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 new report from a government watchdog, first obtained by NPR, says an expanded effort by Congress to forgive the student loans of public servants is remarkably unforgiving.

Congress created the expansion program last year in response to a growing outcry. Thousands of borrowers — nurses, teachers and other public servants — complained that the requirements for the original program were so rigid and poorly communicated that lawmakers needed to step in. But, documents show, even this expansion of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program isn't working.

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Google will pay $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and New York's attorney general. The complaint alleges Google's video platform YouTube earned hundreds of millions of dollars by tracking, profiling and targeting ads to children without parental consent. That is a violation of federal law.

NPR's Anya Kamenetz reports the FTC means to make YouTube safer, but some members of the commission itself say the settlement is too lenient.

Imagine this — you're going to school, and you hear that the government has banned homework. Wouldn't that be the best day ever?

Well, it actually happened in India. The government said there would be no homework for students in grades one and two. The reason: heavy school bags.

For many college students settling into their dorms this month, the path to campus — and paying for college — started long ago. And it likely involved their families.

The pressure to send kids to college, coupled with the realities of tuition, has fundamentally changed the experience of being middle class in America, says Caitlin Zaloom, an anthropologist and associate professor at New York University. It's changed the way that middle class parents raise their children, she adds, and shaped family dynamics along the way.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

Despite getting a 5 percent increase over last year’s state funding, the University of Illinois Springfield has announced a budget cut of up to 10 percent. The most immediate impact is the suspension of a program known as “desktop refresh,” which promises new computers to faculty and staff every four years.

Kristi Barnwell, a history professor and president of the union representing faculty, says this leaves her colleagues reliant upon equipment that no longer works.

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Tension Over Shooting Sports In Schools

Aug 30, 2019

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Updated at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday ET

The College Board is dropping its plan to give SAT-takers a single score that captures a student's economic hardship. The change comes after blowback from university officials and parents of those taking the college admissions exam.

More teens and young adults — particularly girls and young women — are reporting being depressed and anxious, compared with comparable numbers from the mid-2000s. Suicides are up too in that time period, most noticeably among girls ages 10 to 14.

These trends are the basis of a scientific controversy.

One hypothesis that has gotten a lot of traction is that with nearly every teen using a smartphone these days, digital media must take some of the blame for worsening mental health.

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The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a new student loan watchdog, and his appointment is raising questions about who is safeguarding the interests of student borrowers.

Dr. Kenneth Davis is the president and CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System in New York. Many credit him with its financial turnaround, setting the system on a new path to success.

Davis elaborated on the challenges he faced as the new head of the system in an interview with Advisory Board:

On a summer afternoon, Ciara Whelan, a teacher at a New York City elementary school, knocks on the apartment door of one of her students in the Bronx.

Melissa, the student's mother, welcomes her guest with a huge platter of snacks — shrimp rolls and dill dip. Melissa explains that this past school year — third grade — her daughter, Sapphira, fell behind in her reading because she got a phone and spent too much time messaging her friends on apps like TikTok. (We're not using their last names to protect the student's privacy.)

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When students head back to school, most kids walk or ride the bus. But for some special education students whose families live in Illinois, school is a residential facility or boarding school in another state. 

How many kids are we talking about? You might be surprised. When we asked Melissa Taylor, past president of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Ed to take her best guess, she wasn’t even close.

“Okay, so I’m thinking the wealthier suburban schools probably do more than I think they do, so let’s say 200,” Taylor says.

 

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A 15-year-old kid named Marques Brownlee posted a video to his YouTube channel reviewing a laptop remote on Jan. 1, 2009. Nine years later, Brownlee was interviewing Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk.

The YouTube star has come a long way.

Today, Brownlee’s tech reviews and other videos have over 9 million subscribers and 1.41 billion views on YouTube.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Put down those Popsicles. No more sleeping in. Beach time is over.

Economists have long hated summer vacation. All those wasted school facilities! All that educational backsliding! Kids are getting dumber!

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Litigating Title IX

Aug 18, 2019

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Teaching To Protect The Hopi Language

Aug 17, 2019

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What if you could change your child's future in just one hour a week? One educator says there's a secret weapon out there to help struggling students - their families. NPR's Anya Kamenetz has the story.

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