Staff Directory 303594441

MaryJo Webster

Data Editor | Newsroom
Phone: 612-673-1789
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

MaryJo Webster is the data editor for the Star Tribune. She teams up with reporters to analyze data for stories across a wide range of topics and beats. 


Webster has journalism degrees from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Recent content from MaryJo Webster
Minnesota has purchased the Bix Produce Co.’s former cold storage facility in St. Paul to use as a temporary morgue, bracing for a peak in COVID-19

Pandemic leads to 20% increase in overall deaths in Minnesota

In just seven weeks, the additional fatalities have cut into generations and communities, especially the elderly and people of color.
Tawnya Heino tried to connect to the internet for a Zoom call with her son's teacher at the end of their driveway in Chisholm, MN on Monday morning. T

Minnesota parents tell us what they really think of online learning

We asked parents to fill out a survey about how K-12 online learning is going as a result of the pandemic. Comments ranged from intense enthusiasm and gratitude for what teachers have done to immense frustration.
Tawnya Heino held up her son, Michael Zakrajshek's, phone so he could have a Zoom call with his teacher at the end of their driveway in Chisholm, Minn

Minnesota parents, educators stress need to maintain personal connection with students

A Star Tribune survey of parents shows that the more frequent the live video sessions between staff and students, the greater their satisfaction with their children's learning.
Miguel Leandro Stevens worked on a conversational exercise during an ESL class at Centennial Elementary School in Richfield, Minn., on Tuesday, May 7,

Minnesota schools will have to detail how they spend aid for struggling students

Legislative Auditor's Office says more disclosure is needed for aid intended to shrink achievement gap.
Laura Stand muestra a sus alumnos cómo rugir como parte de una lección de aprendizaje que está creando el lunes 30 de marzo de 2020. Stand es maest

Minnesota, how is remote learning going for your family?

Do you have children between kindergarten and 12th grade participating in online learning through their Minnesota school during this stay-at-home order period? We’d like to…
A police vehicle on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis in March.

COVID-related reforms bring cautious optimism from Twin Cities activists

The novel coronavirus has already seriously disrupted police and court systems in the Twin Cities, as elsewhere.
In this Tuesday, March 24, 2020 photo, a sign at a middle school in Orlando, Fla., reminds residents that April First is census day. The coronavirus h

On Census Day, about 44% of Minn. households have said: We're here

Officials hope more Minnesotans will complete the form online.
Tecara Ayler rested her head on the shoulder of Patricia Grant after a June 1, 2018, meeting with Mayor Jacob Frey to resolve housing issues with thei

Minnesota eviction numbers see dramatic decline in past decade

The number statewide has dropped 33% since the foreclosure crisis.
The home's lakeside.

Ranking the hottest housing markets in the Twin Cities

Find out how your community fared in our searchable Hot Housing Index for 2019.
Police spokesman Garrett Parten said criminal activity has increased in recent years in the areas surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium, concentrated primaril

Downtown East leads Mpls. neighborhoods in crime increase

The area, also known as East Town, was part of the nearly two-thirds of the city's 81 neighborhoods that saw an increase in overall crime in 2019, from the previous four-year average.
Matt and Shannon Riebow’s new house is in Lino Lakes. They wanted to stay in Circle Pines but couldn’t find a suitable larger house.

Once-obscure suburbs are the new hot housing markets

First-time buyers and baby boomers are getting priced out of newer, more expensive suburbs and popular urban neighborhoods.
People stood in the back of the room when an overflow crowd attended the Minneapolis School Board meeting in Minneapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Many

How Minneapolis might reshape its school district

Minneapolis has released five proposals to shift schools and students around the district.
St. Paul police investigated a fatal shooting in a car on Wayzata St. just east of Rice St. in November.

Violent crime dropped in St. Paul last year, despite record gun deaths

A Star Tribune analysis of newly released police data shows that while homicides soared in 2019, reports of aggravated assaults, rapes and robberies decreased, contributing to a reduction in overall violent crime.
Yellow law enforcement line with police car and lights in the background.

