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

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Picture a professor in a tweed jacket lecturing about Aeschylus. Are you laughing out loud?

Likely not, but Julie Schumacher is a genius at finding the amusement in academia. Schumacher is the author of two hilarious novels about faculty life on campus: "Dear Committee Members" and this year's sequel, "The Shakespeare Requirement."

Katy Waldman reviewed Schumacher's latest book for The New Yorker.

Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been in education for a long time. He's worked at nearly every level of the system, as a tutor in a low-income neighborhood, as the superintendent of the Chicago school system, and then moving up to the federal level to serve under President Obama as the education secretary.

And he's known for his honesty. His new book, "How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success From One of the Nation's Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education," starts out with a chapter called "Lies, Lies Everywhere."

Ask A High Schooler

Aug 13, 2018

High school.

What kind of memories does it dredge up for you? Good, bad or something in-between? Would you go back if you had the chance? Depending on when you were enrolled, it's probably a lot different now than what lives in your nostalgic recollections.

Teachers report that unprecedented access to social media and other forms of technology is making it hard for kids to focus, and educators are constantly asking for students' attention. And with mountains of homework and early start times, many students might not be getting enough sleep.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

When I was a high school junior in New Orleans taking AP American history, my teacher assigned us a paperback book. Slim in contrast to our hulking required textbook, it was a funny, compelling, even shocking read. Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen, explained how history textbooks got the story of America wrong, usually by soft-pedaling, oversimplifying and burying the thorny drama and uncertainties of the past under a blanket of dull, voice-of-God narration.

Editor's note on Aug. 8, 2018: This piece has been substantially updated from a version published in 2014.

A solemn little boy with a bowl haircut is telling Mr. Rogers that his pet got hit by a car. More precisely, he's confiding this to Daniel Striped Tiger, the hand puppet that, Rogers' wife, Joanne, says, "pretty much was Fred."

Copyright 2018 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Turn on your TV and surf the stuff meant for kids. I dare you.

You'll likely find a surfeit of fast action and fart jokes. And that's what makes Esme & Roy so unusual.

The new show, about an unlikely duo who babysit monsters, is Sesame Workshop's first animated children's program in more than a decade, and it deftly combines the Workshop's parallel passions — for learning and play. In fact, Esme & Roy is dedicated to an idea that can feel radical these days:

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

From the policy of separating immigrant families, to limiting the power of labor unions, to naming the next justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, this summer the DeVos family name has been all over the news.

Over the years, the parents, in-laws and husband of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have given hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative causes. And many of those causes are front and center of policy initiatives and goals of the Trump administration right now.

The U.S. Education Department is going back to the drawing board on some basic rules of higher education, including one concept that has been in place for 125 years.

The goal? Unleash innovation to better serve students.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Department of Education wants to relax regulations on colleges and the agencies that accredit them. This includes how long-distance learning programs are defined. NPR's Cory Turner explains.

A judge has sentenced a former leader of the Penn State fraternity to three months of house arrest over the hazing death of Timothy Piazza last year. Ryan Burke, who was in charge of recruitment at Beta Theta Pi fraternity, is the first person to plead guilty in the case.

Burke admitted to hazing and other crimes. He is one of more than 20 defendants to face charges after investigators recovered evidence from a night in February 2017, when Piazza, 19, suffered serious injuries from a fall after being forced to drink large amounts of alcohol in a short span of time.

@assassinsgame16

At Springfield High School, Ethan Doyle is an honors student, a member of the baseball team, the investment club, and an elite student group known as Superintendent’s Roundtable. But perhaps his most notable accomplishment came during the spring of his sophomore year, when he assassinated more of his classmates than anybody else.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For Many College Students, Hunger 'Makes It Hard To Focus'

Jul 31, 2018

As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Go Ahead Of The Class

Jul 30, 2018
School desks
Flickr user: dcJohn www.flickr.com/photos/dcjohn/

A new Illinois law will give gifted children the chance to move ahead in public schools.

For the past three weeks, students across India's capital have been attending a radical new course: happiness.

The Delhi government introduced "happiness classes" in an effort to shift the country's academic focus from student achievement to emotional well-being. In a country that uses standardized testing to determine student success, offers a limited number of seats in top universities and sets high expectations, educators have been seeing mental health consequences.

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

Congress approves career tech bill

Believe it or not, it's still possible: This week, Congress approved a measure with bipartisan support.

The measure in question is a rewrite of the legislation that governs more than $1 billion of federal funding for career and technical education. CTE programs are meant to give students skills and hands-on experience in a range of important fields, from construction to the culinary arts.

The U.S. Education Department is proposing changes to Obama-era rules that offer debt relief for students who were defrauded by their colleges.

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Right to Speak.

About James Kirchick's TED Talk

When James Kirchick was in college, someone he found deeply offensive spoke on campus. Rather than protest, James attended the talk. He says free speech benefits everyone, especially the powerless.

About James Kirchick

Esperanza Yanez can spot a sick cow just by looking at it.

"The head hangs down and they don't eat," says Yanez, who immigrated from Mexico two decades ago and has been caring for cattle ever since.

While learning to communicate with animals takes years of patience, Yanez says the true language barrier exists between the dairy workers and the veterinarians who rarely speak Spanish. Medical terminology can be confusing, and to avoid embarrassment, Yanez says she and other workers may feign comprehension.

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

During their daughter's freshman year of high school, Paul and Joy Orton spent afternoons describing biology diagrams and illustrations to her. She is blind, and the materials given to her in class were not in a format she could read.

Their daughter had no trouble understanding the material, but she was dependent on her parents. She wanted to learn on her own, like her classmates did.

Her parents successfully lobbied their northern Alabama district for a Braille biology textbook.

A version of this interview ran in 2015.

Have you ever paid your kid for good grades? Have you driven to school to drop off a forgotten assignment? Have you done a college student's laundry? What about coming along to Junior's first job interview?

Look people in the eye. Smile. Shake hands. Sit up tall. Speak clearly and confidently.

That's the last-minute advice professor Paul Calhoun gives a handful of college students before they head off for a series of job interviews. The Skidmore College juniors and seniors he's talking to are dressed in suits and button-downs; dresses and heels. They stand out in a college library swimming with other finals-takers, most in sweatpants or leggings and T-shirts.

An earlier version of this piece ran in 2016.

"Why are traffic lights red, yellow and green?"

When a child asks you a question like this, you have a few options. You can shut her down with a "Just because." You can explain: "Red is for stop and green is for go." Or, you can turn the question back to her and help her figure out the answer with plenty of encouragement.

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