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

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As public universities in Illinois have seen enrollment declines in recent years, one state lawmaker has an idea aimed at keeping high school graduates from leaving.

Public servants with student loans were furious, and the U.S. Department of Education heard them. The department revealed Thursday that it will simplify the process for borrowers to apply for an expansion of the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

It has been more than two years since the nation's most powerful financial watchdog examined the companies that manage about $1.5 trillion of federal student loans owed by 43 million borrowers.

On Thursday, two members of the Senate Banking Committee said they're exasperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's continuing failure to pursue mounting problems with the way student loans are handled.

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Documents illustrate what happens when a student is put in an isolation room.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

Charles Lieber, the chair of Harvard University's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has been arrested and criminally charged with making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the U.S. Defense Department about his ties to a Chinese government program to recruit foreign scientists and researchers.

The final moments of Friday afternoon are slipping away at Eastern High School in Lansing, Mich., as announcements echo through the halls.

As students stream through the doors, teacher Dee Halstead is rolling her supply cart to the library. Her workday is just ramping up.

"This is my classroom on wheels," Halstead said. "It's my laptop and all of the papers I need to give the students and my flash drive so I can print off this exam."

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Nowadays, if you're a teenager who's good at video games there's a lot more to be had than just a pot of virtual gold.

There's college scholarships, tournament money and high salary jobs.

Today, more than 170 colleges and universities participate. And there's money on the table — more than $16 million in college scholarships. Naturally, high schools have followed suit.

This year, 17 states and the District of Columbia are offering formal esports teams.

Courtesy of Marcus Chatfield

Listeners may have heard some of our series on Illinois special education students being sent out of state, many to “behavior modification” programs. One response we got was from Marcus Chatfield, currently working toward his PhD at the University of Florida. He has written two thesis papers on such programs.

Chatfield has been interested in this topic since the 1980s, when he was placed in the Straight Incorporated center in Springfield, Virginia, as a teenager. Straight Incorporated was a massive drug treatment program that operated 43 centers across 18 States until 1993, when it shut down facing investigations documenting abuse and multimillion dollar judgments in several lawsuits.

 

Chatfield spoke with our education reporter.

Courtesy of Illinois Education Association

A suburban Chicago school teacher is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to agree she can use her paid sick days for maternity leave. The catch? Her baby was born in June, on the last full day of the school year. The teacher wanted to use her remaining 28 paid sick days at the start of the following school year. 

 

Adam Dauksas, an attorney representing the school district, told the court that interpretation disconnects the leave from the birth, and could have absurd results.

In 2015, a Boston University student was assaulted in her dorm room. The perpetrator was an unescorted visitor on campus. Her door was allegedly unlocked. Now she’s suing the school for not protecting her.

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A few years ago, Lauren had a big problem. The Queens, N.Y., resident had graduated from college with an art degree as the Great Recession had hit. She had private student loans with high interest rates. For work, all she could find were retail jobs. And by 2016, her loans had ballooned to about $200,000.

" 'I can't afford to actually pay my bills and eat and pay my rent,' " she remembers thinking. "I was financially handicapped. I mean, my student loan payments were higher than my rent was."

Updated at 1:13 p.m. ET

One of the nation's largest teachers unions sued U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday. The complaint: She repealed a rule meant to protect student loan borrowers from for-profit and career-focused schools that graduate them with too much debt and limited job prospects.

Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT), says the lawsuit's message is clear: "Protect the students of the United States of America — not the for-profit [schools] that are making a buck off of them."

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It wasn't just the fact that one of China's best universities had changed its charter last December to emphasize loyalty to the ruling Communist Party that raised eyebrows. Shanghai's Fudan University also deleted principles like freedom of thought, and did so publicly, as if expecting praise.

Furious students staged a rare and risky protest in the school cafeteria in December. They sang the school's anthem, which praises academic freedom.

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A teenage girl, Greta Thunberg, has become the world-famous face of the climate strike movement. But she's far from alone: Thunberg has helped rally and inspire others — especially girls.

Updated at 2:46 a.m. ET Sunday

On Friday, President Trump added former independent counsel Ken Starr to the legal team that will defend him in the Senate impeachment trial.

Starr is best known for leading an investigation into President Bill Clinton's affair with a White House intern during the 1990s.

The News Roundup - International

Jan 17, 2020

As protesters take to the streets in Iran over a downed Ukranian airliner, the State Department canceled a classified Congressional briefing that was supposed to focus on U.S.-Iranian relations and embassy security.

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Illinois State Board of Education

The Illinois State Board of Education yesterday approved a budget request seeking $9.6 billion dollars in state funds, most of which will go to the state’s “evidence-based funding” model, designed to bring all school districts up to adequate funding.

Puneet Chowdhary lives in Michigan and researches Parkinson’s disease. She’s worked in the U.S. legally since 2001. She got married here, and her two children are U.S. citizens.

And she’s one of an estimated 800,000 immigrants waiting in the decades-long line for a green card.

Our producer Avery spoke to Puneet, and here are some excerpts from their conversation.

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Ashley's Law
Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Around 94,000 medical marijuana licenses have been issued in Illinois, and about 600 of them are for children under the age of 18.

Students who need medical marijuana – typically to treat conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy – used to have to rely on their parents to come to school and give them their treatment. Now, students can get their cannabis from the school nurse, or administer it themselves under the nurse’s supervision.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has pledged to cancel up to $50,000 of debt for 95% of student loan borrowers if she is elected president. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has proposed an even more generous plan if he's elected.

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