Education Desk

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.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In addition to the letter today to the nation's school districts urging them to protect the rights of transgender students, the Education Department provided a long report on states and districts it says are already doing so.

On Friday morning, the Obama administration issued a "Dear Colleagues" letter to the nation's school districts spelling out what they can do to safeguard the civil rights of students at K-12 schools and colleges, based on their gender identity.

The administration argues that Title IX, which outlaws sex discrimination for any school receiving federal funding, covers gender identity.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Obama administration issued guidance to schools Friday, saying they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The administration acknowledges this is "new terrain" for some people and says it wants to help school districts avoid running afoul of civil rights laws.

Gaby remembers the first time she threw up while taking a test. It was a few months ago, early on in her freshman year at Marblehead High School in Massachusetts.

She was sitting in biology class when, she recalls, she got so anxious that she excused herself to the bathroom.

Gaby typically starts her day at 6 a.m. and gets to school at 7:15. On Mondays she runs a government club called Junior State of America. She's also running for class president, sits on the women's rights awareness group, and helps out at the school's rotary club.

A federal judge's ruling in Florida has brought a new development in the various government investigations of the for-profit college industry: prison time for the school's founder.

Alejandro Amor, the founder of a college called FastTrain in South Florida, was sentenced last week to eight years in federal prison for fraud.

Illinois’ school funding formula relies heavily on property taxes.

 

That leaves districts with low land values to make do with about six thousand dollars per student each year, while districts with thriving businesses can spend up to five times that amount.

 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that Illinois needs to change the formula, but they get caught on the question of how.

When it comes to punishing students for campus sexual assault, some say kicking offenders out of school isn't enough. They want schools to put a permanent note on offenders' transcripts explaining that they've been punished for sexual misconduct, so other schools — or employers — can be warned.

Survivor Carmen McNeill says it's common sense. She was a college junior nearly two years ago when, she says, she passed out on someone's bed after a party, from a mix of drinks — including one she suspects was spiked.

The Traverse City Area Public Schools in northern Michigan have a saying: "Great Community, Great Schools." The Washington Post agrees, ranking Traverse City high schools some of the most challenging in the country.

But the district of about 9,500 is losing enough students — 12 percent in the last 10 years — that last fall superintendent Paul Soma recommended closing three elementary schools.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois Senate approved a big change to the way Illinois funds schools yesterday, but that doesn't ensure anything will change.

Public schools in the U.S. now have a majority of nonwhite students.

That's been the case since 2014, and yet children of color — especially boys — still lag behind their white peers.

This story has been all over the media. It's topic No. 1 at education conferences on university campuses. Even the White House is all over it.

But what Ron Ferguson wants to know is why. And he says there's a big group of experts out there who never get asked about it: boys and young men of color.

The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, says it will not allow an admitted student to wear a Muslim headscarf. The woman's family is considering legal action, according to a Muslim advocacy group.

In a statement Tuesday, Citadel President John Rosa says, "Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model." Through a "relinquishing of self," the lieutenant general says, "cadets learn the value of teamwork to function as a single unit."

Obama Gets All In His Blackness At Howard

May 10, 2016
Senators Kimberly Lightford and William Delgado debate in the corridor of the statehouse
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

Should kids be allowed to skip standardized tests? In Illinois, children already have the right to refuse to take, for example, the PARCC test, associated with Common Core. Last year, the number of children who exercised that right amounted to 4.4 percent of eligible students statewide.

 

That may sound like an insignificant number, but consider this: The previous year, just one half of one percent of eligible students in Illinois opted out.

This week Hillary Clinton was in Virginia to talk about women, family and workplace issues. She met at the Mug'n Muffin coffee shop with local participants in a program called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters.

In HIPPY, as it's called, parents receive free books, educational materials and weekly home visits to coach them on how to get their young children ready for school — for example, by reading to them daily.

THE CLAIM

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Texas' lieutenant governor is calling for the resignation of the Fort Worth Independent School District superintendent over guidelines intended to support transgender students.

fermentation.siu.edu

We all know beer is a popular beverage amongst many young people attending college. Starting in the fall, some Southern Illinois University Carbondale students will be majoring in it. We talk with Matt McCarroll about the Fermentation Science Institute there, and the bachelor's degree in fermentation science that will soon be offered:

In Sarah Parrish's second-grade classroom, the colors are loud, but the kids are quiet.

It's Thursday morning. Her students sit at their desks, reading to themselves. Books about Ramona and Junie B. Jones. Mystery books, fantasy books ...

Marisa Sotelino has just finished Horse Diaries #3: Koda. She grins when asked about it, showing a mouthful of light green braces.

"It's interesting to see other people, or animals' point of view," she explains, "because, well, you can't be a different person."

The federal government is getting into hip-hop — well, sort of.

A case over school finance in New York has been dragging on now for more than 20 years.

Seven-year-old Anaya Ellick, who was born with no hands and does not use prostheses, recently won a national penmanship contest.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In the early 1990s, voters in Oregon were feeling some tax anxiety.

Property values were rising, and many worried that also meant a rise in property taxes. And so, with something called Measure 5, they capped them.

Since schools depend heavily on property taxes, Oregon did something unique. The state decided to use income tax revenue to help offset the effect of this new property-tax cap.

There's just one problem: In tough economic times, income is more volatile than property values. And so began a roller coaster for Oregon's schools.

New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport is among the busiest in the country: More than 1,000 flights touch down and take off each day. More than 50 million passengers hurry through its gates each year.

But something else is happening, too.

Not far from the waxed floors of the terminals and the automated voice proclaiming the end of the moving walkway, there's a school. And a classroom that has six wheels, two wings and a tail. It is a Boeing 727, parked on the tarmac near the hangars and warehouses.

WIUM

A $454 million bill to increase funding for financially struggling Illinois colleges and universities has cleared the state Senate. 

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