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

"Does being waitlisted count as half an acceptance??"

"Literally got waitlisted everywhere"

"Being waitlisted from your top choice is the worst feeling"

"What should one do when waitlisted at their top choice school? Asking for a friend."

"All these waitlisted got me feelin like Ladybird."

Student protesters in Washington, D.C., entered their eighth day of occupying Howard University's administration building on Thursday, and while school officials have shown signs of bending to their demands, the students say it is not enough.

Black students, boys, and students with disabilities are disproportionately disciplined in K-12 schools across the country. That's according to a new report, out Wednesday, from the non-partisan federal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office.

Those disparities were consistent, "regardless of the type of disciplinary action, regardless of the level of school poverty, and regardless of the type of public school attended," says Jacqueline Nowicki, who led the team of researchers at the GAO.

There is a red light flashing in professor Albert Ponce's cubby-sized office. The light comes from an old-fashioned answering machine.

Lately, he doesn't like to listen to the messages by himself. When he presses play, it's obvious why:

"Albert Ponce, you are a piece of s*** f****** gutter slug that needs his neck snapped, OK? Call me if you need me. I'll do it for ya."

"F****** race-baiting f****** piece of trash."

Courtesy of Ann Baltzer

The trend toward school choice has educators across the country looking at Chicago’s Noble Charter Schools — an award-winning network of mostly high schools that specializes in helping inner-city kids achieve the kind of SAT scores that propel them into four-year universities. But despite its prestigious reputation, Noble has a peculiarly high teacher turnover rate.

As college students grapple with the rising costs of classes and books, mortgaging their futures with student loans in exchange for a diploma they're gambling will someday pay off, it turns out many of them are in great financial peril in the present, too.

More than a third of college students don't always have enough to eat and they lack stable housing, according to a survey published Tuesday by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In college, it's hard to learn while you're hungry.

That's a message Temple University higher education policy professor Sara Goldrick-Rab has been getting throughout her career.

She self-identifies as a "scholar activist." She has advocated for free college, and in 2013 she founded the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, which aims to turn research about low-income students into policies that improve equitable outcomes in post-secondary education.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students returned to school from spring break this week facing a number of new safety precautions. District officials in Parkland, Fla., say that the school is a prototype for potential countywide security changes, following a shooting on Feb. 14 that left 17 people dead.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Teachers are protesting in the state capitols of Oklahoma and Kentucky, as heard here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHERS: (Singing) We're not going to take it anymore.

"I'm 54 years old and my paycheck is $1,980 [a month]. I can't afford f****** health insurance."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Latino students make up the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group enrolled in U.S. colleges since 2000. But they face one of the lowest graduation rates in the country. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports on how one school is trying to change that.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Thousands of public school teachers across Oklahoma will stay out of the classroom – and many will take to the streets — starting today, after they rejected a pay raise they said fails to compensate for some of the lowest educators' salaries in the country.

Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed raises of around $6,100 – about 15 to 18 percent per teacher, as well as $33 million for textbooks and $18 million in additional school funding, to be paid for with a tax increase on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production.

Oklahoma Teachers To Strike This Week

Apr 1, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

When he graduated from college more than a decade ago, Mario Suarez knew two things for sure: He was going to be a teacher and he was going to transition from female to male.

Right after graduation, he landed a job as a high school algebra teacher in Austin, Texas. "I was already living outside of the professional life as a male," he says. "So the next step, through my therapist, she suggested coming out in the workplace."

There's good news and bad news in the weekly education news roundup, so read on!

Thousands of teachers have government grants converted to loans

The week before winter break, snow is piled up around St. Louis Park High School, a low-slung, rambling brick complex in suburban Minneapolis. And more snow is falling.

This is a big, diverse school with proud roots. Alumni include Joel and Ethan Coen, who shot their semiautobiographical 2009 drama, A Serious Man, in this area, once a Jewish enclave, which today has immigrants from all over the world.

As of Thursday morning, SB 151 was a bill about sewage services.

But by the time both chambers of the Kentucky Legislature had passed it that night, the amendment process had turned the bill about sewage into a 291-page overhaul of public employees' retirement benefits. Now, it rests on Gov. Matt Bevin's desk awaiting his signature — and teachers across the state are livid.

I never met Linda Brown in person. But like many Americans I knew her story. And her death on Sunday reminded me that, in 1996, my NPR colleague and producer Walter Ray Watson and I spent several days in Topeka, hoping to find another layer to Linda's story and her role in the Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

I've been reporting on school segregation — and desegregation — for years and Brown's passing reminded me of this visit to the place where, in a sense, this story began.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Our series Take A Number is exploring problems around the world — and the people who are trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

The solution first: 15. More precisely, 15 books.

That's Alvin Irby's answer to a problem he knows all too well as a former kindergarten teacher: How to get children of color excited about reading if they don't have much experience with books or reading outside of school, and the books they see inside of school don't speak to them.

Updated at 12:10 a.m. ET Friday with additional comment from Weber Shandwick

Michigan State University spent more than $500,000 to keep tabs on the online activities of former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's victims and journalists covering the case, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Linda Brown Thompson of Brown v. Board of Education died this week. In 1954, the decision was supposed to desegregate schools. Now, 64 years later, NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with Georgetown University law professor Sheryll Cashin about the effects.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and writer — and a professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He is the director of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth, co-founder of 13.7 and an active promoter of science to the general public.

America needs teachers committed to working with children who have the fewest advantages in life. So for a decade the federal government has offered grants — worth up to $4,000 a year — to standout college students who agree to teach subjects like math or science at lower-income schools.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So a mysterious foreign visit really is not that mysterious anymore.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Conservative Christian colleges, once relatively insulated from the culture war, are increasingly entangled in the same battles over LGBT rights and related social issues that have divided other institutions in America.

Copyright 2018 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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