Fatal police encounters since 2000

The Star Tribune collected the names and stories of everyone who died after a physical confrontation with law enforcement in Minnesota since January 2000, and continues to update this database as new incidents occur.
Interviews went on at multiple tables during a recent Minnesota State Job Fair.

Minnesotans' income grew faster than inflation last year, while inequality expanded slightly

Latest Census survey shows more effects from retiring baby boomers.
Fifth graders worked on multiplication workbooks in 2013. In some districts, leaders say they are trying to do more to show both parents and students

More Minnesota students opt out of state tests, create a dilemma

Around the state, the rate of students choosing to bypass the state's largest standardized exams has risen steadily for more than a decade.
Single family home construction is booming at the Kingston Fields development in Cottage Grove. ] Shari L. Gross ¥ shari.gross@startribune.com Over t

How did Minnesota become one of the most racially inequitable states?

By almost any measurement, Minnesota is plagued by racial disparities — in unemployment, in poverty, in homeownership. Readers want to know what's behind the inequities.
Which Minnesota schools are scoring better than expected?

Which Minnesota schools are scoring better than expected?

A Star Tribune analysis of standardized math and reading test scores can determine whether schools are doing better than their demographics would suggest. Look up whether your school made the cut.
How much basic skills aid is your district getting to fight the achievement gap?

How much basic skills aid is your district getting to fight the achievement gap?

Nahomy Gonzalez Rivas and Aileen Garcia Romano worked on a conversational assignment during an ESL class at Centennial Elementary School in Richfield.

2019: $600M a year to fight Minnesota's achievement gap, yet it persists

It's tricky to track where the aid to schools is going – and whether it's working.
FILE - This Feb. 16, 2017 file photo shows newborn babies in the nursery of a postpartum recovery center in upstate New York. According to a governmen

How popular is your name in Minnesota?

Babies named Thea and Rhett are trending up in Minnesota, but how popular have they been over the last century?
Anoka High teacher Paul Heida helped sophomore Ebony Elliott, bottom right, with illustration software during yearbook class Tuesday. Last year, state

Minnesota graduation rate hits all-time high; racial gap narrows

More than 83 percent of students graduated on time, with some progress in narrowing the achievement gap.
Twenty years ago, an auto-immune disease caused Beth Ehresman, right, to have massive heart failure and now she is living on disability. She lives at

As rents rise in the Twin Cities, suburbs embrace affordable housing efforts

With rents rising across the metro, cities find stable options to help, and keep, tenants.
Rambo Islas, 8 months, is held by his mother Maria Islas, as he gets a shot for a vaccine administered by RN, Nicole Ives at the Dallas County Health

Look up vaccination rates at more than 2,900 Minnesota schools and day cares

Hundreds of Minnesota schools and child care centers face an increased risk of measles outbreaks because not enough of their students have been vaccinated.
Linsey Rippy’s daughters, Madi, 12, and Sydney, 9, have both had heart transplants. The girls take anti-rejection drugs that sap their ability to fi

With fewer kids vaccinated, more Minn. schools vulnerable

"Herd immunity" is lost in one-third of state schools, several of which have had chickenpox outbreaks since 2017. That's the same year unvaccinated children helped drive a measles outbreak.
“You’re dealing with physical evidence, emotion, trauma. This is more than going to a burglary," Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer said.

Police undertrained and overwhelmed by rape cases in Minnesota

Inadequate training for police who investigate sexual assaults, along with poor staffing and high turnover, plagues many police departments across the state – resulting in fewer charges against suspected offenders.
Minnesota defines consent as voluntary, but its exceptions for being too drunk to agree to sex are narrow.

How alcohol foils rape investigations

Police are less likely to interview witnesses, assign cases to a detective or forward them to a prosecutor if the victim was drinking, according to a Star Tribune analysis. When cases involving alcohol do reach prosecutors, suspects are much less likely to be charged with a crime or convicted.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

When rape is reported in Minnesota and nothing happens

A Star Tribune examination of more than 1,000 recent sexual assault cases shows pervasive failings by law enforcement — neglecting to interview witnesses, collect crucial evidence, or conduct criminal background checks on suspects. Many cases were never even assigned to an investigator.
Hoping others receive justice they were denied led many women to add their voices to the series investigating failed rape investigations.

