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

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We are in St. Louis, Missouri today for a special broadcast from St. Louis Public Radio. We're going to be giving you a bit of St. Louis flavor. In a few minutes, we will talk about one of the city's biggest bragging rights. Hint, it has nothing to do with swinging a bat or throwing a ball.

It's recess time at Ruby Bridges Elementary School and a third-grader is pummeling a plastic tetherball with focused intensity. He's playing at one of more than a half-dozen recess play stations on the school's sprawling cement playground — there's also wall ball, basketball, capture the flag, sharks and minnows, a jungle gym and tag.

The "school-to-prison pipeline" is what many activists call education policies that push troubled kids out of class, and into the criminal justice system. Broward County has taken steps to address those concerns by moving away from "zero tolerance" rules of discipline. Guest host Celeste Headlee discusses the new program with Marsha Ellison of the Broward County NAACP, and Michael Krezmien, a professor of student development at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

There's a nationwide search underway to find former students who don't know they've already done all or most of the work needed to earn a credential that might help them land a better-paying job.

In Michigan, several hundred community college dropouts were recently surprised to learn they had enough credits to qualify for an associate degree. There are also ex-students who apparently didn't know they're just a few credits shy of a two-year degree.

In Florida, one of the nation's largest school districts has overhauled its discipline policies with a single purpose in mind — to reduce the number of children going into the juvenile justice system.

It's a move away from so-called "zero tolerance" policies that require schools to refer even minor misdemeanors to the police. Critics call it a "school to prison pipeline."

Civil rights and education activists say the policy can be a model for the nation.

About five hundred Springfield students were forced out of the public schools last month for failing to have required physicals and immunizations. The number has since dropped to 87 kids missing classes. The deadline was October 15th. School board member Mike Zimmers says the policy should be changed for next year to have the deadline before school gets underway.

"Parents just need to plan, you know when they start thinking about ... we need to get school clothes or school supplies -- in your mindset just think, we need to get physicals, we need to get shots,” said Zimmers.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Tomorrow in Colorado, voters will decide on an ambitious ballot measure that would overhaul the state's public education system. It could become the first state to combine an income tax hike with education reforms all in one proposal. From Colorado Public Radio, here's Jenny Brundin.

In 2012, the cost of child care in the U.S. grew up to eight times faster than family income, according to a new study of the average fees paid to child care centers and family child care homes.

This is the final report in a four-part series on adult education.

Low literacy rates for adults can have wide-ranging effects on those around them. They may rely more heavily on government services; their children may not get that extra hand with schoolwork; their families may not get sufficient financial support.

But for the millions of adults with low literacy, the ability to read, write and speak English might offer them the most important opportunity of all: a chance to emerge from the shadows and participate as equals in society.

New Scholarship Boosts Urban Art

Nov 4, 2013

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

And now we'll continue with this theme of using hip-hop to teach. When legendary lyricist and DJ MC Lyte first appeared on the national scene 1988, she wasn't thinking about education. This is her hit song, "Lyte as a Rock."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LYTE AS A ROCK")

This is the third report in a four-part series on adult education.

Adults wanting to go back to school have the odds stacked against them. They juggle many responsibilities, there are long waitlists for classes and often there isn't a connection between what they learn in class and the skills they need to get a job.

Education is necessary if democracy is to flourish. What good is the free flow of information if people can't make sense of it? How can you vote your own interests if you don't understand the consequences of policy choices? How can you know what's best for you or your community?

U Of I To Open China Office

Nov 1, 2013
University of Illinois

The University of Illinois plans to open an office in China later this year.
 
Pradeep Khanna is associate chancellor for corporate international relations at
the school. Khanna tells The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1ahCsrT) that the
university plans to hire up to three employees for the new office in Shanghai.
 
A delegation of University of Illinois alumni is traveling to Beijing and
Shanghai next week. The group of about 50 people will meet with alumni and visit
companies and universities that have partnerships with UI.
 

This is the second report in a four-part series on adult education.

Ana Perez never made it to high school. Her education ended after the sixth grade, when war broke out in her native El Salvador. She says she's "desperate" to learn English, but she gets nervous trying to speak it.

Immigrants like Perez see English as the key to a better life. Many hope learning the language will help lift them out of poverty and integrate them into American society. But gaining English proficiency is a difficult task amid everyday obligations.

