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

As the nation's eyes were on Broward County, Florida, for a flawed, week long election recount, a state commission a few miles away was investigating the county government's role in the Feb. 14 massacre at a Parkland high school. It found that failed leadership, inconsistent or unenforced policies, and misinformation contributed to the 17 deaths.

Large community potlucks and school plays where students dress up as Pilgrims and Indians help students learn the familiar story of the very first Thanksgiving. The holiday gives schools an opportunity to bring history to life for their young students. Although it wasn't called Thanksgiving in 1620, the story celebrates Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together to celebrate a successful harvest.

Here's What College Freshmen Are Reading

Nov 22, 2018

The college common reading program is usually a freshman's first, unofficial assignment. The program is a way schools try to stimulate discussion.

Not every school participates in these programs, but the ones that do pick books – both fiction and nonfiction – ranging in topics from race and politics to climate change.

Courtesy of School District U-46

Tony Sanders is the CEO of Unit 46 in Elgin — the state's second-largest school district, with almost 40,000 students. Right now, he's short at least 30 teachers. He's using retired teachers as long-term substitutes. Even though those retirees can teach only 120 days out of the 178-day school year, Sanders knows he’s got it better than superintendents in districts that don’t have a deep bench of subs.

"Yeah, if it weren't for retirees, we would really be in a jam,” Sanders says. “Luckily, a lot of retirees like to come back and still be in a classroom."

One of the companies that handles federal student loans has been steering some borrowers toward repayment plans that cost them more money over time.

That's the finding of a report that the Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid did on Navient, one of its loan servicers. But while FSA offered suggestions for improving some of Navient's practices, it says the company didn't necessarily do anything wrong.

Illinois Newsroom

Students across Illinois are calling for tougher campus policies on sexual harassment and misconduct as the Trump administration proposes changes to federal law that victims’ rights advocates say would weaken guidelines that are already lacking.

The sudden outbreak of chickenpox at a North Carolina private school isn't exactly surprising.

At least 36 students have become infected with the disease at Asheville Waldorf School in the city of Asheville — a school that has among the highest rates of parents who received an exemption from the state's vaccination requirements.

NPR Ed wants to know about the student gifts that still stand out among the cookies and cards of past holiday seasons.

Teachers, tell us: What's the most memorable gift you've received from a student? What made it great? Did it make you laugh or cry? Why have you held on to it?

Submit your story here, along with a photo. (You can also fill the form out here.) We may contact you for more information and feature your story on NPR.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

When the Illinois state legislature passed its new school funding law, it changed more than just the dollar amount each school district receives. It also changed the number of hours of instruction schools have to provide.

Under the old law, schools had to provide at least five “clock hours” of instruction per school day. Now, there’s no minimum number of hours — or minutes — because that provision of the school code got wiped out by the legislature.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

In what is the largest individual donation ever made to a single university, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Sunday that he is donating $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University to assist students with financial aid.

School shootings have taken a terrible human toll. They have also been a boon to the business of security technology.

Over the summer, Washington Post reporter John Woodrow Cox saw an array of items on display at an expo in Orlando, Fla. He and fellow reporter Steven Rich went on to investigate whether any of the technology being promoted and sold really helps save lives.

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

New rules on college campus sexual assault and harassment

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

A recent study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy shows that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign stands out among similar schools for its low percentage of minority students.

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

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Texas' Board of Education voted Friday to change the way its students learn about the Civil War. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, students will be taught that slavery played a "central role" in the war.

The state's previous social studies standards listed three causes for the Civil War: sectionalism, states' rights and slavery, in that order. In September, the board's Democrats proposed listing slavery as the only cause.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

If you do a Google image search for "classroom," you'll mostly see one familiar scene: rows or groups of desks, with a spot at the front of the room for the teacher.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced sweeping rules on how colleges handle cases of sexual assault and harassment that she says will fix a "failed" and "shameful" system that has been unfair to accused students.

We don't expect you to be experts. In fact, we expect that most of you are putting a podcast together for the first time.

And even though this is a contest, it's also about learning new skills in a fun way. We want to make that learning easier — so we've put together a guide to help you along the way.

Getting Started

Your Toolbox

Whether you're leading your class or advising an extracurricular group, we hope this guide will make the podcasting process easier.

Below, you'll find a breakdown of the process and a series of sample lesson plans to ensure that students have the skills and background knowledge to start making a podcast.

For our contest, teachers must submit entries to NPR, but we expect that students themselves are the ones creating them. (Teachers: The submission form is here.)

OK, class, listen up!

Here's your assignment for next semester: Take a topic, a lesson or a unit you're learning about, and turn it into a podcast.

Yup, we're launching the first-ever NPR Student Podcast Challenge. It's a chance for teachers and students in grades five through 12 across the country to turn your classrooms into production studios, your assignments into scripts and your ideas into sound.

Have something to say? Now is your chance.

A ruling by a federal judge last month seemed like it would end a long legal battle between Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and tens of thousands of student loan borrowers waiting to have their debts canceled. But as of Tuesday, there is a new round of litigation.

Student debt in the U.S. now stands at about $1.5 trillion. It's a number we often call a crisis, advising students to avoid borrowing if they possibly can.

It's a rainy fall Saturday and a 17-year-old named Jerry is spending yet another morning at the GPS Academy, an education enrichment center in New York City.

"I mean, I've been pretty stressed," he says. He applied for early decision to the University of Pennsylvania, where he wants to study business.

No one ever shows up at brunch and says, "Oh my gosh, I was so sober last night!"

Risky behavior draws attention. As a result, people tend to assume that everyone else is doing it more than they really are.

But, over the last two decades, research on college campuses has shown that giving students the real facts about their peers reduces unsafe drinking. This approach is called positive social norms. It works because of a basic truth of human nature: People want to do what others are doing.

Hello! We know there's a lot of news out there, but we're bringing you an education-centric take on the midterms, with big results in some key states.

Arizona

illinoisreportcard.com / Illinois State Board of Education

In Illinois, more than 80 percent of all public school teachers are white. But odds are, most of the children in their classrooms are Hispanic, Black, Asian, or a mixture of races. Only 48 percent of public school students are white.

Emily Fox is trying to bring those numbers closer together. She is “director of educator effectiveness” at the Illinois State Board of Education.

Illinois Newsroom

Every college campus has standards and policies to prevent sexual harassment. But time and again, repeated complaints are filed against professors for saying and doing inappropriate things -- yet they often keep their jobs. Documents and interviews from two recent cases on campuses in Illinois shed some light on the reasons why this remains a persistent issue at many schools.

4 Myths About College Students And Voting

Nov 6, 2018

Updated on Nov. 12 at 10:30 a.m.

Efforts to increase youth voter turnout helped, at least according to early estimates. NPR's Brakkton Booker reports that early figures show youth voter turnout in the midterms jumped in 2018. Read below for our original story about why analysts who study youth voters expected this.

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