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

Lee V. Gaines/Illinois Newsroom

Yuliana Quintana worries she won’t succeed in college because she didn’t have access to lab equipment, Advanced Placement classes, and other resources during her high school years.

There's a scene in the movie Mean Girls where new student Cady Heron gets a lesson from her friend, Janice Ian, about the social hierarchy of the high school cafeteria.

"Where you sit in the cafeteria is crucial," Janice says. She then maps out the cliques, including preps, jocks and, of course, the "plastics."

The scene is an exaggeration of a common experience: the stress of finding your place in a school cafeteria. But Wisconsin resident Smitha Chintamaneni can't relate.

Another round of federal criminal charges has hit the plea deal holdouts in the Varsity Blues college admissions bribery scandal that broke earlier this year.

Copyright 2019 WBEZ Chicago. To see more, visit WBEZ Chicago.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And now we have a challenge.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

NPR's education team is asking teachers and students to turn their classrooms into studios and their lessons into podcasts. Yep, that's right. The NPR Student Podcast Challenge is back.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Back in the spring, we had a group of eighth-graders from the Bronx on the show. They were the grand prize winners of the first ever NPR student podcast challenge.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "SSSH! PERIODS")

JASMIN ACOSTA: Sixty-seven percent of female students polled at Bronx Prep Middle School said that they feel uncomfortable discussing their periods at school because it's not anybody's business.

LITZY ENCARNACION: We're still in middle school at this point, but the problem gets even larger when we take it out into the community when it...

OK, teachers, you asked for it: It's time once again to turn your classrooms into studios and your lessons into podcasts. That's right, the NPR Student Podcast Challenge is back.

It's a chance for your students to compete with young people all over the country for our grand prize: your students' story appearing on NPR's Morning Edition or All Things Considered.

Last school year, we received nearly 6,000 entries from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with more than 25,000 students participating.

Copyright 2019 WKMS. To see more, visit WKMS.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Department of Education has proposed several key changes to its massive survey that collects data from the nation's public schools on a wide range of civil rights issues.

Among the changes, the 2019-2020 version of the Civil Rights Data Collection would remove questions that focus on preschool and school finance. The proposals would also add in more questions about sexual assault and bullying based on religion.

Updated at 5:28 p.m. ET

Four U.S. senators told the head of the nation's top consumer protection agency Thursday that they want her to launch examinations into serious problems with a program designed to offer loan forgiveness to public service workers.

Copyright 2019 WBEZ Chicago. To see more, visit WBEZ Chicago.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Vice President Mike Pence is in Turkey today. He's trying to negotiate a cease-fire.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Chicago Teachers Go On Strike

Oct 17, 2019

Copyright 2019 WBEZ Chicago. To see more, visit WBEZ Chicago.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Teachers are on strike in Chicago today. The teachers union voted unanimously for that move in the nation's fourth-largest school district. And Sarah Karp of our member station WBEZ is covering this story. Good morning.

For the second time in seven years, Chicago Public Schools teachers will be on strike starting Thursday, walking out of class, they say, in the name of better schools.

Gathered on the stage of the union hall on Wednesday, the Chicago Teachers Union said its delegates were in full support of moving forward with a strike. Delegates had already authorized the walkout and set a date so it would have taken a reversal to cancel the strike.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says classes in the city's public schools will be canceled Thursday for 299,000 children, in anticipation of an expected teacher strike.

The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools have been locked in a months-long contract dispute over higher pay, caps on class size and other issues. The union's delegates plan to meet Wednesday evening to vote on whether to move forward with the strike.

Rachel Otwell

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign committee released on Tuesday its recommended changes to how the university handles claims of sexual misconduct against faculty.

Starting early last year, the nation's most powerful consumer protection agency sent examiners into companies that run student loan call centers to try to fix a troubled loan forgiveness program. But the Department of Education blocked the bureau from getting the information it needed, NPR has learned.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is designed to help firefighters, military service members, nonprofit workers and others. But thousands of people say they were treated unfairly and rejected.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have news now about a student loan forgiveness program that is troubled. NPR has learned the Trump administration blocked a consumer protection agency from trying to fix it. The program is meant to help public service workers and those who work for nonprofits, but thousands say they were unfairly rejected. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Wendy Feliciano works for the police department in New York City.

WENDY FELICIANO: I am a sergeant in the NYPD, and I work in the Bronx - in the Bronx borough.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Women Look To Close Inventor Gender Gap

Oct 13, 2019

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Even though about half of all Ph.D.s in the United States are awarded to women, only 12% of patent inventors are female. That's according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Patent Office, and Mercedes Meyer thinks she knows why that is.

MERCEDES MEYER: We are being categorized at a young age, and we are being domesticated into a mindset of girls don't do that. Girls don't invent.

Golden Apple

In Illinois, students of color comprise more than half of the school population, but their teachers are overwhelmingly white. And even when schools recruit and hire teachers of color, those educators tend to leave the profession much faster than their white colleagues. A recent report took a look at what schools can do to encourage Black and Latinx teachers to stay.

Rural America has never been only one place, one type of person or one type of job.

And new data points to the growing complexity and diversity of those parts of the country.

Author and podcast host Sarah Smarsh wrote in The New York Times recently about so-called “brain gain” instead of “brain drain.”

Schools across the country are so fed up with students vaping on campus that they're suing the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs.

Multiple districts filed lawsuits on Monday, including school systems in Olathe, Kan.; St. Charles, Mo.; Long Island, N.Y.; and La Conner, Wash. Three of those suits charge that Juul has hooked a generation of young smokers with its sweet flavors, placing a burden on schools.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Keith Allison / - https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/2334872072/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17653644

Last week, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing college athletes to get endorsement deals, he set off a wave of copycat legislation proposed in at least a dozen more states, including Illinois. 

State Representative Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside) filed a bill here to make sure Illinois keeps up. 

"If I'm a coach in California right now, this is an amazing recruiting tool, and I think it places them at an advantage in the recruiting arena. And so I'd like to make sure colleges and universities in Illinois have the same tool that California universities do,” Welch says.

A majority of parents rarely, if ever, discuss race/ethnicity, gender, class or other categories of social identity with their kids, according to a new, nationally representative survey of more than 6,000 parents conducted by Sesame Workshop and NORC at the University of Chicago.

Kate Szumanski still remembers the note her professor wrote at the top of an essay in her senior year: "This is a good argument ... Why don't you come visit me at office hours and we'll talk about graduate school."

By all accounts this was a good note. Szumanski got an A on the paper – and she'd done well in the political science class all semester. But that note terrified her. "I started to shake, my cheeks turned bright red," she told me recently. In all four years of college, she'd never once gone to office hours.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In the struggle to end global warming, one community in central Pennsylvania is having remarkable success. It's growing, with tens of thousands of people, yet its greenhouse emissions have been dropping dramatically.

Perhaps most amazing: Those reductions have paid for themselves.

This is not your typical town — it's Penn State University. But in many ways, it's just like any other town or small city.

Pages