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

The University of Georgia marching band has bade farewell to Gone with the Wind.

The Redcoat Band's acting director, Brett Bawcum, told members that going forward, their repertoire will no longer include "Tara's Theme" from the controversial 1939 film.

"Though the tradition has been under discussion for months within the band, the current social climate has highlighted the urgency of addressing it and made me conscious of the message that could be interpreted by delay," Bawcum said in a letter dated Wednesday.

Carter Staley/NPR illinois

A list of health and safety guidelines for getting students back in classrooms is scheduled to be released before the end of the month. It will provide rules and recommendations for more than 850 school districts resuming classes this fall.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to lift its 16-year moratorium on the renaming of campus buildings.

"Many people have realized it's important to move forward with some of these issues. And that's what we intend to do on this campus," said Board of Trustees Chair Richard Stevens, as NPR member station WUNC reports. "It's a moment of leadership. It's time to do it."

Illinois Newsroom

  URBANA – Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a saliva-based  COVID-19 test. 

During a webinar hosted Tuesday by U of I Chancellor Robert Jones and other university staff, Martin Burke, a U of I chemistry professor, announced that they had the capacity to test up to 10,000 people per day. 

First, the end:

"Please be kind to one another. That's all for today."

So closes the middle-school top-prize winner of NPR's Student Podcast Challenge. World, meet The Dragon Kids.

There is no one answer for what the coming school year will look like, but it won't resemble the fall of 2019. Wherever classrooms are open, there will likely be some form of social distancing and other hygiene measures in place that challenge traditional teaching and learning. Future outbreaks will make for unpredictable waves of closures. Virtual learning will continue.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

The club was supposed to meet once a week. But for many of the members of Men in Color, Wednesday afternoons turned into Monday afternoons and Thursdays too.

"After school, we were always in Mr. C's room," says Jaheim Birch-Gentles, a recent graduate of the High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn. He's referring to one of the club's advisors, Mischaël Cetoute. The club served as a safe space for students to talk through issues and ideas.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Milo Greer's postcard had us emoji-face crying, too.
Courtesy of Melissa Greer

A few weeks ago,

Lainy Morse is an essential worker who has been out of work since the middle of March.

She teaches preschool and ordinarily provides a vital service for working parents.

"Without us, moms [mostly] can't go back to work," Morse says.

Kennett High School seniors and their families traveled up a ski mountain in North Conway, N.H., to receive their diplomas.

"Out of all the different types of graduations different high schools are having, I think this is the coolest," says senior Eva Drummond. "It's the Mount Washington Valley and we're known because we have our mountains and our ski areas."

Drummond grew up skiing Cranmore Mountain, but she never expected to go up it in her graduation gown and sneakers.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Among the many losses this school year was the chance for students to shine on stage in the classic end-of-the-year theater production. Yet teachers and students across the country turned misfortune into opportunity, creating memorable plays and performances that will live on — online.

For many student performers, there was that one week, back in March, where everything shifted. One moment everyone was at school, going to class and hanging out with friends ... and then suddenly they were at home, social-distancing and trying to figure out online learning.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We've been hearing high school graduation messages this week from frontline workers. Today, a graduating senior who works as a grocery store cashier in Atlanta.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., have sparked a national conversation around racial justice.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are going back on the campaign trail.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Safely reopening the nation's public schools will be an expensive and Herculean task without additional help from the federal government. And, until schools do reopen, the nation's most vulnerable children will continue to be hardest hit — losing consistent access to meals, valuable learning time, and vital social-emotional support. Those were just some of the takeaways Wednesday from a hearing of the U.S. Senate's education committee.

Emma Cockrum was in her second week of quarantine when her father discovered an old bike behind their house.

And that bicycle turned out to be a gift: With school closed at East Ascension High School in Gonzales, La., bike riding for Emma became a way of coping with the loss of the rest of her senior year.

Eastern Illinois University

Colleges around the state are working on their plans to host classes on campus this fall. A few outlined their plans while discussing them with the Illinois Board of Higher Education Tuesday.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

High school graduations are continuing across the country. And this week, we are presenting graduation messages from front-line workers.

ASHLEY ROBINSON: Dear class of 2020, my name is Ashley Robinson (ph), and I have been a nurse for nine years.

elinerijpers / via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Illinois schools are now able to welcome students back for some types of in-person learning during the summer. The State Board of Education has issued guidance to districts to offer several programs.

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A longtime higher education leader will be the interim chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Karen Whitney will take over for Susan Koch, who is retiring at the end of the month.   Whitney will serve in the interim role while a national search is conducted for a permanent chancellor.

Sixth-graders who used the power of two languages — Mandarin and English — to express how Asian students in their city suffered during the early days of the coronavirus.

And high school seniors who looked at inequality — and the activism that seeks to change it — to demand they be heard in the fight against climate change.

Meet the grand prize winners of the 2020 NPR Student Podcast Challenge!

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

When Luc Jasmin III took over Parkview Early Learning Center six years ago, he wanted to create a safe space where young children could not only be cared for but also get an educational foundation to prepare them for a lifetime of learning.

During normal times, the center in Spokane, Wash., serves about 100 children who range in age from 4 weeks old to 13 years. The center didn't close down during the coronavirus pandemic, except for a couple of days to retrain staff on social distancing and cleaning guidelines.

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