education

T-shirts are sold on the first day of the September 2012 teachers’ strike.
Chicago Teachers Union

Three years ago, Gov. Pat Quinn was preparing to sign legislation that would tie teachers’ performance evaluations to the growth of their students. It was hailed as historic. Part of a national trend spurred by states’ desire to qualify for the Obama administration’s Race to the Top federal education grants.

The plan was to phase it in year by year, starting with Chicago in the fall of 2012, followed by the lowest performing schools across the state, with all schools in compliance by 2016.

Education Inequality
WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s been a decade since a blue-ribbon panel outlined an ambitious plan designed to finally force the state to provide an adequate level of funding for Illinois schoolchildren.

But, just as they’ve failed in the past, Illinois policymakers have again fallen far short of the goals laid out in the 2002 Education Funding Advisory Board report. The state’s recently approved budget will leave many school districts having to dip into their reserve funds, take out loans or, if labor contracts allow for it, cut personnel and programs to deal with a $161 million cut in general state aid.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

Ask gray-haired Illinoisans how they first learned about the principles of democracy, and there’s a good chance their experiences will mirror those of retired teacher Patton Feichter. 

The 66-year-old Elk Grove Village trustee, a product of the Chicago public school system, recalls studying a civics textbook in the eighth grade. In high school, he had a year each of American and European history and a semester of government.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

When Bob Knight was coaching basketball at my Hoosier alma mater, he once belittled sports journalists by saying: “All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.”

I remember thinking at the time: “Well, Coach, you literary lion, by second grade, I had learned the rules of basketball, but I doubt you’d find my skills good enough to play for you. And my guess is that you couldn’t meet my writing standards, either.”

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

 

 

They are overcompensated and underworked.

They siphon undeserved cash from state budgets, shortchanging essential needs such as human services or the health and safety of our citizens.

They are to blame for America’s difficulty in maintaining its superior economic position among the world’s nations.

They mostly fail in their primary job responsibility.

They are unable to cope effectively with the pressures brought on by normal societal changes.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

"Most state standards are abysmal; they’re vague; they’re not very rigorous; and they have a lot of silliness lurking within them.” 

Michael Petrilli,
Thomas B. Fordham Institute

 All public school students would be expected to learn the same concepts and skills in math and English under a proposed set of national academic standards, an idea that proponents say is necessary and critics say doesn’t go far enough.

Jamey Dunn
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Faced with $1.3 billion in proposed cuts to education in Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget, along with looming layoffs of thousands of teachers and the chronic failure of some schools to meet No Child Left Behind standards, lawmakers are pushing several education proposals that emphasize “choice” for both schools and students. 

The cost of the system, so far, is covered by a $9 million federal grant. The State Board of Education estimates the first-year cost of developing the program at about $1.1 million, followed by $2.5 million each of the next three years.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois is about to embark on a new system that will make self-described “data wonks” bug-eyed. They’ll be able to delve into arcane details of test results and graduation rates, among other statistics collected from the state’s 877 school districts each year. What’s different about this new system is that it will track the same group of students from the time they learn their alphabet to the time they embark on college or careers.

University of Illinois at Springfield

Thousands of miles away in Guatemala, a 62-year-old college student learns math from instructors at the University of Illinois at Springfield. 

For several years, the increasing number of students taking online classes at for-profit schools has invited questions about the quality of education received through the Internet. But as public universities face mounting costs, they also are entering the mix, changing the way students and professors think about the classroom. 

The implications could be great. 

Bethany Jaeger
WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

 

Illinois’ nationally recognized Preschool for All program, which Gov. Rod Blagojevich launched in 2006, is set to expire this year. Lawmakers are sure to renew it, but only for another two years, despite support to make it permanent. That’s the General Assembly’s way to keep a short leash on the governor for fear of sending him a blank check.

Bethany Jaeger
WUIS/Illinois Issues

There are winners and losers in the state's education system. Schools in wealthy regions can afford to spend $25,000 on each student, while those in poor areas can only afford about $5,000 per student.

In recent years, the debate on school finance reform has focused on finding ways to increase and equalize school spending. At the heart of the debate is whether Illinois should shift the burden of funding elementary and secondary schools from the local property tax to the state income tax. But voters' fears of tax hikes keep that issue under the political table.  

State budget cuts have threatened to take a bite out of Golden Apple teacher scholarships. 

But while the governor has been seeking to eliminate funding for the highly regarded private program, the state is paying a collection agency to go after students who accepted competing state-run scholarships then skipped out on commitments to teach in struggling schools.

While campaigning for president, George W. Bush borrowed a phrase from the Children’s Defense Fund to sell his education message: “No child left behind.” Attaching it to the most recent rewrite of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Republican-led Congress approved the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, and President Bush signed it into law.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Samantha gave a lot of thought to her chances for a good education. A student at East St. Louis High, a down-and-out school in a virtually all-black, low-income district, she had once tried to transfer to a better school in nearby Fairview Heights, a mainly white district in the state’s Metro East region. It didn’t work.

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s not clear whether the governor gets his breakfast cereal in those oversized boxes that line the aisles of no-frills superstores. But when it comes to the state, Rod Blagojevich is big on buying in bulk. The underlying theory: Use the purchasing power of state government to lower prices for local governments.

Brown v. Board of Education
Charlotte Observer

After five decades of increasing integration, American schools are now moving in the other direction, toward more segregation for African-American and Latino students. In fact, the new study out of Harvard University making that contention names Illinois among the states that continue to have the most segregated schools.

Students at Kreitner Elementary School in Collinsville hear two sets of morning announcements: one in English and one in Spanish.

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