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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George Washington University says associate professor Jessica A. Krug has resigned, after a blog post published under her name last week said she had invented several Black identities.

The blog post stated that Krug is actually a white, Jewish woman from the Midwest, who for years has "assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness."

Teen and youth anxiety and depression are getting worse since COVID lockdowns began in March, early studies suggest, and many experts say they fear a corresponding increase in youth suicide.

At the end of June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed Americans on their mental health. They found symptoms of anxiety and depression were up sharply across the board between March and June, compared with the same time the previous year. And young people seemed to be the hardest-hit of any group.

Sean Crawford/NPR Illinois

Despite a global health threat and concerns of students taking a gap year, enrollment on the University of Illinois Springfield campus saw only a slight decline.  That gives hope the school might be able to weather the disruption brought on by the pandemic.

As millions of students return to virtual classes at their dining room tables, some parents who are also trying to work from home have decided to ship their kids off to camp.

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Six months into schools' pandemic-driven experiment in distance learning, much has been said (and debated) about whether children are learning. But the more urgent question, for the more than 30 million kids who depend on U.S. schools for free or reduced-price meals, is this:

Are they eating?

The answer, based on recent data and interviews with school nutrition leaders and anti-hunger advocates across the country, is alarming.

At 6' 2", wearing a purple tunic and crowned with a sky blue hat, Soumana Saley cut a dramatic figure at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival's "Crafts of African Fashion" program in 2018. He was surrounded by his leatherwork — from wallets to sandals to shoulder bags with etched geometric designs reflecting the art of his homeland, Niger. He now lives in Millersburg, Penn. When we spoke, he had two sources of income: He worked in a factory and he sold his leather goods at festivals — the biggest bags going for hundreds of dollars.

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Alison Causey's weekdays have been like many other college students'.

ALISON CAUSEY: Having breakfast, getting ready. To be honest, I don't really dress up very much. I just try to wear something very comfortable.

After a steady rise in coronavirus cases, Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania has restricted students to their dormitories and moved all classes online in a sweeping quarantine that began Tuesday and will last at least through the end of the week.

Gettysburg, which has more than 2,000 students enrolled, is believed to be the first U.S. college to enact such a measure.

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The coronavirus knows no borders. And that means people living half a world apart face some of the same upended routines, daily challenges and new normals, including teachers. Ira Onkar is an English teacher in Mumbai, India.

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Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Finding Another Way

After nine years and the birth of their son, Ebony Roberts and Shaka Senghor ultimately separated. But they made a vow: despite the conflict that led to their split, they'd still co-parent as a team.

About Ebony Roberts

There's a LOT of education news these days. Here's an overview of the stories from this week that you might have missed, plus some valuable links we've gleaned from around the web.

First let's turn to the world of higher education.

Donnie Nunley / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A researcher at the University of Illinois recently showed how child care providers have been hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Elizabeth Powers is an economist at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. She says measures put in place to slow COVID-19 reduced revenues for childcare centers and  restricted the number of slots that were available to families.

Christine Herman/Illinois Newsroom

URBANA – About a thousand students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have tested positive for COVID-19 since twice-a-week coronavirus testing became mandatory for all students on Aug. 16.

A university that many researchers have touted as a potential model for reopening campuses to in-person classes is hitting some bumps in the road. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had implemented a mass coronavirus testing program for staff and students in an effort to keep virus spread on campus under control.

If this were a normal school year, Denison University senior Matt Nowling and his fellow College Democrats would be "dorm storming" around their campus, near Columbus, Ohio.

"We ran to people's dorms, knocked their doors and got them registered to vote," he said. "Sometimes we got kicked out of dorms," he added.

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Illinois had about 4,000 unfilled school jobs open last fall, and that shortage is expected to be greater this year because of the pandemic. 

The information comes from a survey of school superintendents conducted in 2019. School staff in that count include teachers and paraprofessionals, such as aides,  and administrators. Data for a new survey will be collected in September said Mark Klaisner, the President of the Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents.

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New York City will delay its start of in-person classes at public schools until Sept. 21 as part of a deal with the United Federation of Teachers, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials announced Tuesday.

The union, which represents most of the city's educators, had been on the brink of voting whether to authorize a strike over safety precautions related to the coronavirus. The new agreement is aimed at addressing health concerns for educators and their students.

At Dwight D. Eisenhower Charter School in Algiers, a low-slung brick building across the river from downtown New Orleans, school leaders greet students as they make their way into the building. All are masked.

In the cafeteria, a movable wall cuts the space in half, separating the students into socially distanced groups of nine. Strips of tape mark separate pathways for students and staff. Big pumps of hand sanitizer sit on each desk, and everyone, teachers and students, is wearing a mask.

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We travel next to England, where millions of students try to return to classrooms this week, months after the pandemic shut schools down. Shifting messages from the British government has left many confused. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.

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President Trump is traveling to Kenosha, Wis., today, ignoring the governor's letter asking him not to come.

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