Derek Cantù

Statehouse Reporting Intern

Derek Cantù is NPR Illinois' graduate student Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2021 legislative session. 

 

Derek earned a B.S. in History and Secondary Education from Bradley University and an M.S. in Curriculum & Instruction from Kansas State University.

 

Derek has previous experience working as a James H. Dunn fellow (education policy analyst), a high school social studies teacher, and a Fulbright fellow in the Slovak Republic. 

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Some Democratic Illinois lawmakers want to adopt more comprehensive sex education standards for K-12 schools to ensure students have a firm understanding of the importance of consent, the consequences of sharing underage sexually explicit material, and knowing when an action is considered sexual abuse.

npr illinois

Illinois has long held the record for the most units of local government in any state — 8,923 local taxing bodies to be exact, according to a recent report by the Chicago-based Civic Federation.

BlueRoomStream

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced $11 million in new infrastructure funding aimed at spurring economic development in underserved areas.

allareacodes.com

Illinois residents who live in the 217 area code now need to dial a full 10-digit number when making local calls. The area code encompasses Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, and Quincy, and other parts of Central Illinois.

The change in dialing requirements corresponds with a new 447 area code being overlaid in the region on March 27.

BlueRoomStream

In a visit to Springfield Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker announced forthcoming state aid for local governments struggling with rising natural gas prices and help for students and families struggling with food insecurity.

Illinois Housing Development Authority

Illinois housing officials are touting the success of their programs helping families hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, the Illinois Housing Development Authority reported that in 2020 it dispersed around $325 million in rent and mortgage assistance grants to more than 56,000 households.

School desks
Flickr user: dcJohn www.flickr.com/photos/dcjohn/

For the second year in a row, the Illinois State Board of Education is seeking a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for standardized tests normally given during schools’ spring semester.

ACLU of Illinois

Decades of tough-on-crime policies have begun to give way in recent years to conversations about alternatives to incarceration.

State lawmakers on Tuesday heard from advocates who say interventions that get at the roots of crime, like mental health and poverty, can be more effective at reducing crime.

Capitol in fog
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

Ahead of Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget address next week, Republican lawmakers are calling on his administration to preserve tax credits for businesses — especially ones Pritzker himself helped negotiate during his first year in office. 

Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

Democratic lawmakers are again re-introducing the so-called Clean Energy Jobs Act, renewing the effort for comprehensive legislation to address both climate change and expanding Illinois’ renewable energy industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying recession have revealed disparities in health and financial stability everywhere in Illinois, and seniors citizens are no exception.

WGEM

Faculty, staff and other advocates for Illinois colleges and universities are asking Gov. JB Pritzker to allow higher education employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines during the state’s current phase of vaccine rollout.

Illinois has been in Phase 1b of its vaccination campaign for nearly two weeks, but the frontline essential workers currently eligible for COVID vaccines only include teachers and staff at pre-K through 12 schools.

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flickr/ Mortimer62

Republican state lawmakers — who are in the super-minority in the state legislature —introduced a package of election-focused bills aimed at making it easier for citizens to be involved in revising the state’s constitution, repealing legislation, and removing public officials from office.

Justin Fowler/State Journal-Register via AP

Some members of the Illinois State Board of Education are voicing concerns that the state will soon adopt high school graduation requirements too burdensome for schools to enforce.

ISBE members made their comments during an ISBE board meeting Wednesday, one week after the General Assembly passed an omnibus education bill pushed for by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, which included the new requirements.

Photo via Pixabay

Certain regions in Illinois will be allowed to transition to less restrictive COVID-19 measures beginning Friday. But that doesn’t mean restaurants and bars will be allowed to resume indoor service, despite another public call for reopening from the restaurant industry Thursday.

BlueRoomStream

The Illinois General Assembly passed an expansive criminal justice bill on the last day of the lame-duck session, which, among other changes, would end the use of cash bail and impose new certification requirements for police officers. The measure was a part of a slate of bills spearheaded by the Legislative Black Caucus.

Justin Fowler / Pool photo

Illinois lawmakers spent much of their weekend session debating criminal justice reform bills.

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is using the lame-duck session to address a range of social equity issues, from healthcare to education to criminal justice.

Nam. Y Huh/Associated Press

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is teaming up with the FBI to investigate a spate of fraudulent unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

via IDES website

  

GOP lawmakers are again demanding answers from Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Securities over the state’s processing of unemployment benefits. 

Google Maps

Every decade, the year after a Census, state lawmakers are tasked with adopting new legislative maps for Illinois, which can shift the balance of power in certain areas with demographic changes.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

  Illinois House Republicans say they’re still waiting on Gov. JB Pritzker to propose specific spending cuts to the state’s current year state budget, which is $4 billion out of balance.