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The American education system started 2017 out with a bang. In January, we witnessed the heated confirmation hearings that led billionaire philanthropist and charter school advocate Betsy DeVos to become the "most polarizing" secretary of education of all time. DeVos' Department of Education quickly set about dismantling some of her predecessor's biggest accomplishments: protections for student loan borrowers, aggressive policies for handling accusations of sexual assault on college campuses, and discrimination guidelines specific to transgender students and students with disabilities, to name just a few. Meanwhile, college debt continued to balloon, and economic prospects for Millennials—many of them students—continue to look grim. Education reporting everywhere closed the year with some validation: Nikole Hannah-Jones, who reports rigorously on the persistence of school segregation, won a MacArthur "genius" grant. At least people are paying attention to the work.

In addition to these developments, Pacific Standard spent the year charting interesting and offbeat facets of the education system, from children's heightened trust of libraries in these fractured times to Nazis' history of worship for J.R.R. Tolkien.

Below, Pacific Standard's best reporting on inequities in education.