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

Most teachers these days last no more than five to 10 years in the classroom, but Paul Miller taught math for nearly 80. At one point, he was considered the "oldest active accredited teacher" in the U.S.

His career started in his hometown of Baltimore. It was 1934, the Dust Bowl was wreaking havoc in the Plains, Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down by police in Louisiana, and a thuggish politician named Adolf Hitler became president of Germany.

Miller taught elementary school kids by day, college students at night and his mother on weekends.

Children who start school at an older age do better than their younger classmates and have better odds of attending college and graduating from an elite institution. That's according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

It was the year 2000 and Maine's governor at the time, Angus King, was excited about the Internet. The World Wide Web was still relatively young but King wanted every student in the state to have access to it.

"Go into history class and the teacher says, 'Open your computer. We're going to go to rome.com and we're going to watch an archaeologist explore the Catacombs this morning in real time.' What a learning tool that is!"

Immigration authorities picked up and detained a 19-year-old high school student from Long Island in New York this summer after he was suspended from school for doodling the number 504 in a textbook and drawing devil horns on a calculator.

The number is the international calling code for Honduras, where the student grew up and where the violent international street gang MS-13 has strong ties. And bull horns are a symbol used by MS-13.

In the aftermath of the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., many civil rights activists took to Twitter and shared photos of people who allegedly were at the march. The idea was to identify who they were and shame them. But identifying someone from a photo can be tricky — and the activists managed to make at least one mistake.

Illinois House floor
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

School funding stalled a while longer yesterday as Illinois lawmakers instead cast symbolic votes. Democrats took the changes Gov. Bruce Rauner made to their evidence-based model, turned it into a replica bill, then ran it for a vote. It was an exercise designed to prove that Rauner couldn't get enough support to uphold his plan.

When Anna Neuman was applying to college, there weren't a lot of people around to help her. Students from her high school in Maryland rarely went on to competitive colleges, the school counselor worked at several schools and was hard to pin down for meetings and neither of her parents had been through the application process before.

The only thing her parents told her was that she would have to pay for it herself.

How Do Teachers Talk About Hate Speech?

Aug 16, 2017

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Tony Sanders with U-46 students
courtesy of U-46

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been drumming up opposition to the Democrats' new school funding plan, known as Senate Bill 1, by touting how much more money each district would receive under his plan. He points to Elgin U-46, the state’s second largest school district, as the biggest winner: That northwest suburban district would gain about $15 million if lawmakers approve Rauner’s amendatory veto.

So that district's CEO, Tony Sanders, must be rooting for Rauner's plan, right?

 

Wrong.

A "White Lives Matter" rally scheduled at Texas A&M University for Sept. 11 has been called off over "risks of threat to life and safety," the school says.

The white nationalist rally, organized by former Texas A&M student Preston Wiginton, was not sponsored by any campus organizations, the university says. But the university, which is required to observe First Amendment rights, had allowed Wiginton to reserve space in a public area on campus.

Swings in school playground
Hal Frain / Flickr (CC X 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that makes it illegal to expel toddlers from preschools.

Backers of the new law point to a study that says toddlers and other Illinois preschoolers are expelled at a rate three times greater than their older, school-age counterparts.

“I just want you to let that sink in.”

State Rep. Juliana Stratton is a Democrat from Chicago.

“When you see expulsion in early years, it leads to higher suspension and expulsion rates in later grades."

In the last year, there's been a big drop in support for charter schools, while other forms of school choice are getting a little less unpopular. That's the top line of a national poll released today.

President Trump and his education secretary Betsy DeVos have put school choice front and center on their education agenda. The general idea of "choice," however, takes many forms.

How should educators confront bigotry, racism and white supremacy? The incidents in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend pushed that question from history to current events.

A few years ago, my daughter requested that her nightly lullaby be replaced with a bedtime story.

I was happy to comply, and promptly invented stories full of imaginary creatures in elaborate plots intended to convey some important lesson about patience or hard work or being kind to others.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois State Senate spent Sunday in session, where Senators voted 38 to 19 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the new school funding bill. The override wasn't a surprise, because this new evidence-based funding plan had originally cleared the Senate with a veto-proof majority. The House, however, represents a higher hurdle, where Democrats will need Republicans to vote with them. That vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

 

Sen. Andy Manar, the Bunker Hill Democrat who sponsored the measure, says he'd rather negotiate a compromise.

