Joe Mathieu: When we describe politics in this country, the word "divided" is frequently used, and it's not just politics. We face cultural divides, religious divides, and economic divides. Our WGBH partner The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit reporting effort, is sending a team of five reporters across the country to explore some of these divisions in a project they're calling "Crossing The Divide." Eric Bosco is one of the reporters on the team. He's from Brockton and a graduate of UMass Amherst. Eric joins us from NPR in Springfield, where the GroundTruth team is reporting about educational inequality. Good morning, Eric and welcome.

Before we jump into the details of the past week, give us a sense of this project you're calling "Crossing The Divide," and specifically, what you're hoping to accomplish.

Eric Bosco: In a time of a divided America, we're making the effort to be in communities on the ground across the country and really listening to what people from all sorts of backgrounds have to say.

Joe Mathieu: So the first divide you wanted to investigate was education disparity in the Springfield area. What happened?

Eric Bosco: So initially we had thought about comparing Springfield to the town of Longmeadow because we found it interesting that so close together we could have two school districts that really are on the opposite ends of the performance scale. Springfield, sort of being traditionally underperforming, and Longmeadow being traditionally high-performing. But we had conversations with policy experts and it became clear that that was somewhat of a misguided direction. It's really not that simple. And one of the people that we talked to was former Massachusetts education secretary Paul Reville, and he said that merely focusing on Springfields schools versus the Longmeadow schools was too narrow and not fair to the students.

[Clip: Paul Reville]: Well, the students are high performing they're also very ... they're learning, kind of, 24/7 with all kinds of opportunities and supports out there, and they have a school system that has high expectations of them. And in this case access to more resources than typically you have in Springfield. So the whole deck is stacked.

Eric Bosco: So reporting moved away from that direct comparison and is now more focused broadly on the students lives, both in school and out of school. Students in Springfield experience more trauma, more poverty, less access to enrichment opportunities. So we wanted to showcase that in our reporting.

Joe Mathieu: So, Eric, what did you find?

Eric Bosco: We found that Commerce really had a bad reputation around Springfield as a failing school, and as a school that students really didn't want to go to. So we wanted to dig into that and determine whether that was a fair perception or not. And a lot of the students that we talked to did say ... it was their last choice for high school but they didn't really resent being there so much now that they had gone there. So it showed us that there was more to the story of Springfield and Commerce being under-performing, and maybe the divide in this situation is our understanding of an under-performing schools, and maybe we need to be focusing on the outside of school factors in addition to student performance on exams. Another thing that Commerce has going for it is that they've had really high administrator turnover in recent years since being declared a level 4 underperforming school by the state. More recently they have had continuity in their administrative team.

Joe Mathieu: We're talking with Eric Bosco of the GroundTruth project. Now that you have done your work in Springfield, Eric, what's next?

Eric Bosco: So, as we wrap up this week, we're heading to Kentucky where we'll be going to Pikeville, which is in Appalachian Kentucky. We're interested in looking there, sort of like we did with Commerce, at the perception of the place and trying to uncover the reality of it, and how residents there perceived their own experience.

Joe Mathieu: That was Eric Bosco, one of the reporters on the "Crossing The Divide" reporting project, a partnership between WGBH and The GroundTruth Project. You can follow the trip on social media at xthedivide on Twitter and Instagram. We'll be checking in with Eric as the team moves around the country. Eric, we thank you again for being with us on WGBH radio.

This transcript has been edited for clarity. To hear the full interview, click on the audio player above.