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

In a speech praising educators, President-elect Joe Biden announced Miguel Cardona was a "real easy" choice to be the next secretary of education.

On Wednesday, Biden reiterated his focus on getting schools open amid the pandemic and touted Cardona's experience this fall balancing online and in-person learning in Connecticut, and getting students connected and outfitted with a device for learning. "That's the vision, resolve and initiative, that's all gonna help us contain this pandemic and reopen our schools safely," Biden said.

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Updated at 7:43 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Miguel Cardona, the head of Connecticut's public schools, to be his secretary of education.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Biden called Cardona a "lifelong champion of public education."

Cardona makes true on an early Biden promise to pick an education secretary who was a teacher: "A teacher. Promise," Biden told the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, back in July 2019.

Updated at 9:33 p.m., Dec. 28, 2020

Seventy-three suspected cheaters, one critical mistake.

Dozens of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were caught cheating on a calculus final exam in May after they all made the same errors on the test, according to officials.

At a time when the pandemic has exposed a growing shortage of nurses, it should have been good news that there were more than 1,200 applicants to enter the associate degree program in nursing at Long Beach City College.

But the California community college took only 32 of them.

North of here, California State University, East Bay isn't enrolling any nursing students at all until at least next fall.

Higher education was struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for nurses even before the COVID-19 crisis. Now it's falling further behind.

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U.S. lawmakers have announced an agreement on a handful of higher education measures that would provide meaningful help to marginalized students, students of color and many of the schools that serve them. The aid is part of a broad new set of legislation, meant to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2021. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the proposed changes this week.

Stanford Medicine apologized on Friday for its vaccine distribution plan – a plan that came under fire for leaving out nearly all of its medical residents and fellows, many whom regularly treat COVID-19 patients.

The residents waged a protest on Friday morning, holding signs and demanding answers from Stanford's leadership about why just seven of more than 1,300 residents at Stanford were selected to receive the vaccine in the first round of 5,000 doses.

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All throughout high school, Brian Williams planned to go to college. But as the pandemic eroded the final moments of his senior year, the Stafford, Texas, student began to second-guess that plan.

"I'm terrible at online school," Williams says. He was barely interested in logging on for his final weeks of high school; being online for his first semester at Houston Community College felt unbearable.

"I know what works best for me, and doing stuff on the computer doesn't really stimulate me in the same way an actual class would."

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A house. Two cars. A kid in college. Debi and Nick Lemieur had all the markers of a middle class life. But they both remember one purchase — Nick's $600 bass amplifier — that prompted one of the biggest fights in their four decades of marriage.

"He didn't tell me he hid it in the trunk of the car, and I found it," Debi says, laughing, 14 years later. "To me it was like, oh my God, how much will this screw with our budget?"

Updated at 8:25 a.m. ET Monday

An opinion column in The Wall Street Journal came under fire over the weekend for asking educator and incoming first lady Jill Biden — who holds two master's degrees and a doctorate in education — to stop using the title "Dr."

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Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode A Century Of Money.

At age 55, Elizabeth White lost her job--and her entire safety net--in the 2008 recession. Her story isn't uncommon. White says, now more older adults are pushed out of their jobs and into poverty.

About Elizabeth White

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Historians for Johns Hopkins University discovered that the founder of the Baltimore-based school owned slaves, contrary to the long-held belief that the wealthy philanthropist was a staunch abolitionist.

Researchers Martha S. Jones and Allison Seyler made the discovery after delving into previously undiscovered government census records as part of a university-led project on the school's history.

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Is there a link between studying music and being better at math and reading? Scientists have been studying and debating this for a long time, and a new study has some really interesting findings.

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Santiago Potes is one of the hundreds of thousands of DACA-recipients currently living in the U.S. His parents fled Colombia when he was four years old, traveling with Potes to Miami.

Now, Potes, 23, is a graduate of Columbia University and also the first Latino DACA recipient to be awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

"I just couldn't believe it," he tells NPR's Morning Edition. "I just thought that they were going to call me, and say 'Oh, we made a mistake. Sorry about that, we actually didn't choose you.' "

Jayme Henderson says her college's decision to cancel fall graduation over coronavirus concerns felt like "a slap in the face."

Henderson, a graduating senior at the University of Missouri in Columbia, remembers thinking about the campus activities that hadn't been cancelled: Football was still on, with fans still able to attend games in-person, and there were even some in-person classes. To make matters worse, the email cancelling fall commencement arrived the same day as another email detailing parking restrictions for big game day crowds.

UIS

The interim chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield will stay in that role for a longer period.   

The university announced Monday that Karen Whitney will have her contract extended until June 2022. 

The Virginia Military Institute removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson on Monday morning. A small group watched as the bronze figure was hoisted off its pedestal in front of the VMI barracks.

The historic figure is being relocated from the campus in Lexington, Va., to its future home at the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.

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Medical schools report applications are way up this year, and there are a few thoughts about why - the pandemic, of course, the economy and what some are calling the Fauci effect. Kirk Carapezza from member station GBH (ph) in Boston has this report.

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Colleges and universities are wrapping up a fall semester unlike any other. The pandemic left campuses around the country scrambling to figure out how to effectively teach while keeping everyone safe. So we asked five students how it went.

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