schools

The Phoenix Center

The state has some of the most aggressive protections for transgender people in the country, but the issue still generates controversy here.

Illinois, with its expansive decade-old anti-discrimination law, is one of the most progressive states in the country when it comes to transgender rights, but even in this state there has been a noisy response to rapidly evolving national and local policies on the issue.

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.

Peoria Public Radio

Illinois requires high school students take four years of gym class, but a proposal in the Illinois Senate could allow some students to opt out.

Senate Bill 114 would allow local school boards to excuse students from physical education if they are taking two or more Advanced Placement, or AP, classes.

Senator Pamela Althoff says she's talked with parents who are concerned about getting their children into competitive colleges.

flickr/dcjohn

Bet many of you didn’t know that the state of Illinois has the power to take over your local schools.

As in - fire school board members - even those you and your neighbors voted for. As in put a new superintendent in place. But two years ago - it did just that.

The state took over two school districts. One in East Saint Louis. The other in North Chicago...a low income and racially mixed suburb wedged between more the tony North Shore and Waukegan.

KOCH: You have to take actions when kids aren’t getting the basics. And that’s certainly what’s happening here.

A computer lab at North Elementary School in Marshall
WUIS/Illinois Issues

 Benjamin Churchill has been spending extra time with his daughter at the computer lately. Quinn, 8, will be taking her first state exam this school year, and unlike the tests her dad took, this one won’t require a No. 2 pencil. 

Education Inequality
WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s been a decade since a blue-ribbon panel outlined an ambitious plan designed to finally force the state to provide an adequate level of funding for Illinois schoolchildren.

But, just as they’ve failed in the past, Illinois policymakers have again fallen far short of the goals laid out in the 2002 Education Funding Advisory Board report. The state’s recently approved budget will leave many school districts having to dip into their reserve funds, take out loans or, if labor contracts allow for it, cut personnel and programs to deal with a $161 million cut in general state aid.

 

The job of a school nurse is changing. More students suffer from complicated medical problems related to asthma, diabetes and obesity. And more health symptoms are showing up that may be rooted in emotional stressors, including a troubled home life, a drug problem or a behavior disorder. So, with an eye to preventive care, school administrators are looking for new ways to serve adolescents who are most vulnerable to health risks. 

Advocacy groups argue that a one-size-fits-all policy to measure accountability is unfair, particularly in such an economically diverse state as Illinois.

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s not clear whether the governor gets his breakfast cereal in those oversized boxes that line the aisles of no-frills superstores. But when it comes to the state, Rod Blagojevich is big on buying in bulk. The underlying theory: Use the purchasing power of state government to lower prices for local governments.

Phyllis Hopwood sent all six of her children to Steward Elementary School. She has taught her neighbors’ children in the tiny schoolhouse for almost three decades. So it is difficult for her to watch what is happening to Steward.

Something historic happened in Decatur last February. For the first time in more than 40 years, voters approved a tax increase for the city's cash-strapped public schools. But even that imminent infusion of new property tax dollars wasn't enough to stop the flow of red ink. The district is pressing ahead with $7.2 million in budget cuts, including the fall layoffs of 140 teachers.