When rape is reported and something happens

As dozens more women have stepped forward to tell their stories, reforms are underway in Minnesota. Victim advocates and rape survivors say they are heartened by the pledges of reform by police leaders, prosecutors and lawmakers.
When detective Justin Boardman realized he was failing sex assault victims, he decided to change — himself and his entire department in Utah.

A better way to investigate rape

Utah's shift is a promising sign of how a state can do more to help rape victims get the justice that so often eludes them — if everyone involved is working with the same priorities.
Survivors Rachel Radford, left, and Emma Top each knew their assailant and saw him sentenced, but both came away feeling the punishment was not severe

Convicted for rape in Minnesota, free from prison time

Felons spend less time in prison in Minnesota, and the state says that's by design.
Apple Valley High School social studies teacher Dennis Draughn helped seniors students prepare for their upcoming AP psychology final during a study h

Schools struggle with widening student and teacher racial gap

Minnesota's student body is rapidly becoming more diverse, while the teaching force remains mostly white.
Alesha Erickson was photographed in her apartment Sept. 21, 2018 in Mountain Iron, Minn. She was raped in a different unit in the building and moved t

Special Report: A victim heard, justice served

Many sexual assault reports in Minnesota are poorly investigated. Most don't result in charges or convictions. This one was different.
Bradley Traaseth asked authorities multiple times to file charges against the men suspected of raping his daughter, Hannah. He was unsuccessful.

Minnesota rape cases: Rejected by the prosecution

In Minnesota, half of sex assault cases police send to prosecutors never result in charges. Prosecutors reject cases that include DNA evidence, witnesses, and sometimes even confessions, records show.
Federal law is forcing health insurers next year to eliminate Medicare Cost plans across 66 counties in Minnesota.

Insurers target seniors with shifting Medicare options

New plans in mix as more than 300,000 Minnesota seniors seek new coverage.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. More than 480 struggling Minnesota schools are set to get additional help fro

Minnesota has new benchmarks for schools, IDs 485 for help

New accountability system is designed to give better picture of overall performances.
STEM teachers like Doug Mead, who teaches physics and chemistry, often make far less in the classroom than they could in the private sector.

Twin Cities STEM teachers are facing pay challenges

A Star Tribune analysis reveals that Twin Cities STEM teachers make less than many other kinds of teachers.
Tim Bildsoe led the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board, during a vote in 2017. “Everything is on the table,” Bildsoe said in an int

Minnesota police board promises steps to improve sex assault investigations

POST Board will prepare officer training standards and a model policy for sex assault investigations.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

Frey pledges 'care and compassion' for sex assault victims

Minneapolis mayor was responding to a report showing chronic failings in sex assault investigations in Minnesota.
After Chris Iles and his wife, Tinen, bought a bigger house, they rented out their Minneapolis bungalow.

No houses available to buy in Twin Cities? Blame rentals

More owners of affordable homes rent them out rather than offer them for sale.
Yellow law enforcement line with police car and lights in the background.

Fatal police encounters in Minnesota since 2000

More than 160 people have died in forceful encounters with law enforcement in Minnesota since 2000.
2017's most popular baby names: How popular is yours?

2017's most popular baby names: How popular is yours?

Whether you favor perennial favorites or trendier names, see how popular they've been in 2017 -- and in all the years going back to 1910.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty greeted supporters during his first public appearance after entering the race to seek a historic third term. He answered ques

Pawlenty laps GOP field with $1M in 3 weeks of fundraising

Tim Pawlenty has the money and name recognition to skip an unpredictable GOP endorsement convention and head straight to the primary.
Minneapolis was the behemoth when it came to payouts over police misconduct, with nearly $21 million over the past 11 years — 35 percent of the stat

Minn. cities, counties paid $60.8M in police misconduct claims in decade

From 2007 to 2017, Minnesota jurisdictions made at least 933 payouts for alleged misconduct. And they're on the rise.
At the Mahtomedi Athletic Fields, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the the new Wildwood Elementary site in fall 2013.

