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

In a move it said was to address the large cost of entering a career in medicine, New York University's School of Medicine said Thursday that it will offer full scholarships to all current and future students in its doctor of medicine program.

NYU said it was the "only top 10-ranked" medical school in the U.S. to offer such a generous package.

Lies My Teacher Told Me

Aug 16, 2018

“The American Journey” is a classroom staple. The textbook has been described as a ‘superb, readable presentation of American history, from pre-exploration to the present.’ It is read by millions who are often tested on its contents every year.

But sociologist James Loewen discovered that the 2015 edition of the book contained passages like this one, about The Civil War.

The Future Of For-Profit Colleges

Aug 16, 2018

Higher education facilities like the University of Phoenix and Capella Universities have been heavily scrutinized by journalists and the federal government alike.

That’s because they are for-profit colleges. But under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, regulations around them may change.

On Friday, DeVos’ administration moved to eliminate a rule that required for-profit college to demonstrate that enrolled students can be gainfully employed.

Summer is not over yet, but many parents are getting ready to send their kids off to college.

It's one of those major turning points in life, not just for kids but also for parents, especially those are who are saying goodbye to their last or only child: They are about to become empty nesters.

Is your last child moving out of the house to go to college? If so, NPR's Morning Edition wants to hear from you. Please share your story with us below, or here. An NPR producer may follow up with you.

As students prepare to go back to school, more and more parents are thinking about school safety. A recent poll found 34 percent of parents fear for their child's physical safety at school. That's almost triple the number of parents from 2013.

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, it is back to school season. Millions of teachers across this country are getting their lesson plans together. They're decorating their bulletin boards. Others, though, are busy elsewhere, like on the campaign trail.

Michelle McAnarney said she realized her daughter Darby was different than other children soon after she was born.

"She was always a little delayed physically," said McAnarney, a Springfield resident. Darby was well over a year old when she started walking, but "once she could walk, I'm not even joking the next day she was running," she said.

If McAnarney and her husband took Darby, who is now four years old, to loud or chaotic places, she'd become overwhelmed -- tip a plate over in a restaurant, throw a tantrum in a grocery store -- in an attempt to exit the situation.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And now to a parent of Parkland students. One, Patrick, is a senior there this year. Another, 14-year-old Alaina, was one of the students killed in the shooting in February. Their father, Ryan Petty, joins us now. Hey, Mr. Petty.

Here’s a new phrase for you: “The Googlification of the classroom.” Tech reporter Natasha Singer covered it for The New York Times in 2017.

She wrote that Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the country has been at the forefront of introducing the tech giant’s low-cost and free tools into the classroom.

Google bypassed administrators and school boards, reaching out directly to educators, she wrote, and it raises the question of whether our public schools should “turn out knowledgeable citizens or skilled workers.”

Sandy Hook. Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Columbine.

These names are synonymous with the terror of a school shooting.

But the amount of school shootings isn’t growing, despite enhanced fear.

NPR spoke to an expert who has done research on school shootings.

A Colorado school district intent on saving money has cut one of its greatest costs: teaching.

In Defense Of The (Liberal) Arts

Aug 14, 2018

A concept familiar to those in business and finance is cropping up more often in college searches: ROI, or return on investment. No longer limited to investment banking, parents, students and educators across the nation are now wondering whether all degrees are created equal, especially in light of expensive college costs.

In the grand pantheon of cafeteria misdeeds, few are more dastardly than the crime of stealing lunch money. And popular culture offers up no end of usual suspects, from vindictive older siblings to schoolyard bully.

But in New Canaan, Conn., the whodunit has taken a new twist. Police say two unusual culprits are to blame after two public schools mysteriously lost nearly $500,000 of lunch money in a five-year span — the cafeteria workers behind the register.

How To Make A Civics Education Stick

Aug 14, 2018

How do you teach kids to be active participants in government? Or to tell the difference between real news and fake news?

In their last legislative sessions, 27 states considered bills or other proposals that aim to answer these questions. Many of those proposals are rooted in popular ideas about the best ways to teach civics, including when kids should start, what they should learn and how to apply those lessons. Here's a look at some of those concepts.

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

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.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Pages