Dusty Rhodes

Reporter - Education Desk

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014. But it's not her years of experience or her education that help her understand this beat. It's her sons -- "one homemade, one adopted" -- who have vastly different types of intelligence and vastly different learning styles. Between the two of them, she's experienced public, charter, Montessori and magnet schools, gifted, IEP and 504 accommodations, and uncountable band concerts, science fairs, basketball games, and parent/teacher conferences. It's the parent/teacher conferences that always make her cry.

Paris Taborn

Paris Taborn chose to leave Springfield High.

“I kept getting in trouble at school. So like, I would get sent home, and stuff, every day. I would just come to school -- oh, your shirt’s too short. Come to school -- your bra strap’s showing.”

She didn’t get into fights; she didn’t threaten a teacher. She just had a lot of tardies and dress code violations that she felt were unfair.

“They would literally come in our class and be like ‘Black girls have more butt than white girls; that’s why we don’t say anything to them.’ "

  

A researcher on national education issues came to central Illinois this week to give teachers a back-to-school pep talk and to give them ideas on how to improve kids' learning.

John Draper, a former middle school teacher and principal, works for the National School Public Relations Association. It's his job to tout neighborhood schools, and he did plenty of that in his presentation to Macon County teachers this week. 

But Draper also pitched a few ideas that would shake up traditional school calendars. 

University of Illinois Public Affairs

Illinois’ popular truth-in-tuition law was designed to keep college affordable. Since 2003, parents have banked on Illinois’ popular truth-in-tuition law that guarantees their kids’ tuition rate will remain stable for at least four years.

James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says that allows families to plan their finances, making the state’s public universities an attractive option. 

But think about it: 

L. Brian Stauffer / University of Illinois News Bureau

The University of Illinois today released a batch of emails exchanged between Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Provost Ilesamni Adesida, spokesperson Robin Kaler, and others, discussing how to handle the university's job offer to Steven Salaita. The Board of Trustees voted not to approve Salaita, due to his Twitter postings about the Israeli conflict in Gaza. 

If you want your kids to get into an Ivy League school, you might want to read this fascinating story from Fast Company. And btw, my kids call me mom. 

http://www.fastcompany.com/3049289/most-creative-people/use-these-two-words-on-your-college-essay-to-get-into-harvard

Courtesy of Gwen Harrison

Ted Harrison is proud that his son, Malik, plays football for Eastern Illinois University on a full scholarship. But ask Harrison about his son’s history of concussions, and he’s not sure he knows the exact number. He thinks the first one occurred during an afternoon practice early in Malik’s playing career at Springfield High School.

The Harrisons weren't notified by the coaching staff.

“We were alerted by Malik," Harrison says. 

Chicago Tribune reveals info about new science test required for 5th, 8th and 10th graders this year.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-illinois-science-test-met-20150804-story.html#page=1

Courtesy of IBHE

Last anybody heard, Gov. Bruce Rauner wanted to cut higher education spending drastically, by more than 30 percent. But with the budget  stalled in the legislature, colleges have no idea how much money they’ll get.  

James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says this kind of chaos costs money.

“This is an extremely inefficient way to run a shop,” he says.

 

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

On Tuesday evening, Apple DeWeese was sitting in the front porch swing with her dad, Aaron, trying to explain how she's feeling about starting school.

"I'm not really excited," she said. "Mostly scared."

What's there to be scared of?


A nationwide survey recently published found that Illinois school districts typically don’t mention gay, lesbian and transgender students in their anti-bullying policies.

Our next-door-neighbor state has legally ended its relationship with the curriculum associated with Common Core. 

http://themissouritimes.com/19496/state-abandons-common-core-testing/

#thingsthathappenedwhileiwasonvacation

The highly-touted 25-year-old program that boasts it's more selective than Harvard comes under criticism from its own alums in a new book edited by T. Jameson Brewer.

Courtesy of Funding Illinois Future


Governor Bruce Rauner has approved the portion of the state budget earmarked for public schools. His move yesterday ensures schools will be able to open on time.

The legislation even increases funding for education by more than $200 million dollars over the previous year. But the new money has strings attached.

US CPSC/flickr

A bill awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature would require Illinois schools to install carbon monoxide detectors.

