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

The new animated movie, Boss Baby, was No. 1 at the box office last weekend. But before it was a full-length film, starring the voice of Alec Baldwin, it was a 32-page picture book written by award-winning author and illustrator Marla Frazee.

Frazee is a big name for young readers and their parents — the imagination behind Seven Silly Eaters and All the World. Her illustrations have earned two Caldecott Honors.

NPR Ed spoke with Frazee about the book and the new animated hit it inspired. The story of the Boss Baby is simple, she says:

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

Art Ryan, superintendent of Cahokia schools, addresses media with other superintendents who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Gov. Bruce Rauner and the State Board of Education.
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A Chicago law firm representing a group of mostly rural school superintendents sued the state of Illinois today. They're asking Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state board of education to come up with a funding formula that would help schools meet the state's learning standards.

The 17 superintendents say that — between Illinois' notoriously inequitable funding formula and years of reduced state spending — this lawsuit is their last resort.

In Kansas, a student newspaper is being praised for its hard work in reporting that Pittsburg High School's newly hired principal had seemingly overstated her credentials. The principal, Amy Robertson, has now resigned, after the paper found she claimed advanced degrees from Corllins University, an entity whose legitimacy has been questioned.

Editor's note: This story contains language that may be offensive to some readers.

Hate incidents can happen anywhere: the mall, the church, the office. But, in the wake of the 2016 election, hate's been showing up a lot in school.

Imagine if one notice from the federal government could cause you to question your major life decisions.

More than half a million people may have found themselves in that situation after a new legal filing by the Education Department.

Under a program known as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, some student loan borrowers were supposed to be able to have the balance of their student loans forgiven after ten years of both on-time payments and eligible work in the public sector. Meaning, a qualifying nonprofit, federal, local, state, or tribal government.

Barbara Wheeler headshot
Illinois General Assembly

In a way, it's just one little box on a lengthy college application form. But for many would-be students, that box is more of a stop sign if the instructions say "check here if you have a criminal record." State Rep. Barbara Wheeler, a Republican from Crystal Lake, wants to change that. She sat down with our Education Desk reporter Dusty Rhodes to explain why.

A new legal filing by the Education Department last week calls into question the future of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which allowed student loan borrowers to have their loans forgiven after 10 years of work in the public sector.

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

On March 24, Manish Khari, an Indian teenager in Greater Noida, a city on the outskirts of India's capital New Delhi, went for a walk and did not come home.

Someone said he had been seen with some Nigerian students who lived a few doors down. An angry crowd barged into their house but could not find the boy. A rumor spread that boy could not be found because the Nigerians were involved in cannibalism.

I deeply sympathize with students looking for internships, especially now that I'm an intern at NPR. Gathering all the materials to apply is usually time-consuming and stressful. Indeed, the folder "Internships Summer 2016" on my laptop contains 23 different cover letters and 23 versions of my resume.

Recent college graduates who borrow are leaving school with an average of $34,000 in student loans. That's up from $20,000 just 10 years ago, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Last week, when Southern Illinois University revealed that its main campus in Carbondale needs to borrow money from its Edwardsville location, the news seemed shocking. Who knew SIU was in such dire straits? It wasn’t the kind of news any school would want to broadcast.

As President Trump moves to fulfill his campaign promise to deport millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally, they'll most likely include Mexicans whose children were born in the U.S.. Over half a million of these kids are already in Mexico.

Researchers call them "los invisibles", the invisible ones, because they often end up in an educational limbo of sorts. Most don't read or write in Spanish, so they're held back. Many get discouraged and stop going to school. In some cases schools even refuse to enroll them.

Welcome to another weekly roundup from the NPR Ed Team, where we lasso the latest news on student aid, school choice, and more.

Trump University settlement finalized

Thousands of students are set to get money back now that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has finalized the $25 million fraud settlement against Trump University.

A federal judge has approved a $25 million settlement deal between President Trump and students who paid for Trump University real estate seminars, bringing lengthy litigation to a close.

The deal, which calls for Trump to reimburse the students who say they were defrauded, was struck in November but needed approval from U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. He signed off on the settlement Friday in San Diego.

Trump doesn't admit any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement.

