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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School Nurses Stock Drug To Reverse Opioid Overdoses

Sep 16, 2015

AnneMarie Zagari found her teenage son unresponsive on the couch after he took too many opioid painkillers in 2011. She began pounding his chest and slapping his face, and finally succeeded in reviving him by giving him CPR. It was a terrifying moment. And that panic wouldn't have been necessary if she'd had access to the drug naloxone (also known as Narcan), which can instantly reverse an overdose.

"It would have been instant revival," Zagari says.

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People looking out the windows of a Washington, D.C., school saw a group of men outside.

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" by US Department of Education / Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org

Illinois students will get a hint about how they scored on the PARCC test — the standardized test based on the Common Core — when statewide results are announced tomorrow. State officials have warned that scores will be lower than with previous tests. But U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says it’s time for an honest assessment.

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This summer, sophomore Anna Clemons spent a really long time trying to find an off-campus apartment.

She visited different complexes with her dad, took notes and made neat lists of pros and cons.

"They're really expensive here," she says. "I don't know how they can afford that, but I can't."

Some of the places were more expensive than the dorms at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she's a student. But then she found one that made sense with her budget.

The apartment is simple: fully carpeted, one bathroom and lots of beige.

Updated 11:10 p.m. ET

Leaders of Seattle's public school teachers voted Tuesday evening to suspend their week-old strike and return to work on Wednesday. The district's 53,000 students begin classes on Thursday.

The decision follows a tentative contract agreement which will go before the full membership for a vote on Sunday.

The Associated Press reports the plan includes a pay hike:

Defeating Democrats' attempt to filibuster a large budget shift, Republicans in Alabama's state Senate approved transferring $100 million from the education budget to the general fund to help cover a large deficit.

A critic of the move said his colleagues decided to "rob children" instead of finding the money elsewhere.

That statement came from Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, whose attempt to filibuster the move was cut off by the Republican supermajority.

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There is big news today for prospective college students and their parents. It comes from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is in Iowa with President Obama for his annual Back to School Bus Tour.

"Today, we're lending a hand to millions of high school students who want to go to college and who've worked hard," Duncan said. "We're announcing an easier, earlier FAFSA."

That's the Free Application For Federal Student Aid. With more than 100 questions, it's a gatekeeper for students hoping to get help paying for college.

To get to this college classroom, you have to walk past the barbed wire, between a line of armed guards, and through the heavy metal bars. Only then do you arrive at the circle of chairs.

When class starts, half the chairs are filled with so-called "inside students," men and women serving time behind bars. The other half of the seats are occupied by "outside students" — basically, traditional college students.

This coming year, more than 100 universities and colleges around the world will offer Inside-Out classes.

A few years ago, a good friend and I were walking near downtown Philadelphia, not far from my old elementary school, Thomas C. Durham, on 16th and Lombard. The school was built on the edge of a black neighborhood in South Philly in the early 1900s, and its design earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places when I was in the third grade. I nudged my friend to take a quick detour with me.

It's not just baby talk. Any kind of talk with young children — especially if they're too young to talk back — will do.

Because talk is vital to a child's brain development, says Dana Suskind, who found her passion for literacy in an unlikely place: the operating room.

Last week was supposed to be the first week of school for students in Seattle, Washington. Instead it was the beginning of a teachers' strike. Negotiators are at a standoff over wages and performance evaluations.

In 2012, Chicago's public school teachers went on strike, leaving the city's 350,000 kids out of school for eight days.

All over the country, high school graduates are making the jump to college. They're getting to know their roommates, buying supplies, and saying tearful goodbyes to parents.

It's a stressful time for any family, but consider this: For the growing number of students dealing with mental health issues, it can be a terrifying transition. Sometimes, it raises the question: Is college really an option?

That's the case with Luis, a bright young man from Virginia with a brain injury and bipolar disorder.

