Education Desk

Credit Dan LoGrasso / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

See the latest reports from NPR Illinois Education Desk reporter Dusty Rhodes. 

The NPR Illinois Education Desk is a community funded initiative to report on stories that impact you.  Stories on the state of education from K-12 to higher education written by Illinois and national journalists.

Funders include:

  • Anonymous Individual Donors
  • Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln
  • Hope Institute for Children and Families
  • Horace Mann Company
  • HSHS St. John's Hospital
  • Illinois Education Association
  • Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance
  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • UIS College of Education & Human Services

Ways to Connect

With student debt at a staggering $1.3 trillion, many families are facing a huge financial dilemma: their final springtime decisions about college enrollment and acceptance. The NPR Ed team teamed up with Weekend Edition to answer some listener questions about debt and degrees.

Waiting on the numbers

Marcy, from Union City, N.J. has twin girls going off to college in September.

His Teacher Told Him He Wouldn't Go To College, Then He Did

5 hours ago

One day Ronnie Sidney, from Tappahannock, Va., was goofing off with his classmates in math when one of them threw a football at the board — and it landed a little too close to the teacher. Sidney says the ninth-grade teacher, visibly frustrated, turned around and said, " 'None of you are going to college.' "

Greetings and welcome to NPR Ed's weekly roundup of education news from Washington and around the country.

Supreme Court hears a voucher-related case

Organizers of Saturday's nationwide March for Science have some pretty lofty goals: supporting science "as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity." Promoting "evidence-based policies in the public interest." Oh, and don't forget highlighting "the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world."

Whoa, that's a lot of exalted ground to cover with one cardboard sign!

Chalkboard with mathmatic formulas
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

School funding is one of the key issues in the General Assembly’s budget debate. Everyone agrees the current funding formula needs to change, but there’s less agreement on how to fix it. A bipartisan effort is poised for a floor vote in the House, but in the Senate, compromise appears to have fallen apart.

Like any good fifth-grade teacher, Mike Matthews wants to make his social studies unit on the American West as exciting as possible. So he's planning a special "Wild West" evening at the school with his students.

"We're going to have good ol' cowboy-fashion hot dogs and beans, Texas Toast and beef jerky," he says. Matthews will tell stories around a mock campfire, and for added authenticity, the fifth-graders will set up a saloon.

Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appointed Candice Jackson as the acting assistant secretary of the Office for Civil Rights. Jackson will oversee a staff of hundreds charged with responding to thousands of civil rights complaints every year, including some from students who feel discriminated against based on race, color, national origin, sex, ability, and age.

Mariah Evans, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, began to notice a trend in her morning classes: Her students were falling asleep.

While this would make most feel discouraged in their teaching abilities or agitated over their students' idleness, Evans instead was curious. Was there more to this than just laziness?

The crisis in Syria has displaced about 1.4 million children and teenagers from their homes. An estimated 900,000 of them are not in school.

Historically, in conflict zones, education has taken a backseat to immediate needs like food, shelter and medical care. But more recently, there has been a movement in the international aid community to provide better "education in emergencies."

Girindra Nath Jha was born and raised in the tiny village of Chanka, a settlement in the state of Bihar in northern India, close to the Nepal border. It's mostly grassy fields and mud huts with thatched roofs. It gets just seven hours of electricity per day and its first paved road arrived only last year. None of the homes have toilets.

And a lot of its 7,000 residents have gray hair.

Every day in this country students come to school without a way to pay for lunch. Right now it's up to the school to decide what happens next.

Since new legislation out of New Mexico on so-called lunch shaming made headlines, we've heard a lot about how schools react.

What will our dinners look like when temperatures and sea levels rise and water floods our coastal towns and cities?

Allie Wist, 29, an associate art director at Saveur magazine, attempts to answer that question in her latest art project, "Flooded." It's a fictional photo essay (based on real scientific data) about a dinner party menu at a time when climate change has significantly altered our diets.

Greetings and welcome to our weekly roundup of education news from Washington and around the country:

DeVos hires

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made her first official staff announcement this week, with 10 names.

Among them: Josh Venable, will serve as DeVos' chief of staff. He worked on the presidential campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and is an advocate of both school choice and the Common Core.

This weekend marks 10 years since the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history, at Virginia Tech.

