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

Sarah Edwards/Illinois Public Media

Perry Cline’s story is a remarkable one. He’s a formerly incarcerated 51-year-old man who overcame the odds to graduate from the University of Illinois last month.

 

This is a follow-up to last week’s story about Cline and what it took for him to achieve his academic goals.

 

We felt it important to give Cline the space and a platform to tell that story himself — both in video and through a longer audio story.

The teachers union in Denver has voted to approve a strike that could begin as soon as Jan. 28. It would be the first time the city has seen a teacher strike in almost 25 years.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association finished voting late Tuesday after more than a year of negotiations between the union and the district, which have failed to yield an agreement.

Luigi Disisto is a 47-year-old man who has autism and lives at a private special education center based in suburban Boston best known for being the only school in the country that shocks its students with disabilities to control their behavior.

Disisto wears a backpack equipped with a battery and wires that are attached to his body to deliver a two-second shock if he misbehaves.

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Big news here around LA. Students attending school in Los Angeles today will find something different - teachers in the classrooms.

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Reanna Robinson's life this spring is pretty hectic. She works full-time as a TSA officer at Reagan National Airport, she's raising her 1-year-old daughter, and she's taking five college classes on her way to a degree in criminal justice.

On top of all that, she's dealing with more financial pressure than usual. That's because, as an essential worker during a government shutdown that has stretched to 31 days, she's still reporting for work but not getting a paycheck.

"It's very stressful," she says. "It kind of takes a mental toll on you."

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Today - a tentative deal in Los Angeles where teachers began a strike more than a week ago. Mayor Eric Garcetti called today's deal a historic agreement.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated 9:38 a.m. ET Thursday

Union members in Los Angeles voted to approve a deal with the city's school district on Tuesday, ending a six-day teacher strike. Teachers headed back to class on Wednesday.

According to a Wednesday news release, 81 percent of United Teachers Los Angeles members who cast a ballot voted in favor of the agreement.

"I couldn't be prouder to be a teacher tonight," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl at a Tuesday news conference in which he announced the preliminary results.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

Looking back at week one of the LA teacher strike

The school district and union leaders returned to the negotiation table on Thursday, and with talks scheduled throughout the weekend, some are trying to see an end to this week-long teacher strike.

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Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Approaching With Kindness.

About Laura Trice's TED Talk

What would happen if we actually asked others to praise and appreciate us for the work we do? Laura Trice examines the importance of building our sense of self-worth by asking for what we need.

About Laura Trice

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Approaching With Kindness.

About Mike Robbins' TED Talk

After a career-ending baseball injury, Mike Robbins had to learn how to appreciate his time on the mound. He's found that making the effort to appreciate others has a real impact on their well-being.

About Mike Robbins

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Approaching with Kindness.

About AJ Jacobs' TED Talk

How many people helped make your morning coffee? AJ Jacobs set out to thank them all, from the farmer to the barista and everyone in between — and discovered the list was much longer than he thought.

About AJ Jacobs

Los Angeles science teacher Michele Levin knows she caught a break: She only has about 33 students in each of her classes at Daniel Webster Middle School — pretty small, by district standards. In most LA Unified School District middle schools, the largest core classes have 37 kids — with other classes sometimes as large as 46.

Sarah Edwards

Like many people coming out of prison, Perry Cline never thought he’d get a college degree.

 

“I thought I was just going to be another bum in the streets,” he said. “So I thank God that he got something else for me. And this is just the beginning.”

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

When Illinois approved a new school funding formula in 2017, it didn't make funding equitable across all districts overnight. But it has opened the eyes of the State Board of Education.

The new formula, called "evidence based funding," is calculated by weighing each district's financial needs against the economic resources of the surrounding community. This comparison revealed that some districts have less than half the resources they need, while other districts have three times what they need.

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In Los Angeles, the rain keeps falling and teachers keep marching.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) U-T.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) L-A.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) U-T.

Updated Thursday, Jan. 17, at 8:07 a.m. ET.

Students in Los Angeles have a new routine this week: When they arrive at schools in the morning, they're greeted by teachers — in picket lines.

Teachers began a strike on Monday after their union and the district failed to negotiate a new contract. Schools are open during the strikes, staffed by administrators, volunteers and newly hired substitutes. Still, the school day is anything but typical.

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More than 30,000 teachers in Los Angeles are on strike.

The union is asking the Los Angeles Unified School District for better wages, more support staff like nurses and counselors, and smaller class sizes. The district is the second-largest in the country. And Vox reports that having about 500,000 students without teachers will be extremely disruptive for Los Angeles.

The overuse of technology has overtaken drugs, sex and bullying as the biggest parental worry, according to the annual Brigham Young and Deseret News American Family Survey.

But what are we actually supposed to be doing about it?

Jordan Shapiro, a Temple University professor whose background is in philosophy and psychology, has a prescription that might surprise you. In his new book, The New Childhood, his argument is that we're not spending enough screen time with our kids.

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As parents across Los Angeles dropped their kids off at school Monday morning, they were greeted by picket lines of teachers, many dressed in red ponchos and holding red umbrellas.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, educators in LA are on strike.

"Teachers want what students need," a crowd outside Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Boyle Heights chanted in the pouring rain.

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

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) UTLA, UTLA.

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So there is new reporting suggesting that the FBI was concerned about President Trump's possible ties to Russia going back to early 2016.

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At 10 o'clock in the morning, Austin Lanham should be working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center routing satellite communication.

But with the partial federal government shutdown, he's not working, deadlines are slipping, he's not getting paid and the preschool his two sons go to is shut down because it's on NASA's property. "Now I'm just a full-time stay at home dad," he says.

Updated Monday at 10:16 a.m.ET.

Los Angeles public school teachers went on strike Monday morning, a result of failed negotiations between the teachers union and the school district.

The strike has looked inevitable since Friday, when United Teachers Los Angeles rejected another offer from district leaders.

"We are more convinced than ever that the district won't move without a strike," declared union President Alex Caputo-Pearl at a Sunday press conference.

Teachers in Los Angeles are set to strike tomorrow after the teachers' union and the district failed to negotiate a new contract. The strike would impact about half a million students in the nation's second-largest school district. It would be the city's first teachers' strike in nearly 30 years.

The field of economics has a problem. At a time when more women than men are graduating from college and earning doctorates, just a third of Ph.D.s in economics go to women. That statistic has hardly budged in decades.

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