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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SIU President Randy Dunn avoided suspension Thursday, as trustees were split four-to-four on whether to place him on administrative leave.

"For the last 14 years I had been a stay at home mom and a soccer mom of three kids," says Lori Alhadeff. "On Valentine's Day my daughter was brutally shot down and murdered and I became a school safety activist."

That day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, when a 19-year-old former student killed Alyssa Alhadeff and 16 other people, changed many lives.

And it pushed the question of school safety once again to the front and center.

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The White House unveiled a plan Thursday to merge the Education and Labor departments into a single Cabinet agency: the Department of Education and the Workforce. The proposal is part of a 132-page document outlining a broad restructuring of the federal government. The changes would require congressional approval.

Lee V. Gaines / Illinois Newsroom

Chuck Bleyer is worried the southern Illinois school district he heads won’t be able to fill an open teacher position by the time classes start this fall.


Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The fate of Southern Illinois University's president may be decided tomorrow at a special meeting of SIU's board of trustees, which is set to consider placing Pres. Randy Dunn on administrative leave.

This decision comes amid a heated debate about dissolving the SIU system and making its two campuses independent entities.

We asked Jennifer Fuller, who has been covering this issue for nearly two decades, to explain how SIU got to this point.

 

Rhodes: How close are we to a breakup of these two university campuses?

Jennifer Fuller: You know, it appears to be the closest that it has been.

Every evening after dinner, Herman Agbavor and his 5-year-old son, Herbert, have a ritual. Little Herbert climbs into his dad's lap, unzips his book bag and they go over his kindergarten homework.

The two of them have been doing some variation of this homework routine since Herbert was 1. That's when Agbavor first enrolled the boy in preschool.

They live in a working-class neighborhood of Ghana's capital city, Accra — in a cement block apartment in a multifamily house that has a television and lots of books but no indoor plumbing.

David Jackson

A team of Chicago Tribune reporters looked into cases of sexual misconduct in the city's public schools spanning a decade. Their series 'Betrayed' tells the stories of students abused by educators or other school employees. We talked to David Jackson — one of the reporters involved — about what they uncovered. 

Our Take A Number series is exploring problems around the world through the lens of a single number.

Some high school students think of applying to colleges as a full-time job. There are essays and tests, loads of financial documents to assemble and calculations to make. After all that comes a big decision — one of the biggest of their young lives.

For top students who come from low-income families, the challenge is particularly difficult.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Illinois has struggled for decades to persuade high school graduates to stay in-state for college. The recent two-year budget impasse only made things worse. Now, a group of lawmakers has a plan to reverse the trend, starting with the state’s Monetary Award Program.

Ben Zimmerman lives in a suburb of Chicago. Like a lot of 9-year-olds, he's fond of YouTube, Roblox, and Minecraft.

And, like a lot of parents, his mom and dad wanted to make sure Ben wasn't spending too much time on those activities. They tried to use Google's "Family Link" parental control software to limit screen time for Ben and his older sister, Claudia.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Changes Coming To AP World History Classes

Jun 16, 2018

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Want to know what the teenagers in your life really think about sex and drugs?

Are you sure?

Well, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a pretty good idea, thanks to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Every other year, thousands of teens in public and private high schools across the country take this nationally representative survey. The CDC just released results for 2017, and here are a few of the highlights:

Sex

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

Curriculum changes for AP World History

This week, educators and students expressed their opposition to the College Board's decision to cut out parts of the Advanced Placement World History curriculum.

The College Board announced in May that it was removing early world history from the nationally taught high school course. Starting in 2019, the AP World History exam will only assess content from 1450 to the present.

In an intense legal battle over the role of race in Harvard University's admissions policies, a group that is suing the school says Harvard lowers the rankings of Asian-American applicants in a way that is unconstitutional.

Harvard says that its admissions process is legal — and it notes that the plaintiff group, the Students for Fair Admissions, is backed by the same activist who previously challenged the University of Texas' affirmative action policy.

When La Guardia Cross first heard his wife was having a child, "it completely caught me off guard. I didn't feel ready."

By the time his daughter Amalah was born in 2014 — although still freaking out — he got out his camera and started recording. The hospital room — him holding his little baby in his arms. Amalah sleeping. Amalah crying. Lots of stuff about diapers and poop.

"Sometimes we take for granted that kids know how to wash dishes," says Susan Turgeson, president of the Association of Teacher Educators for family and consumer sciences. "I never thought I was going to have to explain, step by step, how to put the drain plug in, the amount of soap to be used."

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Turn on the radio between 7 and 8 p.m. on Sunday night in certain parts of Turkey or Syria and this is what you'll hear.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "RADIO DODO")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking French).

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On New Year's Eve, back in 2012, Savannah Eason retreated into her bedroom and picked up a pair of scissors.

"I was holding them up to my palm as if to cut myself," she says. "Clearly what was happening was I needed someone to do something."

Her dad managed to wrestle the scissors from her hands, but that night it had become clear she needed help.

"It was really scary," she recalls. "I was sobbing the whole time."

Savannah was in high school at the time. She says the pressure she felt to succeed — to aim high — had left her anxious and depressed.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Seventeen-year-old Lulabel Seitz was a model student, and the first in her family to graduate from high school. With an above 4.0 GPA, she was class valedictorian at Petaluma High School in northern California, which meant she would give the commencement speech at her graduation.

When gunfire broke out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February, teacher Melody Herzfeld rushed into action. As shooting went off, she closed the door to her drama classroom, shouted instructions to students on what to do and waited for the rampage to end.

This week saw the first public session of the school safety commission formed by President Trump after the Parkland shooting and headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Alexandra Lange's interest in school design started in her childhood, when she read Little House on the Prairie, with its indelible depiction of Laura's one-room schoolhouse in Wisconsin.

Today, she's an architecture and design critic. Her new book, The Design of Childhood, considers the physical spaces where our children learn and grow: from the living room rug crowded with toys, to the streets, welcoming or dangerous, to classrooms, bright and new or dilapidated.

Courtesy of Kassie Jones

In the Farrington school district, near Mount Vernon, a new teacher makes less than $29,000 — even with a master’s degree. Farrington is one of the lowest-paying districts, but state officials say some 7,000 teachers statewide makes less than $40,000.

A new state law just approved by the legislature would change that.

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