Thirty-two people were killed and many others injured on April 16, 2007, on the campus in Blacksburg, Va. Still others witnessed the shooting and were physically unharmed, but carry psychological wounds that they've also spent the last decade recovering from.

Campus entry signage
University of Illinois Springfield

Professors at the University of Illinois Springfield could go on strike. That’s the result of a vote this week by United Faculty, a chapter of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Kristi Barnwell, a history professor and vice-president of the faculty union, says the vote doesn’t necessarily mean they will strike.

 

“We’re still hoping that we don’t have to, and that the university’s administration will make some meaningful progress in negotiations at our next bargaining session," she says. "But we needed to let them know that the option is on the table, and our membership is ready if it comes down to that.”

 

Americans were once again forced to grapple with gun violence in schools when three people were killed in a murder-suicide in San Bernardino, Calif., on Monday, less than a week before the 10th anniversary of the nation's worst school shooting.

On the morning of April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, a student at Virginia Tech, killed 32 students and teachers and wounded 17 others. Until last year's massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, it was the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

When I was 4 years old, my parents faced a decision. My birthday is in late November, so should they send me to kindergarten as the youngest kid in my class? Or, wait another year to enroll me? — A practice referred to as academic redshirting.

Since I was already the oldest sibling, they decided it was time for me to experience something different. So, they sent me to school.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Ever since the crisis in Flint, Michigan was publicized, concern over the presence of lead in water has reached a fever pitch. Law makers across the country have reacted with legislation addressing the issue in their home states. Illinois is one of them - a new law requires some public schools to test for it.

On the Navajo Nation, kids with the most severe developmental disabilities attend a school called Saint Michael's Association for Special Education.

Dameon David, 8, is waking up from a nap in his classroom. He has come to the school in northeastern Arizona for four years. He has cerebral palsy, seizures and scoliosis. His mom, Felencia Woodie, picks him up from a bed with Superman sheets.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois lawmakers from both political parties seem to be gathering behind a new school funding plan called the "evidence-based model." Today, Jason Barickman, a Republican from Bloomington, announced that he plans to file his own version in the Senate.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Now a remembrance of a man who gave more than $100 million over his lifetime to education, a man whose philanthropy started seemingly on a whim.

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Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

With multiple legislative proposals, a task force and a lawsuit all aimed at overhauling the way Illinois funds its schools, it’s hard to predict what might happen. But in this chat that aired on Tuesday, our Capitol Bureau reporter Brian Mackey makes me try.  

Credit Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Lawmakers have been trying to change the way Illinois funds schools for years now, with no luck. But a new plan called the Evidence Based Model seems to be gaining momentum.

Robbinsville High School sits in a small gap in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Green slopes dotted with cattle hug in around the school before they rise into a thick cover of pine trees.

David Matheson is the principal here. And he's the only high school principal in the state who still performs corporal punishment. At Robbinsville, corporal punishment takes the form of paddling - a few licks on the backside Matheson delivers with a long wooden paddle.

Lawyers for Rolling Stone and Nicole Eramo, a former University of Virginia associate dean, have reached a confidential settlement over a 2014 story in the magazine about an alleged gang rape on campus.

In the defamation case, Eramo alleged the article portrayed her as indifferent to victims of sexual assault.

Tennessee caused a stir earlier this year when it ran an audit of the state's 2015 graduating class. The number crunchers in Nashville reported that nearly a third of students who received a diploma didn't complete the required coursework. One in three.

Naturally, parents and politicians alike were baffled and more than a little bothered.

New York state has passed legislation that would create the largest experiment in the country to offer free tuition at two- and four-year colleges. The Excelsior Scholarship, approved over the weekend as part of the state budget, would cover full-time students in the State University of New York system, which totals 64 campuses and 1.3 million students.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and state education leaders in an event hailing the new program, which would begin this fall and is estimated to cost $163 million per year.

CREDIT SIU.EDU

The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees last week pushed off a major financial decision.

How important is it to have a role model?

A new working paper puts some numbers to that question.

Having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade reduced low-income black boys' probability of dropping out of high school by 39 percent, the study found.

And by high school, African-American students, both boys and girls, who had one African-American teacher had much stronger expectations of going to college. Keep in mind, this effect was observed seven to ten years after the experience of having just one black teacher.

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