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

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A legal motion the Department of Education filed yesterday could have big ramifications for half a million teachers, social workers, police officers and other public servants. The motion asserts that there has been no final decision on whether these people will have their student debt forgiven, as they had believed.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

There are some things Harvey Mudd College would like to be known for: being a small, close-knit, gender-balanced, racially and ethnically diverse engineering college; faculty who focus on teaching; graduates who head to companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft and earn six figures by mid-career.

And here is something it would not like to be known for: The last 12 months.

Copyright 2017 WBEZ. To see more, visit WBEZ.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

"Chicago bailout" is the tag Gov. Bruce Rauner and other Republicans pinned on Senate Bill 1, the new school funding plan approved by the General Assembly. So when Democrats finally sent him the bill, Rauner wasted no time cutting portions that help Chicago Public Schools.

A version of this story was first posted by member station WBEZ.

State money to public schools across Illinois could be cut off due to yet another budget impasse between lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner.

On Tuesday, Rauner, a Republican, partially vetoed a bill to overhaul the state's school funding formula, denouncing it a "bailout" of Chicago Public Schools.

As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, Kristy vanMarle knew she wanted to go to grad school for psychology, but wasn't sure what lab to join. Then, she saw a flyer: Did you know that babies can count?

State Sen. Andy Manar at podium
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The future of state funding for Illinois schools is still up in the air Monday afternoon. The fight over Senate Bill 1 — legislation that would overhaul the way Illinois supports k-12 schools — has such high stakes and such slim vote margins that it has turned into a parliamentary chess game. Now, the next move belongs to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Hey America, We're Listening

Jul 31, 2017

If you could change how the media cover who you are, where you live and what you believe, how would you do it? We’re opening our phone lines at 855-236-1A1A (1212) to listen to you in a special show that goes beyond labels and identity politics to pay close attention to what’s on the minds of Americans today.

U.S. high schools got a high-tech update this past school year. Not by federal fiat or by state law, but largely at the hand of independent nonprofits, including one founded by twin brothers less than five years ago.

Keith Flaugh is a retired IBM executive living in Naples, Fla., and a man with a mission. He describes it as "getting the school boards to recognize ... the garbage that's in our textbooks."

Flaugh helped found Florida Citizens' Alliance, a conservative group that fought unsuccessfully to stop Florida from signing on to Common Core educational standards.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Malala Yousafzai walks hand-in-hand with her father down a dirt road in northern Iraq. The youngest Nobel laureate has just turned 20. But in some ways, she is still the teenager from Pakistan propelled onto a world stage after being shot for advocating the right of girls to go to school.

Every year Patrick Engleman plays a little trick on his students. The high school chemistry teacher introduces his ninth-graders in suburban Philadelphia to an insidious substance called dihydrogen monoxide. It's "involved in 80 percent of fatal car crashes. It's in every single cancer cell. This stuff, it'll burn you," he tells them.

But dihydrogen monoxide is water. He says several of his honors classes decided to ban it based just on what he told them.

Copyright 2017 90.5 WESA. To see more, visit 90.5 WESA.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

How To Keep Friends And Influence Yourself

Jul 27, 2017

Can facts change beliefs?

Research is still being done on the topic. But, the fact that it’s unclear if that’s the case says a lot about how firmly held our opinions can be. If an army of fact-checkers can’t move a mind, what can?

Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)

Gov. Bruce Rauner has launched a website to show that most school districts stand to gain more state funding under his plan than under the Democrats' plan. How he calculated those numbers is a question reporters have asked repeatedly. We turned to the state board of education for answers.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is taking his shot helping narrow the opportunity and equity gaps with his Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook. The Los Angeles nonprofit helps public school students in the city access a free, fun, weeklong STEM education camp experience in the Angeles National Forest.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

After the first day of a special session on education, Democratic lawmakers and the Republican Governor Bruce Rauner appear no closer to resolving the dispute that could hold up money for school districts. Rauner continues to demand Democrats send him the funding plan so he can change it and remove additional money for Chicago teacher pensions.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Dr. Carmen Puliafito was dean of the medical school at the University of Southern California. A photo in the LA Times shows a man in a dark suit and tie, a white shirt and a serious expression.

Teachers have one of the lowest-paid professional jobs in the U.S. You need a bachelor's degree, which can be costly — an equation that often means a lot of student loans. We've reported on the factors that make this particular job even more vulnerable to a ton of debt, including chronically low teacher pay, the increasing pressure to get a master's degree and the many ways to repay loans or apply for loan forgiveness.

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Here's welcome news to anyone planning to attend college soon or their parents - tuition is growing at the slowest pace in decades. Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal has been reporting on this trend and he joins me now. Welcome to the program.

On-campus disciplinary processes for assaults that are reported have drawn criticism from both survivors and those accused of assault. According to federal statistics, only about one in six survivors of sexual assault on college campuses report the incident to school authorities.

Emporia, Kansas is home to rolling prairies, wheat fields, and the world's biggest frisbee golf tournament.

But the reason we went there: the National Teacher Hall of Fame, which gives the place it's most revered title, Teacher Town USA.

In 1989 the members of the Emporia local school board and Emporia State University asked, 'Why doesn't anyone honor teachers?'

To fill the void, they created the museum and hall of fame, where the top five teachers in the nation are honored every year. To be eligible, you must have taught for 20 years or more.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling lawmakers back from their summer vacation to deal with a new school funding plan in special session starting Wednesday. The issue has turned into a showdown between the Republican governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature, with the fate of k-12 school children in the balance.

The Controversy Over Comprehensive Sex Ed

Jul 24, 2017

Yes, sex education class is still just as embarrassing and awkward as it ever was. But what kids are learning in school about the birds and bees may be changing.

President Trump’s administration is poised to defund some teen pregnancy prevention research programs which had been supported by the Department of Health and Human Services. And the new assistant secretary for HHS is an advocate for teaching an abstinence-only curriculum in schools.

It's afternoon, and in a spacious courtyard in Accra, Ghana, children sit at tables and talk to adult mentors. Pat Wilkins, a youthful 52-year-old, firmly asks what they've been learning in school. She peers seriously at them through her glasses. And then "Aunty Pat" — as the kids call her — cracks a smile.

It's this blend of discipline and nurturing that's the foundation of BASICS, a nonprofit organization Wilkins started in 2001 that aims to change lives by guiding low-income children through school and preparing them for skilled jobs.

"It beeped in the envelope. That's how we knew."

Leslie Conrad is the director of Clemson Outdoor Lab in Pendleton, S.C., which runs several different camps during the summer. Clemson bans cellphones and other electronic devices for campers.

That makes sense. We traditionally think of summer camp as a place to swim in the lake and weave friendship bracelets, not text and play video games.

This week, the FIRST Global Challenge, a highly anticipated robotics competition for 15- to 18-year-olds from 157 countries, ended the way it began — with controversy.

On Wednesday, members of the team from the violence-torn east African country of Burundi went missing. And well before the competition even began, the teams from Gambia and Afghanistan made headlines after the U.S. State Department denied the members visas. Eventually, they were allowed to compete.

The drama marred an otherwise upbeat event focused on kids and robots.

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