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 Hosptial
  • Illinois Education Association
  • Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance
  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • UIS College of Education & Human Services

Ways to Connect

Autumn trees on the University of Maine campus
Courtesy of the University of Maine

Illinois has long been number two in the nation for a rather dubious distinction -- the net out-migration of college students. Now there’s a new program targeting Illinois high school students who want to attend a state flagship university, even if it’s not in Illinois. The catch? You’re going to need to love flannel shirts, lobster, and maybe not come home for Thanksgiving.

At an off-campus coffee shop Monday, Ohio State University senior Mohamed Farah catches up on his homework.

"I didn't get a lot of work done today just because there's a lot going on," he says. "I tried to stay away from the news, but I kept going back to it."

Farah first learned of an attack on campus when security sent a text to the entire university: "Active shooter on campus: Run Hide Fight."

Part of our ongoing series exploring how the U.S. can educate the nearly 5 million students who are learning English.

Brains, brains, brains. One thing we've learned at NPR Ed is that people are fascinated by brain research. And yet it can be hard to point to places where our education system is really making use of the latest neuroscience findings.

Part 2 of our series "Unlocking Dyslexia."

Our ancient ancestors were able to speak long before they were able to read or write. That history is etched in our brains.

The human brain naturally picks up spoken language. Not so for reading.

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Part 1 of our series "Unlocking Dyslexia."

"It's frustrating that you can't read the simplest word in the world."

Thomas Lester grabs a book and opens to a random page. He points to a word: galloping.

"Goll—. G—. Gaa—. Gaa—. G—. " He keeps trying. It is as if the rest ­­of the word is in him somewhere, but he can't sound it out.

"I don't ... I quit." He tosses the book and it skids along the table.

Voters in California officially ended the era of English-only instruction in public schools and lifted restrictions on bilingual education that had been in place for 18 years. Proposition 58 passed by a 73-27 percent margin. What happens next though, could get complicated.

Classrooms won't change this school year because the measure doesn't kick in until July 2017. Until then, state and school district officials need to figure out three big things:

1. How many schools will actually begin to offer bilingual or dual language instruction?

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When it comes to sentence structure, Rocky, a sea lion, was a stickler.

"It really mattered to her, what's going to be the direct and indirect object," says Kathy Streeter, an animal trainer.

For Sierra, it isn't the grammar that interests her. It's the vocalizations. This California sea lion loves experimenting with her vocal range, and she hates being interrupted.

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Lots of high schools let students develop specialties in foreign languages, the sciences or the arts. A high school in Phoenix lets students focus on a more unusual subject - policing. From member station KJZZ, Naomi Gingold reports.

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President-elect Donald Trump has picked billionaire Betsy DeVos, a Michigan Republican activist and philanthropist who is a strong supporter of school choice but has limited experience with public education, as his secretary of education.

DeVos, 58, is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and helped push a failed 2000 ballot proposal to amend the Michigan state Constitution to create a voucher system for students to attend nonpublic schools.

You know the drill: Trace your hand, then add the details. Two feet, a beak, a single eyeball. Color it in, and voila! Hand becomes turkey.

You know the rest too: The Pilgrims fled England and landed on Plymouth Rock. The native people there, the Wampanoag, taught them to farm the land. In 1621, they sat down together for a thanksgiving feast, and we've been celebrating it ever since.

It's a lesson many remember from childhood, but the story has some problems.

The University of Notre Dame must vacate two seasons' worth of football victories because of academic misconduct by a student athletic trainer, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

The affected seasons are 2012-13 and 2013-14. The university has also been slapped with a $5,000 fine, a year of probation and public censure. The former student trainer must cut ties with Notre Dame's academic program for two years, and if she's hired in an athletic role at an NCAA member school during that time, she must appear before an NCAA panel.

group of undocumented students in Capitol
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

College students who don’t have a Social Security number can’t receive financial aid from public universities in Illinois. But a measure that would give schools the option to provide scholarships or waivers is getting a big push at the statehouse, thanks to the election of Donald Trump.

There's a lot of attention right now on improving attendance in schools — making sure kids don't miss too many days. But what about the littlest students — those 3 and 4 years old? New research shows that if kids miss a lot of preschool, they're way more likely to have problems in kindergarten or later on.

classroom desks
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

 

The stop-gap funding measure approved by lawmakers last spring left community colleges with just 27 percent of their usual state aid. That amount is almost gone. Community colleges in Illinois say they've cut frills, suspended travel, and even laid off teachers. Now they need state lawmakers to come through with funding.

That was the gist of a letter sent last week from the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents​ to the governor and legislative leaders.

 

A $25 million settlement agreement has been reached in the civil fraud lawsuits against President-elect Donald Trump and Trump University, according to New York's state attorney general.

The young women in this story have labels. Three labels: Single, mother, college student. They're raising a child and getting an education — three of the 2.6 million unmarried parents attending U.S. colleges and universities.

Getting a degree is hard enough for anyone, but these students face extra challenges. And when it comes to helping out with their needs, Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., is considered one of the best in the country.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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If there's one thing that most educators agree on, it's that a school full of low-income students requires teachers to bring their A game if they want to close the achievement gap. But after years of studying high-poverty schools that succeed, Lynne Haeffele has come up with a short list of traits those successful schools share. Haefele directs the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University, and she will be speaking tonight at a townhall-style event in Decatur. Haeffele has been studying “break the mold” schools -- high poverty, high performing schools -- to discover their magic formula.

 

 

Is preschool worth it? Policymakers, parents, researchers and us, at NPR Ed, have spent a lot of time thinking about this question.

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When the Obama administration announced last year that it would overhaul the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, prospective college students (and their parents) cheered.

"Today, we're lending a hand to millions of high school students who want to go to college and who've worked hard," said Arne Duncan, who was at that time U.S. secretary of education. "We're announcing an easier, earlier FAFSA."

And it is both.

There's been lots of chatter on social media and among pundits, warning that the treatment of immigrant kids and English language learners is going to "get worse" under a Donald Trump presidency.

Some people on Twitter are even monitoring incidents in which Latino students in particular have been targeted.

But I wonder: When were these students not targeted? When did immigrant students and their families ever have it easy?

Courtesy of AFSCME Local 31

If you were a soldier in World War II, a furlough was something to look forward to. It was a sanctioned leave of absence from your normal duties, a chance to relax and go have some fun. In today's economy, the word furlough has lost some of its luster. It still connotes time off, but without pay.

Tomorrow, Jeff Brownfield, who represents university civil service employees, will appear before the General Assembly's rules committee to ask lawmakers to approve a measure allowing state schools to require employees to take as many as 15 days off without pay.

We've always been a hands-on, DIY kind of nation. Ben Franklin didn't just invent the lightning rod. His creations include bifocals, swim fins, the catheter, innovative stoves and more.

Franklin, who was largely self-taught, may have been a genius, but he wasn't really an outlier when it comes to American making and tinkering.

Part of our series exploring how the U.S will educate the nearly 5 million students who are learning English.

Children and teenagers of Mexican descent make up one of the fastest-growing populations in the nation's public schools.

Teaching In The Age Of Trump

Nov 11, 2016

When Heather Stewart left home and headed to her third-grade classroom Wednesday morning, she wasn't sure what to do.

"There have been a handful of days in 22 years where I had no idea what to say or how to say it," she tweeted that morning. "Today is one of them."

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