Maureen Foertsch McKinney

News Editor

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers,  and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

painting of children asking for help
Valerie Everett

The first installment in a series on homelessness looks at a campaign to get the city and public schools to target the needs of homeless Chicago students.

UIS

University of Illinois Springfield researchers are taking an unusual tack at getting funds to do research. They have created a crowdfunding account to pay for testing kits. They plan to investigate hepatitis c in homeless people in central Illinois.

UIS professors Kanwal Alvarez and Josiah Alamu need to raise at least $500 and hope to get $2,000.

Alvarez says UIS researchers have not used the fundraising method previously.

Voices For Illinois Children, National Women's Law Center

Illinois fares poorly in a recent national report looking at access to child care assistance. In fact, the state ranks dead last after after cuts were made in July to drastically reduce maximum income levels for families to qualify. The report, by the Washington, D.C.-based National Women’s Policy Center, compared policies between the states as well as the District of Columbia.

UIS

  People in the transgender community deserve the same rights as anyone else. So said more than 80 percent of respondents in a national survey conducted by the

University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office.

A boarded up apartment building
Robert Loerzel / Illinois Issues

The Illinois poverty rate hovers above pre-recession levels at 14.4 percent, according to Census numbers released Thursday. In all, 1.8 million Illinoisans live in poverty.

Meanwhile, income in Illinois is stagnant even though job growth is up, according to numbers crunched by the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance.

This is likely a consequence of the state’s budget woes, says Kimberly Drew, an economic security specialist at the alliance.

Drew says cuts in social programs because of the budget impasse are likely to worsen the effects of poverty in the state.

Crayons and children's books
Donnie Nunnley

Limits on who is eligible for this Welfare-to-Work program sparked intense debate in Springfield.  But the fight isn’t over. 

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Just under 2 million people a year are fed by food banks in Illinois, according to the 2015 report of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger, which released its annual analysis last week.

Photograph by Yoshiko Dart / Access Living

Twenty-five years after the landmark federal law, people with disabilities in Illinois still have trouble getting hired.

Access Living

In July, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill calling for language that would create respectful references to people with disabilities throughout state law.

Wikipedia

Sunday marked the anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Recently, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an extensive story marking the occasion. To learn about that story and get an update on what’s happening in Ferguson, I talked with the story’s author, Kevin McDermott.

Professor Maria Krysan
University Of Illinois At Chicago

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major opinion on housing discrimination. It determined that violations of the federal 1968 Fair Housing Act could occur even if intent to discriminate is not shown.

Meanwhile, the federal Housing and Urban Development administration announced new regulations that clarify the expectations of the act, which aims to limit racial bias in housing. They demand that cities and towns across the country analyze housing patterns for signs of racial discrimination and report the findings.

Several people commenting on my story last week: “Why Are Women Poor?” wrote that women in the story would not be in poverty if they had been married.

Picture of Zylinska family
Magdelina Zylinska

Nearly half of Illinois children in households headed by single women live in poverty — compared with just over a quarter of children in households headed by single men.

Nicholas Hartlep headshot
Illinois State University

With titles like “We Can’t Breathe” and “Grey Hoodies, Baggy Jeans, and Brown Skin,” a newly released book of essays stood out from much of the information that comes across the Equity blog radar. So we looked up co-editor Nicholas Hartlep, a professor in educational foundations at Illinois State University.  The book, published by Rowman and Littlefield, features 57 essays.  Hartlep, an author of several works on the topic of race, talked with Maureen Foertsch McKinney, who acts as co-curator of WUIS/Illinois’ Equity blog. 

American Quarter Horse Association

Illinois’ male public officials and politicians aren’t the only ones to behave badly. A recent study looked at the cases of 29 Illinois women involved in corrupt acts over a 25-year-period.

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Lisa Madigan pushed legislation calling for new policies to handle sexual assault cases on Illinois campuses. The bill was approved by both Houses in late May.

An international debate has churned since a Muslim chaplain from Northwestern University complained about her treatment on a United Airlines-operated flight.