This week on All Tech, we're exploring kids and technology with posts and radio pieces about raising digital natives. Look back at the stories and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, by email or tweet.

Turning The Page On Illiteracy, Adults Go Back To Class

Oct 31, 2013

This is the first report of a four-part series on adult education.

The national debate around education usually focuses on children in school. But there are 30 million adults in the U.S. who have trouble with basic literacy — they struggle to read a menu, a pay stub or a bus schedule.

It also means it's difficult for them to get and hold onto the most basic jobs.

Illinois schools and school districts get report cards Thursday. Many will appear to have suffered a significant drop in student achievement. But state officials say that’s just because they’ve changed how students are evaluated.

Teachers Share Their Top Safety Concerns

Oct 30, 2013

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program, we'll head into the Beauty Shop, where our panel of women commentators and journalists take on some hot topics of the week, including adult Halloween costume dilemmas. And we'll ask if Jay-Z has another problem to add to his 99 - we promise we'll explain all that.

Penn State has reached a $59.7 million settlement with 26 young men who accused former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, the university confirmed Monday.

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Next week, hundreds of thousands of students, armed with number two pencils...

(SOUNDBITE OF PENCIL TAPPING ON DESK)

A growing number of school districts across America are trying to weave tablet computers, like the iPad, into the classroom fabric, especially as a tool to help implement the new Common Core state standards for math and reading.

Demolition has begun at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 20 students and six adults last December. Bricks will be pulverized, steel melted down and a new school built at the same location.

Allison Hornak attended Sandy Hook Elementary School as a kid. After college, she returned home to Newtown, Conn., and opened an art gallery that's within walking distance of where the mass killing took place.

Hornak says she has a lot of fond memories of Sandy Hook — like a teacher who let her chew gum in class, and the pathways through the school.

If you're not a big college football fan, you may have missed the story of an unprecedented player revolt.

sps186.org

A search firm hired by district 186 to help in the hunt for a new Springfield public schools superintendent recently shared its findings after turning to parents, teachers, and the community at large for feedback. Board member Scott McFarland joins us to discuss some of the findings, and talk about the profile of qualities being sought after in a superintendent candidate: 

Call it a linguistic identity crisis.

Growing up in Westchester, N.Y., 25-year-old Danielle Alvarez says, she and her two siblings didn't have much need for Spanish. With few other Hispanic families around, she got by with the few phrases she had picked up from her Mexican-born father: good night, put a coat on, be careful.

Data shows only 40% of 3rd grade students in Macon County are reading at grade level.  That same percentage applies to those in 11th grade.  1 of every 4 students also fails to graduate high school.  

The alarming statistics are similar to what many areas are facing.  The Education Coalition of Macon County is an initiative reviewing the problem and tying to find solutions.   That includes taking different approaches to what has become the standard for education.

A group of parents who have students in Springfield public schools took their push for a property tax increase before the District 186 board last night. They’re pursuing the issue - despite the fact the school board vice president recently proposed the idea of a 1% county-wide sales tax increase. Supporters of the property tax idea say it would benefit the general education fund while the sales tax hike, by law, would be used for building needs.

The University of Miami "lacked institutional control" and didn't notice multiple violations by a booster who for years gave cash and gifts to athletes, the NCAA said. But the organization says the school's football team can play in the postseason, stopping short of the harshest punishment available.

Michael Landsberry, the 45-year-old middle school math teacher and Afghan War veteran who was killed Monday trying to talk down a student shooter at a Nevada middle school, is being remembered as a hero.

Witnesses at Sparks Middle School in the city of Sparks, near Reno, described how Landsberry approached the armed 13-year-old boy and tried to get him to surrender a semi-automatic pistol he had used to shoot two fellow students. The boy then turned the weapon on Landsberry, fatally shooting him, before using the pistol to take his own life.

At the 200-year-old U.S. Military Academy at West Point, tradition dictates everything. That includes the habit of having freshmen stand in the yard everyday and call cadets to lunch. It's also tradition that the overwhelming majority of the graduating class will be white and 84 percent male.

Some say those rates are due to natural patterns of matriculation.

"Women will naturally matriculate — or, they have naturally matriculated — into the academy at about the 16 to 17 percent rate," says West Point admissions director Col. Deborah McDonald.

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