Open-enrollment winner Mahtomedi struggling to grow out of funding crunch

While interest in the east metro district is high, there are limits to how much it can grow.
Checking it out: Students from Minneapolis South High School toured the campus of Macalester College in St. Paul on Tuesday, when the state announced

High school graduation rates hit record high in Minnesota

In Minneapolis, the overall graduation rate dipped by one percentage point; St. Paul graduation rates inched up one point. A wide gap between white students and students of color persists.
Find the hottest Twin Cities housing markets of 2017

Find the hottest Twin Cities housing markets of 2017

For the second year, the Star Tribune compared home sale data in the Twin Cities to determine which cities had the hottest markets in 2017. How did your city fare?
Paul Teeter and Anna Case looked at the tile work in their new 2,100-square-foot, three-bedroom home in Richfield.

Hottest Twin Cities housing market still is Richfield

In-demand communities have affordable homes along commuter routes. Low-key Little Canada and Brooklyn Center posted the biggest gains in the index compiled by the Star Tribune.
Black drivers twice as likely as whites to be stopped by St. Paul police

Black drivers twice as likely as whites to be stopped by St. Paul police

Black motorists also were almost three times as likely to be frisked or searched.
GOP gubernatorial candidates Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens (center left) and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (center right) talked b

In the money chase, DFL candidates for governor beating Republicans

Large imbalance in money raised last year has some in the GOP worried.
Tracking fundraising in Minnesota's gubernatorial race

Tracking fundraising in Minnesota's gubernatorial race

As of the most recent filing, the DFL's gubernatorial candidates are out-raising the GOP.
Last year, students who live in Eden Prairie boarded a school bus to the Minnetonka district, they attend school.

Open enrollment keeps students, resources flowing into Minnetonka

Minnetonka school officials criticized on two fronts: Race and numbers.
Die-hard Viking fans Heidi Clapp, Kindra Egge and Melissa Morissette were super disappointed after a shocking loss to the Atlanta Falcons in January 1

Are the Vikings the NFL's most tragic playoff team?

A Star Tribune analysis shows the Vikings do unexpectedly lose a significant number of postseason games, but aren't necessarily the worst.
Can you guess how Minnesota's population has changed over time?

Can you guess how Minnesota's population has changed over time?

Try your hand as demographer and draw where you think the trend lines go.
The Capitol is seen in Washington, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, as Congress returns to face action on the GOP tax bill and funding the government before the

Tax plan would have dramatic effect in Minnesota

The state's businesses stand to get large tax cuts, while limits on deductions for state and local taxes could pinch individuals and families who itemize.
Students on the University of Minnesota campus.

How broke students are driving up poverty rates in small college towns

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates how much students influence poverty rates.
Gravel roads in a rural area in Colgate, Minn.

Three things the latest census data tells us about the Upper Midwest

U.S. Census Bureau data released last week sheds light on demographics and economics of counties and other small areas.
Criminal defense lawyer Fred Bruno consulted with his client Brian R. Johnson outside a courtroom at the Dakota County District Court, Wednesday, Apri

PART 3: How Minn. officers accused of serious crimes plea bargain to keep jobs

Officers with convictions – which might have cost them their careers in other states – can exploit weaknesses in Minnesota's licensing rules to keep their jobs.
Students practice shotgun basics at the state academy in Salem run by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. Oregon’s police

What Minnesota can learn from Oregon on police oversight

In Oregon, police officers can be disciplined for infractions that wouldn't even trigger a state review here. The northwestern state has become a national model for rigorous licensing, with lessons for Minnesota in police accountability and improving public confidence.
In Minnesota, law enforcement officers can stay on the job for years even when a judge or jury finds them guilty of criminal behavior.

Minnesota police officers convicted of serious crimes still on the job

Over the past two decades, hundreds of Minnesota law enforcement officers have been convicted of criminal offenses. Most were never disciplined by the state. More than 140 are still on the job.
Laura Bloomberg of Buffalo, Minn., said she still lives with the effects of domestic abuse.

