures and billing patterns.

stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

Students and civil rights activists have asked Gov. Rick Scott to hold black and Hispanic students to a higher standard. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Dream Defenders were in Tallahassee this week to deliver a petition — with 5,800 signatures — protesting Florida’s race-based academic goals.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education — the Supreme Court decision declaring segregated schools were inherently unequal.

A recent ProPublica investigation found at least 300 school districts that are still under court-ordered desegregation. Eleven of those districts are in Florida.

Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net

Miami-Dade County’s Black Affairs Advisory Board and Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board spent four hours talking race, diversity and inclusion yesterday.

The discourse was a response to a racially charged commission debate over a county contract last February.

Over the course of three panels, it was made clear that the February venom was just the most recent episode in a long history of unease between Miami’s black and Hispanic communities.

Maria Murriel / WLRN

The actor Sir Patrick Stewart is best known in the United States for his roles on stage and on screen. But you might be surprised to learn that the man who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard is chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, a 20,000-student university in England.

Stewart was in South Florida this past week for Going Global, an international higher education conference sponsored by the British Council.

Photo by Norm Robbie (Flickr) / Illustration by Sammy Mack

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is dying, say Florida education officials. By this time next year, the FCAT will be replaced with a new, Common Core-aligned assessment.

FCAT was born in 1995 in the humid June of a Tallahassee summer.

The Florida Commission on Education Reform and Accountability under Gov. Lawton Chiles gave birth to the test. It was part of a series of recommendations that were meant to give local districts more control and a better sense of how their schools were doing.

STEVENM_61 / Flickr.com

The 2014 Florida legislative session reached the halfway point last week, so we thought we’d check in on some of the big education bills.

THE BUDGET

The House, Senate and Gov. Rick Scott mostly agree on education spending based on their proposed budgets.

National anti-crime group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a position paper last week in favor of Florida’s new standards for English language arts and math. The group argues assessments and higher standards can prevent crime.

Here’s the paper’s summary of the connection:

@FLGovScott / Twitter

Gov. Rick Scott visited the Miami Children’s Museum Monday to promote the state’s preschool program.

The governor stood against a backdrop of finger paint and glitter and talked about increasing funding for early learning.

StateImpact Florida was there. You can listen to the full report:

Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

It’s report card day at Miami Carol City Senior High, and sophomore Mack Godbee is reviewing his grades with his mentor, Natasha Santana-Viera.

The first quarter on Godbee’s report card is littered with Ds and Fs. This quarter, there are more Cs and Bs. He’s got an A in English.

“Congratulations on that,” says Santana-Viera. “When you need help, do you know where to go?”

“Straight to y’all,” says Godbee.

For all of California's troubles advertising health care to Latinos, that state has embraced the Affordable Care Act and is spending millions of dollars to get people to sign up. Florida is a different story.

Florida has a high rate of uninsured Latinos - almost 10 percent of all the country's uninsured Hispanics who are eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act live in the state.

NEA Public Relations

In his State of the State address on Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott promoted his $18.8 billion budget for education.

But if it were up to Florida Education Association president Andy Ford, there would be even more money going to Florida’s public schools.

The Florida Education Association is the state umbrella group for Florida teachers’ unions. Before the legislative session began, Ford sat down with StateImpact Florida to talk about policy priorities this year.

Q: Where is FEA on the Common Core State Standards now?

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