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

Seventeen-year-old Lulabel Seitz was a model student, and the first in her family to graduate from high school. With an above 4.0 GPA, she was class valedictorian at Petaluma High School in northern California, which meant she would give the commencement speech at her graduation.

When gunfire broke out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February, teacher Melody Herzfeld rushed into action. As shooting went off, she closed the door to her drama classroom, shouted instructions to students on what to do and waited for the rampage to end.

This week saw the first public session of the school safety commission formed by President Trump after the Parkland shooting and headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Alexandra Lange's interest in school design started in her childhood, when she read Little House on the Prairie, with its indelible depiction of Laura's one-room schoolhouse in Wisconsin.

Today, she's an architecture and design critic. Her new book, The Design of Childhood, considers the physical spaces where our children learn and grow: from the living room rug crowded with toys, to the streets, welcoming or dangerous, to classrooms, bright and new or dilapidated.

Courtesy of Kassie Jones

In the Farrington school district, near Mount Vernon, a new teacher makes less than $29,000 — even with a master’s degree. Farrington is one of the lowest-paying districts, but state officials say some 7,000 teachers statewide makes less than $40,000.

A new state law just approved by the legislature would change that.

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Updated at 6:39 p.m. ET

Apple on Monday announced a new app to allow users to get reports on how much their kids are using particular apps on their iPhones and iPads.

Jimmy Fallon made a surprise visit at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's graduation ceremony on Sunday, nearly four months after the students survived a shooting that killed 17 of their classmates and teachers.

There's been a lot of attention lately on low-income students on campus — mostly on how to recruit them and how to make them feel welcome.

For good reason: Pell Grant recipients make up about a third of the undergraduate student population in the U.S., according to the College Board. And often, their experiences in college are very different than their wealthy classmates.

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Childhood — and parenting — have radically changed in the past few decades, to the point where far more children today struggle to manage their behavior.

That's the argument Katherine Reynolds Lewis makes in her new parenting book, The Good News About Bad Behavior.

"We face a crisis of self-regulation," Lewis writes. And by "we," she means parents and teachers who struggle daily with difficult behavior from the children in their lives.

On Thursday, 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani correctly spelled koinonia — a Greek word that means Christian fellowship or communion — to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The annual event, held this year in Oxon Hill, Md., was runner-up Naysa Modi's fourth national bee. The 12-year-old correctly spelled the words pareidolia, myrmecophagous, and forçat before the word that tripped her up: bewusstseinslage.

High school seniors who survived the deadly shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, just two weeks ago, graduated Friday.

On Sunday, the 2018 class at a Parkland, Fla. high school, where a gunman killed 17 people, will also receive their diplomas.

It was in the days after that Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that survivors-turned-advocates became a national force in calling for tighter gun regulation in the U.S.

And for students, it's also been a lesson in patience.

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Did you know that kids growing up in poverty hear 30 million fewer words by age 3?

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET Thursday

Citing a need to make "our schools and our state a safer place," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled a slate of policy and legislative changes on Wednesday that range from boosting security at schools to doing more to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.

The proposals are part of the Governor's School and Firearm Safety Plan — a list of 40 recommendations for making communities safer. He detailed his new school-safety plan at the Dallas Independent School District's administration building.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS / NPR Illinois

State Senator Chapin Rose had what he thought was a no-brainer bill. All he wanted to do was help public universities connect with promising high school juniors by sharing basic data like standardized test scores. But just hours before presenting his bill in committee, he ran into FERPA — the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

It’s a federal law; there’s no easy way around it.

On Aug. 24, 1952, the Silook and Oozevaseuk families of Gambell, Alaska, welcomed a baby girl into the world and introduced her to the island that had been their home for centuries. Gambell is at the western edge of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. When the weather is clear, you can see Siberia in the distance.

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After the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, most of the black students who integrated schools were girls and women.

Eleven days after the shooting that killed eight students and two teachers in a small Texas town, classes are back in session at Santa Fe High School.

Students from the neighboring Alvin school district arrived on school buses today holding signs of support. Others from the community lined the highway to the school.

A Degree With Zero Student Debt. Does It Work?

May 28, 2018

Justin Napier is exactly the kind of community college graduate Tennessee was hoping for.

In high school, Napier didn't have his eye on college. In fact, he had a job lined up working on race cars after graduation. But in the spring of 2014, a year before Napier graduated, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a plan to make community college free for graduating high school seniors, part of a broader plan to dramatically increase the number of adults in Tennessee with college credentials. It was called, grandly, the Tennessee Promise.

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Visitors to the National Mall on Memorial Day weekend will encounter a wall of bright red poppies, installed to commemorate the men and women who have died in uniform in the century since World War I.

Retired Navy Vice Adm. John Bird tells NPR the project uses 645,000 synthetic flowers — one for each American killed in an international conflict since the start of World War I — pressed against acrylic panels, which are backlit for dramatic effect.

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On Tuesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos fielded questions about school safety, civil rights and for-profit colleges during a congressional hearing about her department's priorities.

The president of the University of Southern California, C.L. Max Nikias, is stepping down, according to an announcement by the university's board of trustees. The resignation comes as USC is embroiled in a series of scandals that have tarnished the public image of the prestigious private institution in Los Angeles.

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