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Education Desk
The Education Desk is our education blog focusing on key areas of news coverage important to the state and its improvement. Evidence of public policy performance and impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of education from pre-natal to Higher Ed.Dusty Rhodes curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.About - Additional Education Coverage00000179-2419-d250-a579-e41d385d0000

Legislation Aims To Change School Culture

Students at statehouse.
Joanna Klonsky
Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, pose with Rep. Will Davis (center) shortly after the Illinois House of Representatives voted in favor of their bill banning certain types of school discipline.

A measure that would limit the way schools hand out discipline has made its way through the Illinois legislature and is awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner's signature.

The plan, pushed for more than a year by a Chicago youth organization called VOYCE, would change the way schools handle discipline. Zero-tolerance policies and disciplinary fines would be banned. Suspensions and expulsions could be used only as a last resort.

Sarah Johnson, one of the youth leaders of the group, said the plan is designed to change the culture of schools.

“Our education system should be wanting us to stay in school and right now they’re pushing us out of school,” she said. "So the environment that we’re in, that our young people are in right now, is not an environment of learning. It’s an environment of push-out.”


Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, spoke in support of the measure.

“This is a best practices mandate, if you will," Sandack said. "It’s a requirement that the state tells the schools to go through a process before making the ultimate decision on rather extreme punishment for children.” 

The measure applies to neighborhood schools and charter schools. It passed both legislative chambers with bi-partisan support. 

If signed into law, it would take effect in September 2016.

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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