PART 2: A blind spot for officers involved in domestic violence in state

The state rarely sanctions police officers in domestic violence cases, a glaring weakness that police chiefs and victim advocates say needs to change.
Kathryn Lusack checked in with her son, Roderick Bright, 11, when he took a water break during football practice Tuesday evening at Knob Hill Park in

School choice splits Twin Cities suburbs into haves, have-nots

Parents are going the distance to enroll their children in schools that offer the programs and services they want, effectively redrawing the map of district boundaries in the process.
Mastery School students make their way off the school bus in August at a Minneapolis charter school that's part of the Harvest Network.

Minneapolis' black families lead way in fleeing to other schools

Reasons for leaving the district range from safety concerns to a belief that academics elsewhere are better than in Minneapolis, which has struggled for years to close the achievement gap between white and black students.
Minneapolis skyline with Capella Tower, IDS, Foshay, others.

Minorities make modest economic gains in Minnesota, new census data shows

Black, Hispanic and American Indian households in Minnesota made modest economic gains last year, but remain far behind whites and Asians, according to new census data.
Third-graders at the Community School of Excellence, a St. Paul charter school, listened in Hmong language class.

Rising exodus of students puts more pressure on Minnesota schools

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, a third of the students are now leaving for other districts. The student flight is magnifying budget pressures and transforming the racial diversity of metro-area schools.
Safeway driving instructor Chuck Walerius, a retired state trooper, at right, gave a behind-the-wheel lesson to Joey Sullivan, 16, on Thursday in Eden

Minnesota teen driving deaths plummet: Better drivers or fewer teens?

The trend seems to reflect more restrictive licensing laws and changes in teen interests and behavior.
Barton Open School students in a combination third- and fourth-grade class taught by Jaci Sullivan socialized while eating lunch in their classroom th

Minnesota math scores down a bit; reading results are flat

"It's frustrating to see test scores slowly increasing over time, but there's more to providing a student with a well-rounded education than can be seen in a test," Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement.
Students are selected as National Merit Semifinalists based on results of a PSAT qualifying test.

Find your Minnesota school's math and reading test scores

Use the database to track your school's proficiency in math and reading.

History of gas line accidents in Minnesota since 1998

Before Wednesday’s explosion at Minnehaha Academy, gas distribution lines have experienced at least 41 major accidents in Minnesota since 2004, federal data show. The most…
Bridge construction crew worked on replacing the Eisenhower Bridge, Thursday, July 20, 2017 on the Wisconsin side across from Red Wing, MN. The bridge

Minnesota's riskiest bridges repaired after I-35W collapse

State leaders set aside $2.5 billion for the program over the past decade, allowing the state to more aggressively tackle a backlog of bridge repairs. It also has left the state with one of the lowest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the nation.
Not a fan of trade deal: On his dairy farm in Goodhue, Minn., Dave Buck says he and other Minnesota milk producers would like to sell more to Canada,

Trump's pushback on NAFTA has the attention of Minnesota's economy

President Trump's vow to renegotiate the trade pact with Canada and Mexico could have big impact on Minnesota's economy.
Arrival of settlers, Redwood Falls, August 1869.

Welcome to the 1860s, when most Minnesotans were born in another country

A lot has changed in the 150 years since the Star Tribune began as the Minneapolis Tribune. Here's a look at why the 1860s were a pivotal decade of change for Minnesotans.
Real estate agent Joslyn Solomon, left, chatted with Erin Simonson, right, as her daughter ate peaches in the kitchen. She was visiting to discuss wha

Equity-strapped sellers keep starter homes in short supply

More than 20 percent of metro homeowners who have a mortgage wouldn't clear enough money in a sale to cover real estate commissions and other selling costs and to make a down payment on another home, according to a Star Tribune analysis.
Find out whether lack of home equity is a problem where you live

Find out whether lack of home equity is a problem where you live

More than 20 percent of Twin Cities mortgaged homeowners don't have enough equity to cover the cost of selling and moving up, stifling house listings.
Minnesota Poll results: Distracted driving

Minnesota Poll results: Distracted driving

The most recent Star Tribune poll, conducted between April 24 and 26, asked registered Minnesota voters about distracted driving. Here's what they said:    table…