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

Chicago Teachers Go On Strike

Oct 17, 2019

Copyright 2019 WBEZ Chicago. To see more, visit WBEZ Chicago.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Teachers are on strike in Chicago today. The teachers union voted unanimously for that move in the nation's fourth-largest school district. And Sarah Karp of our member station WBEZ is covering this story. Good morning.

For the second time in seven years, Chicago Public Schools teachers will be on strike starting Thursday, walking out of class, they say, in the name of better schools.

Gathered on the stage of the union hall on Wednesday, the Chicago Teachers Union said its delegates were in full support of moving forward with a strike. Delegates had already authorized the walkout and set a date so it would have taken a reversal to cancel the strike.

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

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says classes in the city's public schools will be canceled Thursday for 299,000 children, in anticipation of an expected teacher strike.

The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools have been locked in a months-long contract dispute over higher pay, caps on class size and other issues. The union's delegates plan to meet Wednesday evening to vote on whether to move forward with the strike.

Rachel Otwell

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign committee released on Tuesday its recommended changes to how the university handles claims of sexual misconduct against faculty.

Starting early last year, the nation's most powerful consumer protection agency sent examiners into companies that run student loan call centers to try to fix a troubled loan forgiveness program. But the Department of Education blocked the bureau from getting the information it needed, NPR has learned.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is designed to help firefighters, military service members, nonprofit workers and others. But thousands of people say they were treated unfairly and rejected.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have news now about a student loan forgiveness program that is troubled. NPR has learned the Trump administration blocked a consumer protection agency from trying to fix it. The program is meant to help public service workers and those who work for nonprofits, but thousands say they were unfairly rejected. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Wendy Feliciano works for the police department in New York City.

WENDY FELICIANO: I am a sergeant in the NYPD, and I work in the Bronx - in the Bronx borough.

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Women Look To Close Inventor Gender Gap

Oct 13, 2019

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Even though about half of all Ph.D.s in the United States are awarded to women, only 12% of patent inventors are female. That's according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Patent Office, and Mercedes Meyer thinks she knows why that is.

MERCEDES MEYER: We are being categorized at a young age, and we are being domesticated into a mindset of girls don't do that. Girls don't invent.

Golden Apple

In Illinois, students of color comprise more than half of the school population, but their teachers are overwhelmingly white. And even when schools recruit and hire teachers of color, those educators tend to leave the profession much faster than their white colleagues. A recent report took a look at what schools can do to encourage Black and Latinx teachers to stay.

Rural America has never been only one place, one type of person or one type of job.

And new data points to the growing complexity and diversity of those parts of the country.

Author and podcast host Sarah Smarsh wrote in The New York Times recently about so-called “brain gain” instead of “brain drain.”

Schools across the country are so fed up with students vaping on campus that they're suing the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs.

Multiple districts filed lawsuits on Monday, including school systems in Olathe, Kan.; St. Charles, Mo.; Long Island, N.Y.; and La Conner, Wash. Three of those suits charge that Juul has hooked a generation of young smokers with its sweet flavors, placing a burden on schools.

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

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Keith Allison / - https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/2334872072/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17653644

Last week, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing college athletes to get endorsement deals, he set off a wave of copycat legislation proposed in at least a dozen more states, including Illinois. 

State Representative Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside) filed a bill here to make sure Illinois keeps up. 

"If I'm a coach in California right now, this is an amazing recruiting tool, and I think it places them at an advantage in the recruiting arena. And so I'd like to make sure colleges and universities in Illinois have the same tool that California universities do,” Welch says.

A majority of parents rarely, if ever, discuss race/ethnicity, gender, class or other categories of social identity with their kids, according to a new, nationally representative survey of more than 6,000 parents conducted by Sesame Workshop and NORC at the University of Chicago.

Grace HeeJung Kim for NPR

Kate Szumanski still remembers the note her professor wrote at the top of an essay in h

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

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In the struggle to end global warming, one community in central Pennsylvania is having remarkable success. It's growing, with tens of thousands of people, yet its greenhouse emissions have been dropping dramatically.

Perhaps most amazing: Those reductions have paid for themselves.

This is not your typical town — it's Penn State University. But in many ways, it's just like any other town or small city.

Copyright 2019 WGBH Radio. To see more, visit WGBH Radio.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Springfield District 186 school teachers have been working without a contract since mid-August. And despite hours of bargaining, they haven't come to any agreement with the school board. 

Joey Gobble, who teaches history at Lanphier High School, said sure, they're asking for better salaries. But they're also asking for smaller class sizes, more alternative education classes, plus more social workers and psychologists, and more help for students.

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

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

House Democrats have been suggesting that their impeachment investigation could take just a matter of weeks, not months. But the White House is drawing battle lines as tensions between the executive and legislative branches are really increasing.

Copyright 2019 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

A judge has ruled in favor of Harvard University in a high-profile court case centered on whether the school's admissions process forces Asian Americans to clear a higher bar to get in.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

About a dozen children with complex medical needs have been kicked out of school over a funding dispute. The children reside at Children's Habilitation Center — a long-term care facility for children with complex medical needs, located in Harvey, Illinois.

On Friday, CHC filed a lawsuit against the West Harvey-Dixmoor Public School District 147, the Illinois State Board of Education, and several other school districts.

Updated at 12:17 p.m. ET

In a move that puts California on a collision course with the NCAA, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill effectively allowing college athletes in the state to earn compensation for the use of their likeness, sign endorsement deals and hire agents to represent them.

The governor signed the measure in a segment released Monday by Uninterrupted, a sports programming company co-founded by LeBron James.

Teaching Impeachment In The Classroom

Sep 29, 2019

Copyright 2020 MPR News. To see more, visit MPR News.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Impeachment is a huge political story and a great teaching opportunity. Minnesota Public Radio's Elizabeth Shockman reports from one middle school that's using current events in the classroom.

When a student at Georgia Gwinnett College couldn't find a replacement babysitter in time for her anatomy and physiology class earlier this month, she did what student-parents sometimes have to do – she brought her child to class with her.

Ramata Sissoko Cisse, an assistant professor of biology for anatomy and physiology, had scheduled an important lecture for that day. It focused on the integumentary system — the organ system comprised of the skin, hair, nails and glands. For Cisse, the lecture went beyond biology.

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

Sep 27, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that the House would open a formal impeachment inquiry into whether President Trump lobbied a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election. The whistleblower complaint that initially brought the issue to light was released to the public in redacted form.

The Chicago Teachers Union voted in overwhelming numbers to authorize a strike, union officials announced late Thursday. The union is planning to set a strike date next Wednesday. Teachers likely will walk out in mid-October if no deal is reached by then.

CTU leaders said 94% of members had voted in favor of a strike, surpassing the 75% threshold required by law. Some 90% of the ballots had been counted Thursday night.

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