Education Desk

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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 version of this story was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.

They are popular. They are controversial. And now, video games have just become an internationally recognized addiction.

On May 25, the World Health Organization officially voted to adopt the latest edition of its International Classification of Diseases, or ICD, to include an entry on "gaming disorder" as a behavioral addiction.

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It was sunny and cold on Feb. 13, 2018, when 18-year-old Jack Sawyer walked out of Dick's Sporting Goods in Rutland, Vt., with a brand-new pump-action shotgun and four boxes of ammunition.

The next day, Valentine's Day, Sawyer took his new gun out for target practice.

Around the same time, about 1,500 miles away in Parkland, Fla., a 19-year-old shot and killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

College is expensive. And juggling classes, work, and all of life's other challenges can be difficult.

NPR's education team is putting together a how-to guide — in podcast form — on navigating college when you're paying yourself. It's for Life Kit from NPR.

So, college students and recent grads: What are your best tips for paying your way through college? What's your best advice for other students trying to make ends meet?

As colleges and universities across the country report an explosion of mental health problems, a new book argues that college life may be more stressful than ever. Dr. Anthony Rostain, co-author of The Stressed Years of Their Lives, notes that today's college students are experiencing an "inordinate amount of anxiety" — much of it centered on "surviving college and doing well."

Michigan State University's board of trustees unanimously voted to name Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. the 21st president of MSU during a special meeting on Tuesday morning. His term begins Aug. 1.

Stanley has been president of Stony Brook University in New York since 2009.

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In Missouri last week, there was a graduation ceremony.

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All the typical things you would expect for the graduation - you know, caps and gowns and a stage and even a brass band - but this ceremony was different.

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A porn director worries that young adults think sex is what they've seen on-screen.

A young man worries that the ubiquity of porn creates unrealistic expectations for everyone.

A porn performer worries that young viewers might think her videos are instructional.

They all wish people talked about it more.

Millions of people in the United States watch pornography, thanks largely in part to the Internet and free sites like Pornhub.

With the economy booming, Ernesto Martinez can barely keep up with all the construction work coming into the small drywall company he owns. He's part of a historic wave of Latino prosperity in America.

It wasn't always like this. Martinez remembers when he was 17. He had $120 to his name, and it was all in his pocket. It's how much he got paid for his first job in the U.S., as a mover. He says he stood there, mesmerized, in front of a shop window at the mall.

Martinez was looking at a pair of Air Jordans. They cost around $100.

The Challenges Facing HBCU Campuses

May 25, 2019

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Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

The Illinois legislature has approved a measure that would allow public school nurses to provide the life-saving medication glucagon to diabetic students in emergency situations.

As we recently reported, Jennifer Jacobs saved a 7th grader who was experiencing a severe hypoglycemic episode by using another student's supply of glucagon — a hormone that triggers the body to release stored glucose.

How Schools Can Support Homeless Teens

May 21, 2019

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Rashema Melson was among the more than 1,750 undergraduates who received diplomas from Georgetown University last weekend.

Before she attended college on a full scholarship, Melson graduated at the top of her class as the valedictorian of Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C.

She was also living with her mother and brothers at D.C. General, a family homeless shelter that shut down last year.

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The surprise announcement started this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS)

A 40-year-old California law requiring public school teachers on extended sick leave to pay for their own substitute teachers is under scrutiny by some state lawmakers after NPR member station KQED reported on the practice.

Courtesy of repmmurphy.com

Pleasant Plains is a small but prosperous town about 15 minutes northwest of Springfield. Its schools are all rated “commendable,” and their test results outshine state averages in every subject.

And yet, in March, the high school principal, Luke Brooks, asked Illinois lawmakers to stop requiring algebra.

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Robert Smith encouraged graduates to "pay it forward" in his commencement speech Sunday at Morehouse College.
TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube

Billionaire investor and

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Academics Gather To Study Phish, Man

May 19, 2019

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And now for a story about an academic conference. But wait, wait. Stay with us because, as Deena Prichep reports, Oregon State University is hosting a meeting that's got more than name tags and networking.

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For nearly two decades, a doctor at The Ohio State University sexually abused at least 177 male students, according to an exhaustive independent investigation commissioned by the university. Most of the doctor's abuse happened under the auspices of providing the students with medical treatment.

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In May 1954, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

The nine justices were unanimous in their ruling, declaring unconstitutional the concept of "separate but equal" facilities for public school students divided by race. The intent was clear: end racial segregation in public schools nationwide.

Brown v. Board, as it's known, actually consisted of five lawsuits consolidated by the high court into one opinion.

It's 5 o'clock in the morning, and Sarah Salazar would rather be sleeping. Not just because it's early. Or because she's a teenager and can't seem to get enough sleep. Doctors say the shotgun pellets embedded in her shoulder, lung and back have sent her lead levels skyrocketing and leave her feeling tired much of the time.

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The College Board has been testing a tool that could give the millions of students who take the SATs every year a score measuring their economic hardships and other disadvantages, the nonprofit said Thursday.

The Environmental Context Dashboard includes information about students' high schools, including the rate of teens who receive free or reduced lunch, and their home life and neighborhoods, such as average family income, educational attainment, housing stability and crime.

Ask Cookie Monster to demonstrate self-control? Sounds like the setup to a joke. The blue, furry monster we grew up with was pure id.

But in recent years, Cookie has evolved as Sesame Workshop has sharpened its focus on social and emotional skills. Research shows that at least half a child's success is determined by those skills. Life Kit: Parenting has been looking at strategies for helping kids learn emotional self-regulation and self-control, so we called in Cookie for help.

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