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

A longtime higher education leader will be the interim chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Karen Whitney will take over for Susan Koch, who is retiring at the end of the month.   Whitney will serve in the interim role while a national search is conducted for a permanent chancellor.

Sixth-graders who used the power of two languages — Mandarin and English — to express how Asian students in their city suffered during the early days of the coronavirus.

And high school seniors who looked at inequality — and the activism that seeks to change it — to demand they be heard in the fight against climate change.

Meet the grand prize winners of the 2020 NPR Student Podcast Challenge!

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When Luc Jasmin III took over Parkview Early Learning Center six years ago, he wanted to create a safe space where young children could not only be cared for but also get an educational foundation to prepare them for a lifetime of learning.

During normal times, the center in Spokane, Wash., serves about 100 children who range in age from 4 weeks old to 13 years. The center didn't close down during the coronavirus pandemic, except for a couple of days to retrain staff on social distancing and cleaning guidelines.

Grade schools in the United Kingdom began a staged reopening Monday, welcoming back the first wave of students since closing in late March to all but vulnerable children and children of essential workers.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Reinvention.

Former gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field led her team to victory by creating a supportive environment, instead of a cutthroat one. The impact of that decision, she says, echoes far beyond the gym.

About Valorie Kondos Field

When I was in high school, the best way I could describe myself was as a parent's worst nightmare: I didn't care about my education, didn't do homework, and was known to sleep in class. My SAT score was so bad that I still don't know how I did! My very frustrated mom threw that letter in the trash.

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Columbia, Brown, Penn, Purdue — universities with hallowed traditions, proud alumni and another thing in common: Right now they're being sued by disgruntled students.

The students claim that when campuses shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, they should have been entitled to more of their money back. And the list of institutions facing such challenges is growing, including private institutions and entire public systems in California, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona.

Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

As University of Illinois officials deliberate over how to reopen the Urbana campus this fall, a group of faculty members say they don’t believe the university can safely allow tens of thousands of students back into residence halls and classrooms this year. 

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One hundred thousand - it's a number we've been saying a lot this week. But behind that COVID-19 death toll are individuals like Brian Miller. He was 52.

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Prom portraits are often windows into the past, capturing a moment in time with a special person, or friends you've lost touch with. It's a celebration of hard work; a well-earned break from studying and stress.

Four out of 10 of the poorest U.S. students are accessing remote learning as little as once a week or less, according to a new survey from ParentsTogether, an advocacy group. By contrast, for families making more than $100,000 a year, 83% of kids are doing distance learning every day, with the majority engaged over two hours a day, the survey found.

Coronavirus, homework, sports, climate change: Working in the midst of a nationwide school shutdown, high school and middle school students around the country took on these and many more topics in this year's NPR Student Podcast Challenge.

After two deadline extensions and a lot of creative solutions to the challenges of recording from their homes, we received more than 2,000 podcasts from 46 states and the District of Columbia.

School district lines have become engines of inequity in many states. Not only can they be used to keep children out of a neighborhood's schools, they can also keep a district's wealth in. But with many districts facing severe budget cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic, a new report proposes a radical solution:

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Much of the country is reopening slowly. But it's not like businesses are just jumping back in at full force.

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Austin Beutner looked haggard, his face a curtain of worry lines. The superintendent of the second-largest school district in the nation sat at a desk last week delivering a video address to Los Angeles families. But he began with a stark message clearly meant for another audience:

Lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

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How far will China go to keep its hold on Hong Kong?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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The coronavirus test wasn't as bad as Celeste Torres imagined. Standing outside a dorm at the University of California, San Diego, Torres stuck a swab up a nostril, scanned a QR code, and went on with the day.

"The process itself was about five minutes," Torres says, "I did cry a little bit just because it's, I guess, a natural reaction."

NPR's Michel Martin speaks with special education teacher Anna Jones and school administrator Wayne Stewart about how the coronavirus pandemic has changed their work as educators.

NPR's Michel Martin speaks with special education teacher Anna Jones and school administrator Wayne Stewart about how the coronavirus pandemic has changed their work as educators.

U of I Bans ‘Intimate’ Faculty-Undergraduate Student Relationships

May 21, 2020
Travis Stansel / Illinois Public Media

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved changes to its policies on hiring as well as faculty and staff relationships with students and subordinates. 

Congressional Democrats have accused U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of trying to reroute hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The coronavirus rescue package, known as the CARES Act, included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.

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