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

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At a high school in Washington, D.C., this past week, Bridget Cronin looked on as public school workers shuffled through the two dozen vaccination stations that lined the building's atrium.

Volunteers alternated waving green placards to usher in the next patient. Red placards were on hand to signal the need for more vaccine doses.

The mass vaccination event to immunize teachers and other public school workers in the district, held at Dunbar High School, was the culmination of weeks of long planning.

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We're going to end the program today where we began - in Texas. As we've been reporting, residents there are still struggling to cope with the effects of that powerful winter storm that hit the state several days ago. Officials are warning millions of people to boil their water for safety after heavy damage from burst water pipes contaminated the supply. And even though power has been restored to most people who lost it at the height of the storm, many still don't have electricity, including thousands of people in the city of Houston.

At a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, President Biden was asked if he supported the idea of forgiving up to $50,000 of student loan debt for individuals.

His answer: No. He supports cancelling $10,000 in debt, he explained. But he said he is wary of erasing big chunks of loans for people who went to Ivy League schools: "The idea that ... I'm going to forgive the debt, the billions of dollars in debt, for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn ..."

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All schools in New Zealand will offer free sanitary products to students starting in June, officials said Thursday. The initiative, which aims to combat period poverty, expands on a pilot program that launched last year.

For months, Democrats in Washington have been debating what to do about student loan debt. About 43 million borrowers owe $1.6 trillion in federal student loans.

For many families, paying for college is one of the biggest financial decisions they'll make. College tuition is the highest it's ever been — and the financial aid process is anything but clear. American journalist Ron Lieber's new book, The Price You Pay for College aims to take the black box of college financials and, "turn it lighter and lighter shades of gray."

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Here is a consequence of being the world leader in coronavirus - a virus that spreads a lot has a lot of chances to mutate, and COVID has.

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High school senior Audrianna Hill has been playing basketball since she was five years old. But this winter, with Covid-19 cases rising, there was a chance she might not get to play. Her Detroit school has been virtual since the pandemic began, and the basketball season has been pushed back multiple times since September. Basketball is a big part of who she is, and she's been banking on her last year of playing to help get her recruited. The suspensions haven't helped.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Friday its much-anticipated, updated guidance to help school leaders decide how to safely bring students back into classrooms, or keep them there.

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In 2010, Indian teacher Ranjitsinh Disale heard that one of his teenage female students was going to marry a man in his 30s.

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President Biden wants to reopen schools across the country within his first 100 days in office and has already signed executive actions to free up funding and increase personal protective equipment and testing for school districts.

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Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET

Chicago students will start returning to school for in-person classes this week, after the city and the teachers' union reached an agreement on how to reopen schools safely. The deal provides for teachers and staff to receive vaccines, prioritized according to their return to school buildings.

The agreement calls for Chicago Public Schools to provide "at least 1,500 first vaccine doses per week" to employees, with second doses guaranteed.

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It was supposed to be a secret, a quiet way to support people who desperately need help. But word got out about what North Charleston High School Principal Henry Darby was doing – and the state has now presented him with its highest civilian honor.

When Dirigo High School, in western Maine, moved to remote learning for a few weeks last fall, sophomore Mason Ducharme started falling behind. And without athletics, he lost any motivation to keep his grades up.

"I just didn't do anything, I just sat in my room all day," he said. "And I didn't do any work. I didn't attend any classes."

Many school districts across the country have reported big drop-offs in attendance as they've shifted to remote learning. Some students, like Ducharme, dropped off the map entirely.

It's been 11 months since schools first shut down across the country and around the world.

And most students in the U.S. are still experiencing disruptions to their learning — going into the classroom only a few days a week or not at all.

To respond to this disruption, education leaders are calling for a reinvention of public education on the order of the Marshall Plan, the massive U.S. initiative to rebuild Western Europe after the devastations of World War II.

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