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

This fall, there were nearly 250,000 fewer students enrolled in college than a year ago, according to new numbers out Monday from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks college enrollment by student.

"That's a lot of students that we're losing," says Doug Shapiro, who leads the research center at the Clearinghouse.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos endured a withering barrage of questions on Thursday about her handling of a program meant to provide debt relief to federal student loan borrowers who say they were defrauded by for-profit colleges.

"Madame Secretary, your refusal to process claims is inflicting serious harm on students," Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said in his opening statement. "These defrauded borrowers have been left with piles of debt, worthless degrees and none of the jobs that were promised."

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that will make Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act apply to anti-Semitic acts. The order is generating concern that it will stifle free speech by those who oppose Israel's policy toward the Palestinians.

The executive order takes indirect aim at the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that has generated intense controversy on college campuses.

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

The House Judiciary Committee will move forward on impeachment today.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Documents obtained by NPR shed new light on a bitter fight between defrauded student borrowers and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

These borrowers — more than 200,000 of them — say some for-profit colleges lied to them about their job prospects and the transferability of credits. They argue they were defrauded and that the Education Department should erase their federal student loan debt under a rule called "borrower defense."

A bill introduced in the House Tuesday aims to block Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos from implementing changes she's seeking in Title IX rules.

What makes a great pop song? Is it the way it makes you want to dance? Or maybe how it gets stuck in your head?

At the end of 2019, with genre-bending hits like Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” and Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” what do we even consider pop to be today?

There’s a lot more to pop music than initially meets the ear — and few are more equipped to know that than the hosts of “Switched on Pop.”

The University of Phoenix is paying a record $191 million to settle a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission accusing the for-profit university of using deceptive ads to lure students with the promise of future job opportunities with large companies such as AT&T, Adobe, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The settlement includes a plan to cancel $141 million in student debts that are owed to the school by people who enrolled from October 2012 through the end of 2016 – the period in which the FTC says prospective students might have been duped.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Quote, "This is not a happy day." That is what reporters heard from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel last night as he signaled plans by fellow Democrats to unveil articles of impeachment against President Trump.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Fatima Martinez knows there's a lot riding on her SAT score.

"My future is at stake," says the Los Angeles high school senior. "The score I will receive will determine which UC schools I get into."

But that may not always be the case.

Mike Calhoun is a man on a mission. He's flying around the country, warning state lawmakers and prosecutors, sounding the alarm at conferences and with members of Congress.

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali American population in the U.S.

It’s a community that’s been in the headlines often, but if its members had a direct line to the nation, what would they say?

The divide among Democrats over "Medicare for All" has dominated the policy conversation in the 2020 Democratic primary. But another rift has opened among Democrats, this one about college affordability. The question: Who should get to go to college for free?

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg jabbed at his more liberal opponents in a new ad airing in Iowa. It doesn't name other candidates, but it's clear he's taking aim at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who have pitched plans making free public college available to all.

Updated Friday at 11:04 a.m. ET.

Lawmakers have called for an investigation into a troubled student loan discharge program one day after an NPR report revealed that the program — meant to erase the student debts of borrowers with significant, permanent disabilities — wasn't helping the vast majority of those who are eligible.

Earlier this year, an NPR investigation with WAMU and Oregon Public Broadcasting found deep problems in how school districts report restraint and seclusion. Following that investigation, NPR reached out to educators about their experiences with these practices.

Brent McGinn spent a year early in his career working with students who could sometimes hurt themselves.

Illinois State Board of Education

The Illinois State Board of Education today amended emergency rules that had banned the use of certain physical restraints in schools. Those rules had been enacted two weeks ago in response to an investigation published by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica documenting thousands of incidents where children with special needs were put into seclusion rooms at school.

 

The board had reacted to that report by banning not only seclusion rooms, but also the use of prone and supine physical restraints, which can make it difficult for children to breathe or communicate normally. 

 

Kevin Rubenstein, president of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, says those new rules had ripple effects.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The impeachment inquiry will be in new hands today.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Denise had no idea her student loans could be erased. In 2007, a truck rear-ended her car. The accident ravaged her legs and back, and the pain made it impossible for her to work.

"I have basically been in pain — chronic pain — every day," says Denise, who asked that NPR not use her full name to protect her privacy. "I live a life of going to doctors constantly."

Graduate students at Harvard University began an indefinite strike Tuesday after a deadline to fulfill contract demands such as pay equity and health insurance were not met by administrators.

Negotiations between the two sides are ongoing, but the union — which represents about 4,400 student workers — said an agreement is not close to being met. Representatives with Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW accused the university of neglecting several issues that students have faced for years.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) created a fake university in Michigan to attracting immigrants whose student visas were obtained illegally.

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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

DON GONYEA, HOST:

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Now by seaplane, fishing boat and kayak to Southeast Alaska. There, NPR's Anya Kamenetz met a young woman who's trying to reinvent higher education. Her aim, to use the wilderness to prepare diverse students for lives of purpose in an ever more fragile world.

For nearly a decade, Diana Ramirez hadn't been able to take a book home from the San Diego Public Library. Her borrowing privileges were suspended, she was told, because of a mere $10 in late fees, an amount that had grown to $30 over the years.

Ramirez, who is now 23 and stays in Tijuana with her mother, attends an alternative education program in San Diego that helps students earn high school diplomas. To her, the debt she owed to the library system was an onerous sum. Even worse, it removed a critical resource from her life.

Three hundred middle and high schoolers filed into their school auditorium recently in the small, southeast Kansas town of Neodesha, uncertain why they'd been called there.

They left cheering and hugging. Some of the older students were teary-eyed.

Porfa please. Pero like. Janguear (to hang out).

These Spanglish phrases are all the results of contact between Spanish and English. In a Texas college classroom, students are learning that Spanglish — a version of Spanish that's influenced by English — is just as valid as any other Spanish dialect.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

One of my best Thanksgiving memories was just last year, sharing a feast of spaghetti omelets in a village in the West African nation of Benin.

In 2017, I began my two-year service as an Education Peace Corps Volunteer. I expected to feel lonesome during the holiday season, longing for the traditions and comforts of home – which for me is now Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

But my fears of holiday loneliness couldn't have been farther from reality.

Pages