President Obama has been talking about creating a Consumer Reports-style college ratings system for more than a year. But the effort seemed to get bogged down in politics and a debate over what metrics to include.

Well, in a Saturday surprise, Obama unveiled his new College Scorecard this morning.

"You'll be able to see how much each school's graduates earn, how much debt they graduate with, and what percentage of a school's students can pay back their loans," the president said in his weekly address.

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In a classroom in the Bronx borough of New York City on a recent school day, a little boy in a green shirt got very frustrated. He was sitting on the floor with his fellow second-graders as they were going over a math problem with their teacher, when he suddenly turned away from the group and stamped his feet. It seemed like he was mad that she had called on another student. But instead of reprimanding him, the teacher asked him to chime in.

"You agree?" she asked him. "Do you want to take a look at it?"

The boy said yes and continued taking part in the lesson.

NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you four items.

From NPR Washington Desk correspondent Brian Naylor:

The US News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, the leaderboard of competitive college admissions, are out this week. And all this week on All Things Considered, we've been talking with students who graduated from high school in Montgomery County, Md., four or five years ago.

Imagine you had the option of going to a top state university on a full ride or a prestigious Ivy League for about $20,000 a year. Would it be a hard decision? What would you choose?

Four years ago, Becca Arbacher had to make that decision. She chose Columbia in New York City over the University of Michigan.

And she's glad she did.

"Being at Columbia has offered me some really incredible opportunities that I wouldn't have otherwise," says Arbacher. "It's kind of impossible for me to guess what my experience would have been like at Michigan."

In Texas, fewer high school boys are playing football. And while there may be some concern about head injuries, one young athlete says the trend has more to do with demands on his time and the push for players to specialize in one sport.

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Time for a pop quiz: When it comes to health care, what's the difference between cost, charge and payment?

"Does anyone want to take a stab at it?" Sara-Megumi Naylor asks a group of first-year residents at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Naylor answers her own question with a car metaphor. "Producing the car might be $10,000, but the price on the window might be $20,000, and then you might end up giving them [a deal for] $18,000, so that's cost versus charge versus payment," she explains.

Tourists come from all over the world to visit Harvard Yard, the famous quad at the center of one of the world's most renowned universities. But as The Boston Globe reports, the number and enthusiasm of these visitors has prompted Harvard officials to implement a new rule banning tourists from taking photos of students through building windows.

"You get really used to [the tourists]," Brent Westbrook, 22, said of life at Harvard.

Alabama's Science Standards Get A Makeover

Sep 10, 2015

Alabama schools are getting new science standards for the first time in a decade. The state Board of Education voted unanimously today to replace old standards that some teachers say were behind the times the moment they were approved.

As evidence, they point to their students' biology textbooks, many of which currently come with warning stickers that call evolution "a controversial theory." The state's old science standards say students should "wrestle with the unresolved problems still faced" by evolution.

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Seattle Public School teachers walked off the job today. It was supposed to be the first day of school.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What do we want?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Fair contracts.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When do we want it?

Going to college today is a very different experience than it once was. The cost has soared, and the great recession cut into many of the assets that were supposed to pay for it. This week, All Things Considered is talking with young people — and in some cases their parents — about the value of school and about their choice of what kind of college to attend.

The giant semiconductor manufacturer Intel will be severing ties with a long- running science and mathematics competition that has awarded millions of dollars in prize money to America's top high school students.

Intel has been a corporate sponsor of the Science Talent Search since 1998, according to the Society For Science, the group that administers the contest.

Instead of welcoming some 53,000 students to the start of the school year, teachers in Seattle are marching in picket lines Wednesday, going on strike over issues that range from pay to testing.

From member station KUOW, Ann Dornfeld reports for our Newscast unit:

"The district said it was offering the teachers a generous pay raise, but teachers said they deserve more, after waiting through the great recession for higher pay.

There's a lot of evidence that the meals school cafeterias are serving have gotten healthier since new federal nutrition standards were rolled out.

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