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

University of Illinois, Springfield

Only 4 in 10 students who entered college in 2007 have earned
degrees from the school where they started.

Are American kids being adequately prepared in the sciences to compete in a highly competitive, global high-tech workforce? A majority of American parents say no, according to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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From, NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

City College of San Francisco is one of the biggest community colleges in the country and it may be about to close. Its accreditation is in jeopardy. The problems aren't in the classroom, they're financial and administrative. And a lot of people in higher education are watching closely.

On Saturday night, there's a very good chance Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will win the Heisman Trophy, awarded each year to the best college football player in the country.

For Winston, family, friends, teammates and Seminole fans, undoubtedly it'll be a shining moment, but a discordant note continues to run through this tale of football glory.

Quite a show has been going on in Trumbull, Conn.

Last week, the principal of Trumbull High School canceled a student production of Rent scheduled for next March.

Rent is Jonathan Larson's 1994 rock musical about a group of colorful young people living and loving in a colorful wreck of a brownstone on New York's Lower East Side, when struggling young artists could afford the rent there.

Most parents of elementary school-age children say their schools boosted security following last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., according to a poll from NPR in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

The  Springfield school board is negotiating with a local woman to become the district's next superintendent. 

The board hopes to extend an offer in early January to Jennifer Gill.   Gill has been working the past year as the director of teaching and learning in McClean County district five based in Normal.   Prior to that, she had worked as an administrator in the Springfield School District and was principal at Vachel Lindsey and McClernand elementary schools.

The 44 year old Gill has also taught in the Springfield and Jacksonville School Districts.   

wikimedia

An 8-mm color film shot in the 1940's is offering some clues about the original color of a bronze statue that is a beloved landmark at the University of Illinois.  

The 84-year-old Alma Mater statue of a robed woman flanked by figures celebrating ``Learning'' and ``Labor'' is being restored. A heavy buildup of blue-green patina has disguised its original color for decades.  

Kids Create Mobile Apps In the Classroom

Dec 11, 2013

Tell Me More's social storytelling series is happening online using #NPRBlacksinTech. Since December 2nd, black tech innovators from all over the country have spent a day tweeting about their lives. The social media series is creating new storytelling opportunities that run parallel to what Tell Me More does every day on the radio.

Should the University of Illinois Springfield become smoke free?   The campus allows smoking outdoors, away from entryways.  But some want to see lighting up banned completely.

A task force has been talking with those who live and work on the campus, as well as those who visit.  

Kyrah Whatley, 17, is a bright student with pretty good grades. But the thought of spending two to four more years in a college classroom is depressing, she says.

Masonry, on the other hand, intrigues her. "I'm a kinesthetic learner. ... I learn with my hands," she says.

That's why Kyrah is thinking of joining the Navy as a certified mason right after she graduates from Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio.

This story comes to us from Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting project that focuses on agriculture and food production issues. You can see more photos and hear more audio from the series here. Wednesday, we'll have a story from a meatpacking plant in Garden City, Kan., which takes a proactive stance toward its newest immigrants.

Avery Stackhouse, age 7, of Lafayette, Calif., says he wishes he had more time for phys ed.

"We just have it one day a week — on Monday." There's always lunch and recess, he says. "We play a couple of games, like football and soccer," he tells Shots.

But at Happy Valley Elementary, where he goes to school, recess lasts only 15 minutes and lunch is 45. Between eating and mingling, he says, "there's only a few minutes left where we play games and all that."

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Most of today's students and their parents are used to report cards based on the letters A through F. But a new grading system is taking root in schools across the country. It's called standards-based grading. The point is to give parents more information, as New Hampshire Public Radio's Sam Evans-Brown reports.

SAM EVANS-BROWN, BYLINE: Here's what we know about grades in America: A is good, F is bad. But what about these?

BRIAN STACK: We have like E, M, IP, and LP.

Teachers at the school district in Mount Olive have gone on strike.  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1cwtFY4) teachers went on strike Monday morning in Mount Olive School District No. 5 in Macoupin County. The town is 50 miles south of Springfield. The teachers' union and school district couldn't agree on a new three-year contract.  