One Monday morning last fall, some students and teachers at North Mac Middle School in Girard weren’t feeling well. The health teacher, Alan Love, who also happens to be a registered nurse, told superintendent Marica Cullen the school might have a gas leak.

WILL

The American Association of University Professors voted today to censure the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state’s flagship university. Censure is a means of informing the academic community worldwide that the administration of an institution “has not adhered to generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.”


A couple of years ago, two people in Urbana were hit by darts fired from a blow-dart gun. They weren't seriously injured. That’s not what this story is about.  

The attacks were so random, and frankly so weird, that most people found them humorous. One of those happened to be a middle-school teacher, who posted a comment on Facebook.

Cortlon Cofield posed with his sister Chloe at his graduation last May.
Cprtlon Cofield

Cortlon Cofield said Thursday nights were always special during his freshman year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. That’s because Thursdays were "Food for the Soul" night in the Florida Avenue Residence Hall (known as FAR).

Timothy Killeen will make this announcement today, in a speech at the City Club of Chicago. 

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues


A plan awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner's signature would overhaul the way schools handle discipline. We wanted to meet some of the young activists behind the legislation. 

Timothy Killeen
Bill Wheelhouse / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Timothy Killeen, the new president of the University of Illinois, met with reporters on the Springfield campus last week. Flanked by the chancellors of the university’s three campuses, Killeen said they were touring the state as part of a strategic planning process that would culminate next spring in a “statement of shared vision.”

PARCC Chop

May 21, 2015
animation of clock ticking quickly with student at laptop
Milo Skalicky / for NPR Illinois

  

School administrators are typically too polite to say “Told ya so!” but they have every right to when it comes to the PARCC test -- the new standardized test associated with the Common Core curriculum. The chief complaint about the test, implemented this year, was that it took 10 hours. Schools had to suspend their normal schedules for up to a month at a time, as they shuttled classes into and out of computer labs. One section was given in March, and another in May, making a double dose of disruption.

Students at statehouse.
Joanna Klonsky / VOYCE

A measure that would limit the way schools hand out discipline has made its way through the Illinois legislature and is awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner's signature.

David Wilson / davidwilson1949 via Flickr.com

Governor Bruce Rauner's proposed 40 percent cut in Amtrak funding drew objections from 16 university and municipal officials on Tuesday morning. 

 Schools as small as Spoon River College and as large as the University of Illinois flagship in Urbana-Champaign rely on Amtrak trains to bring their students to campus. They say the cut would reduce services and negatively affect enrollment at all downstate schools.  

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS-Illinois Issues


These days, it seems like every agency in Illinois is complaining about cutbacks. Public school officials, however, are seasoned veterans, having seen the state slash their funding repeatedly over the past few years. Now, they argue how the pain is distributed.

WUIS Education Desk logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

All signs point to more charter schools in our future. So I got a crash course from Christopher Lubienski. Click below to listen.

Illinois State Senator Pat McGuire headshot
ilga.gov

High school students taking advanced placement exams know they have to score at least a 3 on a 5-point scale to pass. What they don't know is which Illinois universities will give them credit for that score.

Stella Cole

 

    

I should begin with a word of warning: This story contains several F-words -- and by that, I mean facts, figures and school funding formulas. These have been known to befuddle the very state officials in charge of understanding this stuff. For example, here’s Curt Bradshaw, a third-year member of the Illinois State Board of Education (commonly referred to as ISBE), thinking out loud at their last board meeting: 

Illinois General Assembly

 

Current state law prohibits people with felony records from working in a school, or volunteering, or even driving a truck that makes deliveries to a school. But a measure pending before the Illinois House of Representatives could change that.

State Representative Kelly Cassidy — a Chicago Democrat — sponsors the legislation.

"What we operate under now is based on the assumption that someone with a criminal history is always a criminal, and never eligible to return to productive society,” she says.

courtesy of Oxygen

 

Springfield native Calise Hawkins will be featured in Funny Girls, a new comedy series premiering tonight on the Oxygen channel. Starring six female comics, it’s part reality show, part stand-up showcase, and -- unlike a lot of things on television these days -- it’s not a competition.

“We’re not in this to bash each other and, like, step on each other," Hawkins says. "We’re just living our lives and being in the same field at the same time."

What made her think she could do this?

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