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

Nikita Chinchwade moved from India to the U.S. last fall to get a master's degree.

"It had been a dream of mine for a very long time because of the quality of education here," she says.

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If you're looking for the 5th-12th grade contest click here.

Step 1: Read the entry requirements. Podcasts must be between three and eight minutes long. Read more here.

Step 2: Upload to SoundCloud. You'll need to make it publicly viewable and downloadable, so our judges can listen.

What does college sound like? For the past two years the NPR Student Podcast Challenge has been open to students in grades 5-12. We've heard podcasts about climate change and racism and what it's like to be young at this moment.

A sweeping new review of national test data suggests the pandemic-driven jump to online learning has had little impact on children's reading growth and has only somewhat slowed gains in math. That positive news comes from the testing nonprofit NWEA and covers nearly 4.4 million U.S. students in grades three through eight. But the report also includes a worrying caveat: Many of the nation's most vulnerable students are missing from the data.

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Jamesha Waddell spent nearly two months in the hospital with COVID-19. She died earlier this month at just 23 years old.

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Parent Mandii Brower vividly remembers what it was like when her kids' school in Yukon, Okla., switched to distance learning in the spring: "It was just like, we never learned with our teachers again. They never checked on things again." She says "school" consisted of just a few short daily assignments.

"I [couldn't] see my kids' education going that way."

Just 10 days after closing New York City's schools because of rising coronavirus cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that the nation's largest school district will begin a phased reopening next week.

On Dec. 7, buildings will reopen for elementary school students and on Dec. 10, District 75, which serves students with disabilities, will reopen.

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Renee Allen is a law professor in Brooklyn, and she and her mother have something in common.

As coronavirus cases increase across the U.S., children have been increasingly testing positive as well.

Elizabeth Hawse, a pediatrician in Lexington, Ky., says she has seen a jump from earlier this year, when she was getting "sporadic calls."

"But over the past few weeks, we are seeing more and more kids calling the office that they've been exposed or family members exposed and more and more positive cases," Hawse tells Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition.

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What to make of the tenure of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos depends, like beauty itself, on the eye of the beholder.

In another sign of the enduring nationwide impact of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City — still the U.S. city with the highest death toll — announced it will again close its schools for in-person learning as of Thursday, Nov. 19.

The announcement came after 2 p.m. ET at a news conference that had been delayed for several hours, adding to the anxiety of many families that had feared the closure was coming.

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Lately, Echo Fridley has had a raspy voice and a sore throat. Not from illness but from many hours on the phone talking with other students about quarantine and isolation, as a contact tracer at Syracuse University.

"I'm definitely super-overwhelmed," says Fridley, a junior studying public health and biology. "We've seen such an explosion of cases."

President-elect Joe Biden has affirmed his support for erasing some student debt "immediately."

Student debt forgiveness was a major campaign plank of some of his more progressive rivals for the Democratic nomination, but it remains controversial even among some Democrats.

Stanford University appeared to distance itself from Dr. Scott Atlas, a prominent member of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force, following his remarks that residents of Michigan should "rise up" against the state's new coronavirus restrictions.

Stanford officials said in a statement that Atlas' position was his alone, and his comments were "inconsistent with the university's approach in response to the pandemic."

Kids, this comic is for you.

You've been living through this pandemic for months, and you might be feeling sad, frustrated or upset. But there are lots of different ways to deal with your worries – and make yourself feel better. Here are some tips and advice to help you through.

Print and fold a zine version of this comic here. Here are directions on how to fold it.

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When President-elect Joe Biden delivered his acceptance speech, he gave this shoutout.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: For American educators, this is a great day for you all.

(CHEERING)

Sandy Kretschmer imagines her son Henry returning home from college, dropping his bags and then giving her a big hug. But she knows the reality of this homecoming may be a lot different.

"I'll probably have a mask on, and he'll have a mask on when I hug him," she says.

Henry plans to take a COVID-19 test a few days before he leaves Iowa State University where he's a junior, and he'll self-quarantine until he heads home to Chicago.

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Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Life Cycles Of Cities.

In the heart of urban Brooklyn, a 300-year old farmhouse still stands. Archaeologist Alyssa Loorya explains how artifacts found at the site trace the life cycles of New York City--from 1720 to today.

About Alyssa Loorya

Mahua Barve lives in Frankfurt, Germany, with her husband, a son in first grade and twin daughters in kindergarten. All three children are currently attending school full time and in person. That's despite a coronavirus surge that has led Germany to shut down restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms, tattoo parlors and brothels (which are legal in the country) for November. Schools were allowed to remain open.

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Updated at 3:28 p.m. ET

A federal appeals court in Boston has ruled Harvard doesn't intentionally discriminate against Asian American applicants in its admissions process.

The panel of judges upheld a federal district court's decision from last year, teeing up a possible case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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President-elect Joe Biden says President Trump's refusal to accept the outcome of the election is not affecting his transition plans.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

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