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

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

Evelyn Piazza wears a heart-shaped pendant around her neck. It has her son Timothy's thumb print on it. When she runs her finger across it she says it's like holding his hand.

Piazza's son was a sophomore at Penn State last year, when he died from injuries suffered after fraternity hazing rituals. Now she dreads the days leading up to the first anniversary of Timothy's death on Sunday.

Patricia Fara is the president of the British Society for the History of Science and a fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, U.K. Her latest book is A Lab of One's Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War.

I've got a degree in physics, but I have not stepped inside a laboratory since I graduated from Oxford.

Mike Moran, the principal at Bryan Adams High School in Dallas, says oftentimes when students are homeless, they're too embarrassed to tell anyone.

"A lot of times it is revealed that there's a temporary living situation, they're in a motel, they're now staying with an aunt and uncle," he says.

Principal Moran has heard similar stories about 50, or so, kids at his school, just one of dozens of high schools in the district. That's why Dallas schools have put something called a drop-in center at nearly every high school in the district.

When we read books, why do we forget so much of what we read, in only weeks or even days after we read it?

Coming across an article on this topic by Julie Beck in The Atlantic over the weekend, I found insight and even some consolation. I'm not the only one who forgets the plots of novels I've truly loved.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Now we have the story of a high school student newspaper. The students found a story so explosive it was hard to keep the story published. The editor, Max Gordon, grew curious about a mystery at Herriman High in Utah.

General Assembly electronic vote tally board
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Less than an hour before Gov. Bruce Rauner was scheduled to deliver his State of the State address, lawmakers in the House and Senate voted to override his veto of a small, technical school funding bill necessary to implement the massive school funding reform that Rauner has listed as his main accomplishment.

Updated on Feb. 9, 2018:

We all know that teachers do way more than teach. They often go beyond their job descriptions to help young people in ways that don't involve academics or the classroom.

Some will take in a homeless student. Others have gone so far as to adopt students. Or ... well, we're hoping you'll tell us!

Copyright 2018 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.


Courtesy of Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

Gov. Bruce Rauner has claimed his top accomplishment of last year was transforming the way Illinois funds public schools. But the dollars pledged by that new law haven’t been distributed. Instead, Rauner and state agencies have been focused on implementing and expanding a tax credit program for private schools, added to the bill at the last minute to get the governor signature.

More than 900 students in Washington D.C.'s public high schools graduated last year against district policy. That's according to a new report Monday from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent.

Of the 690,000 undocumented immigrants now facing an uncertain future as Congress and President Trump wrangle over the DACA program are about 8,800 school teachers.

The real possibility that they'll be deported if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is allowed to expire has put enormous stress on them.

Almost as soon as they can focus past the end of their noses, babies today are waving at Grandpa on video chat and swiping the screens on all kinds of devices.

It's just plain unsettling to watch a baby in a stroller with an iPad. Especially when his mother is looking at her phone at the same time.

Bailey Holt and Preston Cope were killed in their high school this week. They were both 15 years old. But has the news of students being killed in their school lost the power to shock and sober us?

At least 16 other students, all between 14 and 18, at Marshall County High School in Kentucky were injured when another student, age 15, opened fire in their school on Tuesday.

"Bailey Holt and Preston [Cope] were two great people," their friend, Gabbi Bayers, said on Facebook. "It hurts knowing we won't be able to share the laughs anymore."

Hello and welcome to the latest, college-heavy edition of our weekly roundup of education news. First up ...

Michigan State University president, athletic director step down over sex-abuse scandal

CJ Marple wanted to teach his young students how quickly information can spread on the Internet.

So earlier this year, the third-grade science teacher wrote up a tweet with the help of his students, asking for other users to retweet the message, or even reply to the message with their location.


Some people hear that word and picture a hood-wearing, cross-burning bigot. Others think more abstractly — they hear racist and think of policies, institutions, laws and language.

Families who send their children to private schools probably thought they received a break under the new federal tax law. But Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs warns that's not necessarily so.  

Bright Start and Bright Directions are savings plans designed to let Illinois parents accrue tax-free interest while stashing money to pay their kids’ college tuition. The new tax law says these plans, known as 529 accounts, can now be used to pay for up to $10,000 per year in private school tuition for younger kids, too.

"If something on their desk or in their pocket dings, rings or vibrates — they will lose focus."

"Students are doing so much in class, distraction and disruption isn't really something I worry about."

How should teachers — both K-12 and college — deal with the use of computers and phones by students in class?

On the one hand, those sleek little supercomputers promise to connect us to all human knowledge. On the other hand, they are also scientifically designed by some of the world's top geniuses to feel as compelling as oxygen.

"Trauma" is a heavy and haunting word. For many Americans, it conjures images of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The emotional toll from those wars made headlines and forced a healthcare reckoning at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician, would like to see a similar reckoning in every doctor's office, health clinic and classroom in America — for children who have experienced trauma much closer to home.

courtesy of Neil Calderon

Pres. Donald Trump’s administration has been in power for a year now. “State of Trump” is our series discussing what’s changed in the state ... and what might be ahead.


Today we hear from high school government teacher Neil Calderon about how the Trump presidency has affected the way he teaches:


Hello! Welcome to our weekly roundup of all the education news you may have missed.

An online charter school is closing midyear

White board with, "School Funding" written on it
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois State Board of Education today voted unanimously to ask the General Assembly to practically double state funding for public schools.

Last summer, the legislature voted to change the way Illinois funds schools by adopting what's called an “evidence-based model.” That model weighs what each district needs against its local resources. As it turns out, some districts can't achieve even 50 percent of adequate funding, while others have almost three times what they need.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Nearly 90,000 students in schools across Illinois do not have access to high-speed internet, preventing them from participating in modern classroom activities like taking online tests or classes and browsing the internet.

Legislation announced Wednesday would set aside $16.3 million to help fund the installation of fiberoptic cables for high-speed internet in about 100 districts. The one-time state payment could be matched with roughly $47 million in federal funds.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

A high-level investigation into chronic absenteeism in Washington, D.C., high schools has found that students across the city graduated despite missing more than 30 days of school in a single course, in violation of district policy.

Rep. La Shawn K. Ford headshot

Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner used his veto authority to make big changes to a small clean-up bill that’s necessary to enact school funding reform. Democrats who pushed the reform warned that Rauner’s action could derail the bipartisan effort to make school funding more equitable. As it turns out, they’re not the only ones upset about it.


Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

After just roughly two years of construction, the University of Illinois Springfield’s Student Union is officially open. 

Hundreds of students, staff, administration, even city leaders attended the celebratory day for the campus as its first student union is now ready for students as they return to campus from winter break this week. 

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Hello! Money is on our minds in this mid-January edition of the Weekly Roundup.

Student loan default is a "crisis," report says