Ethnic Studies: A Movement Born Of A Ban

Aug 13, 2017

In Jr Arimboanga's ninth-grade classroom, students learn about critical consciousness: how to read the word, but also the world. It's a concept popularized by a Brazilian educational theorist named Paulo Freire in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

The class is ethnic studies. It's part of an effort by San Francisco educators like Arimboanga to teach courses centered on the perspectives of historically marginalized groups. Just last year, California passed a law mandating a model ethnic studies curriculum.

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

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In the same Florida county where the president entertains world leaders at his Mar-a-Lago estate, fifth graders at a nearby school learn the art of table manners each year. Peter Haden of member station WLRN reports.

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking School.

About Linda Cliatt-Wayman's TED Talk

As principal of a low-performing high school, Linda Cliatt-Wayman's students faced huge challenges. She describes how she transformed her school while providing unwavering love and support for her students.

About Linda Cliatt-Wayman

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking School.

About Sal Khan's TED Talk

Sal Khan turned tutoring lessons with his cousins into a series of free educational videos called Khan Academy. His goal: To make learning accessible for everyone, everywhere.

About Sal Khan

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking School.

About Andreas Schleicher's TED Talk

Andreas Schleicher created PISA, an exam that compares the knowledge of 15-year-olds from around the world. He says the test can help us understand why some countries perform better than others.

About Andreas Schleicher

Tyler DeWitt: How Do We Get Kids Hooked On Science?

Aug 11, 2017

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking School.

About Tyler DeWitt's TED Talk

When a student complained that science textbooks were boring, teacher Tyler DeWitt got thinking about how he can make his lessons fun. DeWitt recounts his quest to make kids care about science.

About Tyler DeWitt

"Remember, it's Vegas rules, guys. What happens here, stays here," says Alexander Chan to a room full of giggling high school teenagers as he goes over the ground rules for a workshop all about healthy relationships.

Chan's background is in marriage and family therapy. Now he's an educator with 4-H in Prince George's County, Md., where he leads a youth development program, through University of Maryland Extension, to help local teens understand and cultivate positive romantic partnerships.

lockers with books inside
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Between a new state pension plan and Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of the Democrats' school funding plan, some school districts would be in for a big hit in July 2020. The two changes would have a particularly significant impact on districts with high rates of teacher turnover and declining enrollment.

In the wake of a series of sexual assault allegations, college athletes, coaches and athletics administrators at NCAA member schools must now complete annual sexual violence prevention education.

row of lockers
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

School districts are due to receive state funds Aug. 10th, but that can't happen until lawmakers either override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of Senate Bill 1 or come up with some other plan he will sign.

Steven Isaacs — @mr_isaacs on Twitter — is a full-time technology teacher in Baskingridge, N.J. He's also the co-founder of a new festival that set the Guinness World Record for largest gathering dedicated to a single video game.

The game that cements both halves of his life together? Minecraft.

When People With Autism Encounter Police

Aug 8, 2017

With guest host John Donvan.

Missed social cues are awkward. But what happens when poor communication is a matter of life and death?

People with autism are significantly more likely to have an encounter with law enforcement over the course of their lives. Now, more police officers are being trained to better understand their interactions with men, women and children on the autism spectrum.

It's a fall tradition: Students don college sweatshirts and their parents, meanwhile, sweat the tuition bills.

One flash-in-the-pan movie this summer even featured a couple, played by Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, who start a casino to cope with their kids' college costs.

Annual tuition hikes have been pretty much a given in higher ed, but recently, there are signs that the decades-long rise in college costs is nearing a peak.

The cubist revolution, now in its eighth year, is thriving.

That's Minecraft cubes, of course.

The game where you build virtual Lego-like worlds and populate them with people, animals and just about everything in between is one of the most popular games ever made; it's second only to Tetris as the best-selling video game of all time. There's gold in them thar cubes: More than 120 million copies have sold since Minecraft launched in 2009.*

So what's behind the game's enduring appeal?

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