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

Plenty of college courses delve into the big philosophical questions of life, but Norma Bowe's class was different. For years, the nurse and college professor taught a class that forced students to confront death head-on — there were poems about death, trips to cemeteries and funeral homes, and "goodbye letter" writing assignments. At its core, the class became an opportunity for students to try to come to grips with the death or pending death of a loved one in their own lives.

President Obama thinks more poor kids who are good students should be enrolled in the country's best colleges and universities. Too often, he says, kids from lower income families don't even apply to the best schools, where they might have a good chance of getting financial aid.

This week, he gathered the heads of 100 colleges and universities to a meeting at the White House to discuss how to change this situation for the better. I hope he is successful.

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And I'm Melissa Block. In New Orleans, a court decision threatens to bankrupt the public school system. A state appeals court ruled that the school board for Orleans Parrish wrongly terminated some 7,000 teachers and other school employees after Hurricane Katrina. They're to be awarded two to three years back pay.

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Alabama State University will soon have its first female president. But trustees at the historically black college put a stipulation in her contract that critics say is a setback for equality.

Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd will become the president of her alma mater next month. Her contract requires the 58-year-old engineer to move into the president's home on the Alabama State University campus in Montgomery.

Can Grandmothers Change The World?

Jan 17, 2014

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Disruptive Leadership.

About Bunker Roy's TED Talk

Bunker Roy shares stories from a school in India that equips rural women for leadership by training them to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors.

About Bunker Roy

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama met today with over 140 college presidents at the White House. Also present at the event, were dozens of organizations committed to raising the number of low-income students who attend college.

No more than half of low-income high school graduates apply to college, so the President has asked the first lady to spearhead a national effort to encourage colleges — the more selective ones, in particular — to admit and graduate more students who are poor.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Bryn Mawr College is located just outside Philadelphia, but every year the school goes looking for students in Boston.

Bryn Mawr typically admits 10 low-income students from the Boston area each year, providing them with financial assistance and introducing them to one another in hopes that they will form a network and support each other as they navigate their college years.

Bryn Mawr doesn't stop in Boston. Working with the nonprofit groups Posse Foundation and College Match, the college actively seeks to enroll low-income students who show great promise.

news.illinois.edu

The former director of bands at the University of Illinois has pleaded guilty to stealing musical instruments from the school and sentenced to a form of probation.  

Robert Rumbelow pleaded guilty Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court to one count of felony theft. According to The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1doNcdP) he was sentenced to two years of conditional discharge.  
Rumbelow declined comment through his attorney.  

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A long-running school desegregation fight in Arkansas is over, after a federal judge accepted a settlement reached by the state, lawyers for black students, and three school districts in and around Little Rock. Under the deal, the state will no longer have to send payments — around $70 million this year — to aid desegregation.

According to the terms of the deal, those payments can stop after the 2017-2018 school year. They had been mandated by a court-ordered program that also included forming magnet schools and shifting students between school districts.

U Of I Proposes Tuition Hike For Fall

Jan 13, 2014
U of I

University of Illinois Trustees have been asked to increase tuition within the rate of inflation for next academic year.

At their meeting in Chicago next week, they’ll be asked to raise it by 1.7 % on the three campuses, the same increase approved for last fall.    A Trustees committee recommended the plan Monday. 

It would raise tuition for in-state students to about $12,000 at the Urbana-Champaign campus, nearly $10,600 in Chicago and around $9,400 in Springfield.  Only incoming students would pay the higher rates.

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Today, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state's healthier finances will mean billions of dollars of new spending. The winners in the governor's proposed record budget include schools and welfare. He also wants millions spent on maintaining roads and parks.

Rosa Solache was fed up with getting teased every day before school, between classes, and even on the way home, so one day she punched her antagonist in the face.

"I was really sick of it and I had told the teacher, but no one was doing anything, so I said, 'What the heck, I'm going to take care of this by myself.'"

Solache was an eighth-grader at the time, 12 years old, and until that day, she says, "I had always been a good girl."

Deadlines to apply for colleges are coming up - and some experts say a lot of qualified minority students won't be applying to the top schools. Host Michel Martin speaks with Donald Fraser, Jr., of CollegeSnapps, Inc. and Caroline Hoxby, an economist at Stanford University about why some students of color aren't trying to get into prestigious schools.

Saying that "zero tolerance" discipline policies at U.S. schools are unfairly applied "all too often," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is urging officials to rethink that approach. The Obama administration issued voluntary guidelines today that call for more training for teachers and more clarity in defining security problems.

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This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. In a few minutes, we will hear from former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. He had a solid eight-year career in the NFL until he was released last year. Now he's saying in a newly released open letter that it was his support for same-sex marriage off the field, not his performance on it, that cost him his job. He'll tell us more about why he thinks that in just a few minutes.

Jennifer Gill was chosen as the new superintendent for Springfield District 186 after a months-long search. But negotiations have yet to be finalized.   Gill, who currently works for McLean County schools, says the holidays slowed talks, but expects a contract will get done.

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The issue we just heard about is also making news in suburban Seattle. A Catholic school there apparently fired a staff member for being in a same-sex marriage. NPR's Martin Kaste has more.

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We've known for some time, that having more education usually leads to higher pay. Well, now a study suggests that the advantage persists even into retirement years, in part because those with more education tend to stay in the workforce longer.

NPR's Ina Jaffe covers aging and she has this story.

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: For people in their late 60's or 70's or beyond, college might seem like a long time ago. But the impact persists, says study co-author Heidi Hartmann.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

Bitter Cold Could Mean More Time Off For School Kids

Jan 3, 2014
flickr

School administrators in Illinois say they're closely monitoring the forecast to decide whether to cancel or delay classes because of bone-chilling weather that's expected to hit the state.   The cold is coming as many students are preparing to return to school following holiday break.

The National Weather Service says air temperatures below zero will be accompanied by dangerous wind chills Monday and Tuesday.  

Tough Lessons For Teachers Of Color

Jan 3, 2014

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Switching gears now. If you have school-age children, they're either home from school this week or just about to go back, so you're probably thinking ahead to what your student will be doing this spring or maybe even doing some snooping about who his or her teacher will be next year. But what you might not know is that for a fair number of teachers, this could be the beginning of the end of their teaching careers.

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Overcoming.

About Kakenya Ntaiya's TED Talk

Kakenya Ntaiya tells the fearless story of challenging ingrained traditions, insisting on continuing school, and becoming the first girl to leave her Maasai village for college.

About Kakenya Ntaiya

There is a widespread narrative in higher education that goes something like this: Colleges and universities have always accepted the best and brightest students; then, due to pressure from outside forces (some of them named "John F. Kennedy"), diversity was thrust upon the academy. In turn, schools meted out race-based scholarships, relaxed standards for certain students in order to fulfill quotas and — poof! — diversity.

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