University of Illinois, Chicago

Unionized faculty members at the University of Illinois at Chicago have authorized a strike, even as contract negotiations continue.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that despite the vote, no strike is imminent.  

UIC United Faculty represents about 800 educators who've been negotiating with school administrators for 15 months.

Union spokesman John Shuler says the group is hoping to avoid a strike. He says the two sides are continuing to work with a federal mediator to approve a new four-year contract. Meetings are scheduled to take place through early January.  

It's lunchtime at Oakland High School in Oakland, Calif., and that means fence hoppers. Several kids wear mischievous grins as they speedily scale a 12-foot-high metal perimeter.

In theory, anyway, Oakland High is a "closed campus." That's done in the interest of safety and security and to cut down on school-skipping. It means kids can't leave during school hours without parental consent, especially at lunchtime. But it doesn't stop several students from breaking out.

American 15-year-olds continue to turn in flat results in a test that measures students' proficiency in reading, math and science worldwide, failing to crack the global top 20.

The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world's most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Ever since the Year 2000, 15-year-olds from around the world have taken a test every three years to gauge their reading, math and science skills. It's called PISA, short for Program for International Student Assessment.

In our Weekly Innovation series, we pick an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Have an innovation to share? Use our form.

Rachel Otwell

When high school students in district 186 are expelled they're left with few options to obtain a diploma or GED. Over a decade ago, the Springfield NAACP started an initiative to address the number of black students being expelled. Since the year 2000, expelled high schoolers have been provided an alternative through those efforts - thanks in large part to retired teachers.

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

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Is The STEM Education Crisis A Myth?

Nov 25, 2013

Education experts have been sounding the alarm for more students to go into STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. But some researchers suggest the STEM crisis is just a myth. Anthony Carnevale of The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, tells host Michel Martin which side is right.

Competition and compassion meet on the field in Springfield, Ill., Saturday, when two central Illinois high school football teams face off for a spot in the state championship. One team is a perennial powerhouse, but the other is from a town that was all but leveled by a tornado.

Last week, linebacker Kevin Scott and the rest of the Washington Community High School Panthers were celebrating. They'd just made school history with a 12-0 record, capped off with a Saturday win that sent them to the semi-finals.

State Changes Map Of Regional Offices Of Education

Nov 22, 2013
roe51.org

The Illinois State Board of Education has redrawn the map of regional education offices to meet a deadline set by the Legislature.  

The board voted Friday after hearing from regional superintendents who objected to the way the map would consolidate their offices.  

A new state law required the board to cut the number of regions from 44 to 35. New regional superintendents will be elected next year to lead the new offices.  
Sangamon County regional superintendent Jeff Vose was among the school leaders who spoke Friday. 

School lunch has never been the stuff of foodie dreams. I'm still haunted by the memory of my elementary school cafeteria's "brain pizza" – a lumpy oval thing topped with fleshy white strips of barely melted mozzarella that clumped together like neurons.

And it looks like America's school cafeterias are still turning out the culinary abominations, judging by the images on Fed Up, a fascinating online project showcasing school lunch photos submitted by students across the country.

This is final story in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Shayna Terrell is in a good mood: It's report card night at the Simon Gratz Mastery Charter high school in North Philadelphia, and parents are showing up in good numbers.

This is the second in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Philadelphia's Center City area sparkles with new restaurants, jobs and money. After declining for half a century, the city's population grew from 2006 to 2012.

But for people living in concentrated poverty in large swaths of North and West Philadelphia, the Great Recession only made life harder.

Walking The World: 7 Years And Counting

Nov 21, 2013

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Now to East Africa, where one man is currently on a journey of discovery.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

This is the first in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Sharron Snyder and Othella Stanback, both seniors at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin High, will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. This, their final year, was supposed to be memorable. Instead, these teenagers say they feel cheated.

"We're fed up with the budget cuts and everything. Like, this year, my school is like really overcrowded. We don't even have lockers because it's, like, too many students," Sharron says.

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