Will Davis headshot
Illinois General Assembly

The effort to overhaul the way Illinois funds public schools has been gaining momentum over the past few years, and yesterday, the latest plan got the green light to be heard by the House of Representatives. Sponsored by State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood), the plan cleared committee on a 15-1-0 vote, marking the first time in recent history that a school funding plan got bipartisan support.

That's despite the fact that Davis chose not to provide a spreadsheet showing how much money each district would get.

They're called "my wife," and it seems they've done it all: typed, transcribed and even researched for their scholar husbands.

And, through a hashtag that started last weekend, their work also started a conversation on the uncredited female labor in academia.

Seventeen-year-old Indrani Das just won the top high school science prize in the country. Das, who lives in Oradell, N.J., took home $250,000 from the former Intel Science Talent Search, now the Regeneron Science Talent Search, for her study of brain injuries and neuron damage. In her spare time, she's already working with patients as a certified EMT.

Muslim children are more likely to be bullied in school than children of other faiths. A new survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) reveals that 42 percent of Muslims with children in K–12 schools report bullying of their children because of their faith, compared with 23 percent of Jewish and 20 percent of Protestant parents.

These results confirm recent findings by other research and advocacy groups showing that bullying of students of color is on the rise.

Sen. Jason Barickman headshot
Illinois General Assembly

School funding has been one of the most hotly debated issues in the statehouse, but in recent days, there’s been a glimmer of hope. A Democrat filed new funding plan, and a key Republican in the Illinois Senate appeared to endorse it, issuing a statement saying that he was “cautiously optimistic.” Was this the beginning of a bipartisan solution? We decided to do a reality check.

 

A New Kind Of March Madness Hits Schools

Mar 29, 2017

It's a little after 8 a.m. at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., and Michelle Harris' AP Environmental Science class is getting right to it.

"All right, you guys got your brackets out?" Harris asks.

The class of mostly juniors and seniors ruffle through folders and pull out pieces of paper with brackets — 64 slots, four quadrants, and one central box to predict the championship. But there's something a little different about these brackets ...

"We're going to jump down to the fourth-seeded spider monkey against the 12th-seeded antelope squirrel," Harris says.

It's clear from the numbers. Google has a diversity problem.

For the past few years, the company has publicly shared its workplace makeup in a report detailing the race, gender and ethnicity of each employee hired the previous year. Last year, while the number of black employees went up, they still represented only 2 percent of the company's workforce and Google admitted it fell short of its diversity goal.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Lawmakers have been working on a new school funding model for the past few years, but some school districts have gotten impatient and decided to take the issue to court. So far, 16 school boards have voted to join the lawsuit, which will be filed by Chicago labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan.

Last week, I interviewed two of the superintendents involved in the lawsuit.

For-profit colleges have faced federal and state investigations in recent years for their aggressive recruiting tactics — accusations that come as no surprise to author Tressie McMillan Cottom.

More than 650,000 prisoners are released every year in the U.S., but no federal agency tracks the unemployment rate for this population. Experts say low reading and technological literacy, as well as reluctance among employers to hire former convicts, means many drop out of the labor force altogether.

It's a perennial debate in American education: Do kids learn best when they're sitting in rows at their desks? Or moving around, exploring on their own?

Back in the 1960s and '70s, that debate led to a brand new school design: Small classrooms were out. Wide-open spaces were in. The Open Education movement was born.

Across the U.S., schools were designed and built along these new ideas, with a new approach to the learning that would take place inside them.

Copyright 2017 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

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Copyright 2017 KQED Public Media. To see more, visit KQED Public Media.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Washington, D.C.'s Capital City Public Charter School feels like a mini United Nations. Many of the school's 981 students are first-generation Americans with backgrounds spanning the globe, from El Salvador to Nigeria to Vietnam. So when the staff of the literacy non-profit 826DC began a book-publishing project with the junior class, they picked a topic everyone could relate to that also left room for cultural expression: food.

Sixteen-year-old Na Da Laing struggled in elementary school.

"I was different from other students," she remembers. "I couldn't speak English at all."

Now, eight years later, she's reading George Orwell's Animal Farm.

In the U.S., roughly one in 10 students is an English language learner.
Many schools struggle to help them feel comfortable with their new language. Helping them get ahead and to college is another challenge entirely.

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