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

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Sound And Silence

What can we discover when we allow ourselves to sit in silence and just... listen? Sound designer Dallas Taylor explores how tuning into silence is key for understanding the beauty of the sonic world.

About Dallas Taylor

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Sound And Silence

As a deaf person, Rebecca Knill is anti-noise and "neutral" on sound. She explains how technology allows her to hear what she wants to hear, and asks why our mindset about ability hasn't caught up.

About Rebecca Knill

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Sound And Silence

Over 30 million people in the U.S. have hearing loss. Neuroscientist Jim Hudspeth explains how the ear's thousands of hair cells function to amplify sound—and how they can be damaged but not repaired.

About Jim Hudspeth

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Sound And Silence

For years, NPR host Mary Louise Kelly found ways to do her job and manage hearing loss. But now she can no longer rely on reading lips or leaning-in. She describes how she's adapting all over again.

About Mary Louise Kelly

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Schools aren't virus superspreaders - that was the conclusion of a recent study out of Brown University. Economist Emily Oster led that research, and I asked her to explain the data that makes her so sure.

Guidelines to remember

  • The contest is open to students at 2-year or 4-year colleges in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Podcasts must be between three and 8 minutes long.
  • Entries must be created specifically for the Contest.
  • The NPR Student Podcast Challenge, which has drawn more than 35,000 students around the country into the world of audio storytelling, is back for its third year, with a big new addition: We're kicking it up a notch to include college students.

    We're inviting college students around the country to create a podcast — about anything you want! — and compete for a chance to have your work appear on NPR.

    Be a part of the NPR Student Podcast Challenge: College Edition

    These are the rules for the NPR Student Podcast Challenge: College Edition, if you're looking for the 5th-12th grade competition rules click here.


    Administrators at Brigham Young University's campus in southeastern Idaho say they are "deeply troubled" by reports that students may have intentionally tried to contract COVID-19, lured by blood donation centers that are paying a premium for plasma with COVID-19 antibodies.

    "Students who are determined to have intentionally exposed themselves or others to the virus will be immediately suspended from the university and may be permanently dismissed," the university said in a statement issued Monday.

    One of the nation's most prestigious universities has agreed to pay nearly $1 million in back pay to female professors following allegations of pay discrimination.

    The Ivy League university will pay $925,000 in back pay and at least $250,000 in future wages, as part of an agreement announced by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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    Like millions of other Americans, Mitch Couch recently transformed his house into a school without a lot of advance notice.

    MITCH COUCH: So I thought, OK, I'm going to build them some desks.

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    The Senate Judiciary Committee returns this morning for day two of Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.


    Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


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    Kelly Mrozik wears a cloth face mask as she asks her room of energetic first graders a question: What sign do you use when you want to add two numbers together?

    Wayne, a student who sat on the carpet in front of her, points to a plus sign on the board.

    Mrozik cheers: "Very good. Elbows, Wayne!"

    The two bumped elbows. That's the school-during-the-coronavirus version of a high five. There are other versions, too.

    "Sometimes we even do like a shoe bump, or we do a toe tap, or a happy dance," Mrozik says.

    Life is hard for everyone during a pandemic. But in a global crisis, it is women who carry extra burdens, says Raquel Lagunas, director of the gender team at the United Nations Development Programme. "Because of their reproductive role in society, they are ones taking care of the kids, the house, the food, the survival of families."

    Orange County, Fla., has 8,000 missing students. The Miami-Dade County public schools have 16,000 fewer than last year. Los Angeles Unified — the nation's second-largest school system — is down nearly 11,000. Charlotte-Mecklenburg in North Carolina has 5,000 missing. Utah, Virginia and Washington are reporting declines statewide.

    The closure of school buildings in response to the coronavirus has been disruptive and inconvenient for many families, but for those living in homeless shelters or hotel rooms — including roughly 1.5 million school-aged children — the shuttering of classrooms and cafeterias has been disastrous.

    Of the colleges and universities that have chosen to hold classes in person this fall, most are not conducting widespread testing of their students for the coronavirus, an NPR analysis has found. With only weeks remaining before many of those schools plan to send students home for the end of the semester, the findings raise concerns that communities around the U.S. could be exposed to new outbreaks.

    Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


    A tally by Johns Hopkins University says 210,000 Americans have died of coronavirus. But yesterday, one very high-profile patient returned home.


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    Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


    Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode School of Life

    When Ash Beckham was misgendered in front of her niece, she wasn't sure how to respond. Her eventual choice taught her a lesson about handling uncomfortable moments — and finding a middle ground.

    About Ash Beckham

    Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode School of Life

    Even though kids learn to read in school, many hate it. Educator Alvin Irby shares insights on inspiring children—especially Black boys—to discover books they enjoy and begin identifying as readers.

    About Alvin Irby

    Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode School of Life

    When Tracy Edwards was expelled from school, she wound up working on boats. That led her to form a record-breaking all-female sailing crew, which circumnavigated the world in 1989.

    About Tracy Edwards

    Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode School of Life

    Stacey Abrams' journey in politics has taught her a lot about life. Her greatest lessons, she says, have come from the setbacks she has experienced along the way.

    About Stacey Abrams

    Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


    New York City, with its 1.1 million students, became the first big city school district in the country to return to in-person classes this week. After the start of the school year was delayed twice, students came back in phases: pre-K and students with significant disabilities last week, followed by elementary students Tuesday, and middle and high school students today. Just over half of the city's students will be attending school on a hybrid schedule, attending one or two days a week in person, in order to preserve social distancing. The remainder are 100% remote.

    Joseph Castro is going to start his new job as the chancellor of California State University at a tumultuous time.