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Yolanda Harrington walks one of her students into Barkstall Elementary in Champaign. Harrington, who had dreams of becoming a teacher, makes $18 an hour and works a second job. She has been a paraprofessional for 19 years.
Courtesy of the Student's Family

Could One Answer To Teacher Shortage Be Right Under Our Nose?

Like most states, Illinois is struggling with a severe teacher shortage. And, also like most states, that shortage is felt most profoundly in the area of special education. There is, however, an army of teacher assistants already on the job. Could they help relieve this shortage?

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Hemp Program Underway In Illinois

Corn and soybean fields as far as the eye can see are the typical sights of summer throughout rural areas of Illinois. But next year, 'fields of green' will take on an entirely different meaning as farmers will soon be allowed to grow industrial hemp.

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Education Desk

The new school year marches on, and so does our weekly roundup.

Tropical Storm Florence closes schools in the Carolinas

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Statehouse

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner attempts to reset his campaign with a speech to a small group of supporters. Will it be enough to overcome the 14 percentage points that separate the Republican incumbent from his Democratic opponent, J.B. Pritzker?

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Health+Harvest Desk

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The Illinois Department of Public Health said they are trying to prevent an outbreak of Hepatitis A after several neighboring states have experienced their own.

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Arts & Life

Rachel Otwell / Michael Christensen

A fiddling duo is playing Civil War era tunes on the Old State Capitol plaza in downtown Springfield. Near them is a log cabin on wheels (well, technically it's made of cardboard) with a large ball attached to it - fashioned to look as though it was made of iron or steel, with the words "link on to Lincoln." It's old-timey propaganda created by a contemporary Illinois artist.

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Equity

I miss Bill Cunningham. There. I said it. I miss opening the Thursday and Sunday pages of the New York Times and seeing a whole cross-section of humanity, courtesy of Cunningham's photos, that had become a documentation of how New Yorkers lived and what they wore.

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Illinois Economy

Southern Illinoisan

This fall marks 35 years since Air Illinois Flight 710 crashed.   The commuter service flew to many smaller airports and provided a quick way for travelers to venture across the state.

That is until October 11, 1983.   The plane took off from Springfield, quickly ran into trouble and a half hour later went down in a southern Illinois farm field near Pinckneyville,  killing all 10 aboard.

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A concealed firearm.
Mark Holloway via Flickr

An Illinois Senate committee has approved legislation that would pave the way for concealed-carry of firearms in Illinois. But gun-rights advocates say it's too restrictive, and the measure faces an uphill climb.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, was trying to negotiate a compromise with gun-rights supporters. But ultimately he went his own way. His proposal would not allow guns in schools, day cares, casinos, and stadiums.

Peter Gray

The State of Illinois caps the number of high needs learners who share the attention of a single special education teacher.

For the past decade, there has also been a limit on how many children with disabilities can be placed in what are known as “general education” public school classrooms.

But those rules could soon be repealed.

The mother of a young man with autism has joined advocates for the disabled who say the proposed change has to do more with cost-savings than with properly educating kids.

FARNSWORTH: “My name is George Farnsworth.”

Flickr.com/thebuffafamily

Just over two weeks remain before the Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the summer, on May 31st. They still have a lot to deal with in that time — like pensions, concealed carry, same-sex marriage, and next year's budget. But an incident Wednesday in the Illinois House shows tempers are already starting to flare.

Amanda Vinicky

After several stumbles, an agreement  has been reached on how to regulate "fracking" in Illinois.  A House committee could vote on the package Thursday morning.  

  The oil and natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing has been a boon for job creation in places like  North Dakota and Pennsylvania.

State legislators want the same in Illinois.

As do oil and gas drillers looking to make a handsome profit.

John Michael Presney is a Rochester native who’s spent the last couple years touring the country as part of a musical production that he played rockabilly star Carl Perkins in. But 25 year old Presney has crafted a music-style all his own. And he has a new EP called ‘The Nighttime and the Dawn’ to prove it.

  The third Springfield PrideFest is this Saturday. The all-day event celebrating gay pride includes food, drinks, and performances. The festival will be on Capitol Avenue between 4th and 6th streets downtown. WUIS’ Rachel Otwell recently spoke with Jonna Cooley about it, she’s the executive director of The Pheonix Center which puts on the event:

CLICK HERE for more info about the event on Saturday in downtown Springfield from noon to 9pm.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

A local elementary school is teaching students about growing their own food with a hands-on project. Rachel Otwell recently visited the community garden across from McClernand Elementary School and spoke with instructors and students as they planted and tended to plots. She brings us this story:

Thinkprogress.org

Could Illinois be getting closer to legalizing the medical use of marijuana?  Dan Riffle is with the Marijuana Policy Project, which has lobbied state lawmakers to approve the law.  He was a guest on WUIS’ Illinois Edition with Sean Crawford. 

road construction
Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Less than half of the money in Illinois' Road Fund actually pays for highway construction and maintenance. That's the finding in a new audit (pdf) that also says the Road Fund overpaid for employee health insurance.

Calvin Christian

Members of the Springfield City Council are looking for a way to prevent further incidents like the one in April in which police records were apparently shredded or deleted after they were requested by a local reporter through the Freedom of Information Act.

Tuesday night aldermen passed out of committee an ordinance that would require all changes to union contracts be approved by the Council and signed by the Mayor.  Such contractual changes are known as memorandums of understanding, or MOUs. 

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Darrell Hoemann

Illinois Newsroom Launches Ask the Newsroom: Election Edition

You want to be an informed and confident voter this election season, and Illinois Newsroom wants to help. Our statewide public media collaboration is delivering you the highest quality information around the Midterm Elections. And you’ll be our guide. We’re launching our Ask the Newsroom: Election Edition project so you can ask us your pressing questions about voting and elections in Illinois. You can submit a question through our submission box and on future Illinois Newsroom stories....

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Featured

Statewide: Fall Enrollment Data; Best State Budget Practices; Return Of the "Wide Awakes"

Statewide, with host Sean Crawford, brings you reports and conversations from in and around Illinois.

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Illinois Issues

PHOTOS COURTESY OF CANDIDATES' CAMPAIGNS

The Attorney General Race: Talk About The Speaker Dominates

Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan's decision to not seek re-election after over 15 years in office drew a plethora of candidates to the ballot. The last three standing, Republican nominee Erika Harold, Democratic candidate Kwame Raoul and Libertarian Bubba Harsy, continue to battle it out with just nine weeks until the general election.

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Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman / Released by the United States Marine Corps [Public Domain]

Fake Weed: The Danger And The Appeal

Politics

The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia want the legal authority to get any communications between President Trump and officials of foreign or U.S. state governments pertaining to his Trump International Hotel near the White House.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Wilco Guitarist Nels Cline Reclaims Mood Music In The City Of Brotherly Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDgMdQqwOsY Nels Cline has earned his place as a guitar hero for our times, with a track record stretching back four decades and a marquee gig with Wilco . But if you mainly associate him with squalls of feedback, you're missing a big part of the picture. "The Avant Romantic" is how Rolling Stone pegged him about a decade ago, in its list of Top 20 New Guitar Gods. And lately, Cline has been focusing his efforts, without pause or irony, on the romantic part of...

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George Walker, Trailblazing American Composer, Dies At 96

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W17alPNaVfY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YESPKGg0dGA Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, pianist and educator George Walker has died at the age of 96. Walker's death was first announced to NPR by one of his family members, Karen Schaefer. Gregory Walker, the composer's son, said his father died after complications of a kidney ailment Thursday at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, N.J. Walker's music was firmly rooted in the modern classical tradition, but also...

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