I talked with University of Illinois professor Stacy Harwood, co-leader of a project on racial  microaggression,  about whether that flight attendant’s action could be considered racist.  


Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren / Harvard

A recent study showed that children who grow up in poverty have a better shot at economic mobility depending on where they live.

The study, by economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren of Harvard University, was based on earning records for millions of families and is part of an ongoing effort called The Equality of Opportunity Project.

"We show that the area in which a child grow up has significant causal effects on her prospects for upward mobility," the report states.

Equality Illinois

LGBT supporters have been in an uproar since Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. Illinois has had a similar law on the books for years but it never raised a stir. The leader of Equality Illinois explains why.

Sex traffic in the US isn't exclusive to people forced to come here against their will. Illinois residents and natives have also become part of the black-market industry. So says Jody Raphael, a DePaul University law professor and researcher. She'll speak Tuesday night at 7pm at UIS (info HERE). She recently spoke with us about her work:

The Corporation for Enterprise Development

A new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline found that “in all 50 states, the percentage of ‘middle-class’ households — those making between 67 percent and 200 percent of the state’s median income — shrunk between 2000 and 2013.”

In Illinois, according to the assessment, that share slipped from 49.8 percent in 2000 to 45.8 percent in 2013. The median income in this state was $56,210 in 2013, down from an inflation-adjusted $64,201 in 2000.

Pew Research Center

The foreign-born population in the United States is projected to soar to record highs over the next half-century, a Pew Research Center analysis of Census projections shows.

Projections indicate that the immigrant population of 78 million will be nearly 19 percent of the U.S. population by 2060.

The Census Bureau projects that the previous immigrant share of the nation’s population will surpass the previous 1890 high of about 15 percent as soon as a decade from now.

Institute for Women's Policy Research

  Illinois earned a B- in a new report assessing status of women’s employment and wages in the states.

The report is a project of the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

According to the assessment, in Illinois, women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earned, and women will not receive equal pay in the state for another 50 years.
Meanwhile, 30 percent of women in Illinois have low-wage jobs.

Illinois ranked 16th overall. States were scored 1 to 5 and Illinois received a 4.11.

The Brookings Institute

A report released today found that women who are the poorest are five times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy as opposed to wealthy women.

The Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute prepared a report that compared sexual activity, contraception use and abortion rates among women representing different economic levels. Women who were the poorest had the greatest number of unintended pregnancies, while abortion rates were highest for the most affluent, according to researchers.

Alex Wroblewki

One of the major sources for our November Illinois Issues story on young black males is the author of a recently released study that points to a way things are tougher for that demographic group in poor inner-city environments. 

As victims of crime, they are less likely to get their murder cases resolved, particularly if a gun is involved. 

Illinois girls lag behind other states in the number that enroll in science, technology, engineering and math classes, according to a recent University of Illinois report commissioned by the Illinois State Board of Education.

In STEM courses, Illinois females represent 15 percent of the enrollments as opposed to 31 percent nationwide.

 The poverty rate in Illinois has held steady in recent years despite the nation’s post-Great Recession status.

That’s according to a report issued this week by the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center. The group reported that the 14.7 percent poverty rate in Illinois for the 2013 (the most recent data available for the analysis) has been unchanged since 2012. The 2011 poverty rate was slightly higher than that at 15 percent.

Pew Research Center

The newly seated 114th Congress is the most ethically diverse in the nation’s history, but the numbers are still far from proportionate to the country’s population. The information comes from an analysis from the Pew Research Center that was released yesterday.

Non-whites account for 17 percent of the Congress seated earlier this month — but that trails far behind the share of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, which accounts for 38 percent of the total population.

When looking specifically at new members, they account for 15 percent of Congress. 

Maureen Foertsch McKinney headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Editor's note:
January marks a new phase in our journalism.  Due to the merger between WUIS and Illinois Issues, we now have a number of journalists that enable reporting on a beat model.  A beat allows a reporter to learn events and people more thoroughly than general assignment reporting.  Each reporter is focusing on key issues in the state.  We're calling it the "Illinois Issues Initiative." 

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Maureen Foertsch McKinney

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