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

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., are introducing legislation Wednesday that would make higher education free for most Americans by imposing new taxes on many Wall Street transactions.

Kai Humphrey, 9, has been learning from home for more than a year. He badly misses his Washington, D.C., elementary school, along with his friends and the bustle of the classroom.

"I will be the first person ever to have every single person in the world as my friend," he said on a recent Zoom call, his sandy brown hair hanging down to his shoulder blades. From Kai, this kind of proclamation doesn't feel like bragging, more like exuberant kindness.

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one teacher's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Episode 5

Shameem Patel, a second-grade teacher in Dallas, on personal growth and loss — and the skills needed to get through the pandemic

College-bound high schoolers are making their final deliberations ahead of May 1, the national deadline to pick a school. That day will mark the end of a hectic admissions season drastically shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many colleges dropped standardized testing requirements, and because some high schools gave pass/fail grades and canceled extracurriculars and sports, admissions counselors had to change how they read and evaluate applications.

UIS

The following is a commentary from Dr. Robert Smith, Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield. 

To say Leah Juelke is an award-winning teacher is a bit of an understatement. She was a top 10 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in 2020; she was North Dakota's Teacher of the Year in 2018; and she was awarded an NEA Foundation award for teaching excellence in 2019.

But Juelke, who teaches high school English learners in Fargo, N.D., says nothing prepared her for teaching during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The level of stress is exponentially higher. It's like nothing I've experienced before."

Liberty University is suing former president Jerry Falwell Jr. for millions of dollars, accusing him of withholding damaging personal information from school officials while negotiating a lucrative employment agreement for himself, among other allegations.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Two United States senators came to the phone yesterday. We'd called them to discuss their proposal to commit $1 billion of federal money to civics education.

Can I get each of you just to introduce yourself?

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one teacher's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Episode 4

Sarah Mamula, a high school orchestra teacher in Clark County Public Schools in Las Vegas, on shifting the paradigm.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In June 2019, attorney Warren Binford traveled to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Clint, Texas. She was there on a routine visit to monitor the government's compliance with the Flores Settlement Agreement, which governs how long and under what conditions migrant children can be held in detention facilities.

Duke University in North Carolina has announced that it will require students to have a COVID-19 vaccine when they return this fall. And the list of campuses with such policies is growing.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The marriage market is a market. There just aren't any prices. And when you can't put a price tag on something like love, economists have found ways to match people, as Sarah Gonzalez with our Planet Money podcast reports.

Why So Many Asian Americans Are Learning Remotely

Apr 9, 2021

Last month, Tsong Tong Vang was walking his 5-year-old grandson to the school bus in St. Paul, Minn., when, according to local media reports, a woman pulled up in a car and started yelling anti-Asian abuse and threats at him.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Far more Asian American students are learning remotely than members of any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S., according to the latest federal data. NPR's Anya Kamenetz reports that the reasons are complex, and the consequences may be damaging.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The San Francisco Board of Education will ultimately keep the names of dozens of public schools in a case of high-stakes second thoughts.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A story from Colorado College of a student grappling with finding her birth father OR an investigation from Penn State University into an amateur boxer's long-ago brush with The Greatest. How can you choose?

Well, we couldn't. After a judging process like no other, this year's Student Podcast Challenge: College Edition ended up with two grand-prize winners.

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one teacher's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Maria Lemire, a preschool teacher in the East Village, New York City, on the challenges of early childhood education during the pandemic.

Episode 3

Updated April 8, 2021 at 11:39 AM ET

Gabriel Toro choked up behind his mask as he described the lengths it took him to complete his bachelor's degree at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For the past year, college hasn't really looked like college. Some campuses are closed even when they're open. Lots of schools are doing classes largely or exclusively online. One thing that hasn't changed - the price.

There's a lot that is different this spring on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. It's quieter, since coronavirus safety protocols restrict large gatherings, and the dorm common areas are often empty. But there's one thing that hasn't changed: On most weekdays, you can find Lavonda Little at Reid Hall, a four-story residential building, working as a custodian, a job she's held for the last 16 years.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Updated March 31, 2021 at 8:17 AM ET

New clinical trials showed that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine elicits "100% efficacy and robust antibody responses" in adolescents from 12 to 15 years old, the drug company announced Wednesday. The trial included 2,260 participants; the results are even better than earlier responses from participants ages 16 to 25.

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: Educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one teacher's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Episode 2

Lori Chavez, a middle school social studies teacher in Kewa Pueblo, N.M., discusses the importance of staying connected to your community during lockdown.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Dr. Leana Wen says there's a big question in the debate over reopening schools that has to be asked.

From quarantining in dorms to staring at the screen in online classes — it was a wild year to be a college student. And, it turns out, it was a good year for us to welcome college students for the first time to the NPR Student Podcast Challenge.

Today we're announcing our favorites! From podcasts submitted from college students across the country, we've narrowed the list down to 10 finalists. You can read and listen to the full list here.

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