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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Bloodletting to keep the "humors" in balance was a leading medical treatment from ancient Greece to the late 19th century. That's hard to believe now, in the age of robot-assisted surgery, but "doctors" trusted lancets and leeches for centuries.

To Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, the college lecture is the educational equivalent of bloodletting, one long overdue for revision.

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High school seniors who plan to go on to college should be finalizing their dorm and roommate choices about now.

But this year, those decisions aren’t about who brings the mini-fridge. With a total lack of  state funding for higher education, it’s about which schools and programs will be fiscally stable, or whether to go at all.

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

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

Part of NPR's Your Money And Your Life series

"How many of you guys have $1,200 in your pocket right now?"

Victor Robertson's voice echoes through the auditorium at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., where 700 students are taking their seats.

Robertson is from the city's Summer Youth Employment Program, which connects 13,500 young adults with summer jobs at places like CVS and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Copyright 2016 KCUR-FM. To see more, visit KCUR-FM.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / N

Lawmakers got a look at Gov. Bruce Rauner's school funding proposal today. 

 

As promised, the governor's plan gives every district the full amount of state aid due under the current school funding formula. But that formula, which relies heavily on property taxes, has been called the most inequitable plan in the nation. 

Imagine you're back in school, bored to death, with limited academic options. Because you're learning English, everybody assumes you're not ready for more challenging work. What they don't realize is that you're gifted.

Researchers say this happens to lots of gifted children who arrive at school speaking little or no English. These students go unnoticed, until someone taps into their remarkable talent and potential. Vanessa Minero Leon was lucky. She was one of those students who got noticed.

Merriam-Webster defines jargon as "the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity, group, profession, or field of study."

Of the 3 million students identified as gifted in the U.S., English Language Learners are by far the most underrepresented. And nobody knows that better than 17-year-old Alejandra Galindo.

"It's just kind of hard to not see people who look like me in my classes," she says. "I'm a minority in the gifted world."

Six-year-old Sophie says she has always known she's a girl. "I used to be Yoshi," she says. "But I didn't like being called Yoshi." And she didn't like being called a boy.

Sophie lives with her family in Bellingham, Wash. Her mother, Jena Lopez, says she started seeing the signs before Sophie turned 2.

"She'd say things like, 'I'm a she, not a he,' " Lopez says. "She would cry if we misgendered her. She'd become angry."

Years ago, in a Brooklyn high school, a door slammed. Christopher Emdin, then a 10th-grader, immediately ducked under his desk. His math teacher accused him of being a clown and sent him to the principal's office.

Emdin wasn't being a clown.

A couple of days before, there had been a shooting just outside his apartment building. He thought the slamming door was a gun shot. His jump for cover was instinctual.

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

Last month, I found myself sitting across from my dad in a nice restaurant in Georgetown, when he popped the question.

"Have you ever thought about law school?" he asked. He's really curious about my plans for when I finish college. "I think you'd make a great lawyer. And then you'd be able to make some money."

Philadelphia's new mayor wants to do something few American cities have done: pass a tax on soda and other sugary drinks.

So far, Berkeley, Calif., has been the only U.S. city to approve such a tax. That measure was aimed at reducing soda consumption (and the negative health effects that go along with drinking too much of it).

High schools around the country are increasingly turning to external, for-profit providers for "online credit recovery." These courses, taken on a computer, offer students who have failed a course a second chance to earn credits they need for graduation, whether after school, in the summer or during the school year.

Graduate students at private universities are asking regulators to consider these questions: Are we employees, or not? Can we join a union?

The National Labor Relations Board recently decided to review its previous position, reigniting debate within the ivory tower.

For Paul Katz, who's three years into a history Ph.D. program at Columbia University, the 15 to 20 hours a week he spends teaching university undergraduates should mean he's an employee. He teaches in addition to conducting his own research.

"Discuss, monitor, and educate."

That's Kortney Peagram's advice to parents and teachers who want to help special needs teens lead an online life. She wrote up some of her experiences as a psychologist working to reduce cyberbullying in Chicago for our friends at NPR's All Tech Considered.

It must have seemed a straightforward way to honor a U.S. Supreme Court justice who was famous for, among other things, prizing straightforwardness. But then people began to titter about the unintended acronym of the Antonin Scalia School of Law — and now George Mason University has tweaked the name.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois/Illinois Issues

Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed increased funding for elementary and secondary schools.  But Democrats don't want to add money to a formula they say is fundamentally inequitable. Instead, they're proposing a new way to calculate how much state aid flows to each school district.

When Andrea Diaz was applying to colleges, she got good news and bad news. The good news was that American University, a private four-year university in Washington, D.C., wanted her. The bad news was that it required her to come to campus early to take two summer developmental-level courses in math and English.

"I was traumatized by it," Diaz says, "because I felt that they didn't see in me the potential to do well in college."

When we think of colleges, we imagine sprawling campuses, big-time sports programs, hefty endowments, and massive libraries stuffed with thousands of books.

But the earliest universities were a little less grand.

They were formed before Gutenberg invented the printing press, and before paper was universally available. Books were copied out by hand onto expensive manuscripts made from animal skins.

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

Princeton University's board of trustees has decided that it will not remove Woodrow Wilson's name from its School of Public and International Affairs and from a residential college, despite student protests over the former president's segregationist views.

It all started with a simple request. In 2006, Cathryn Couch was working as a chef, making home-delivery meals for clients. One day, a friend called and asked: Did Couch have any cooking jobs for her teenage daughter? She didn't, but the friend persisted. So Couch eventually came up with a project: making meals and delivering them to a local homeless center.

ilga.gov

In some Illinois school districts, transgender students are allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, rather than their anatomy. But an Illinois lawmaker wants to change that.

As a bullying counselor, I spend many of my days helping students and teachers handle confrontational behavior — or, as the kids say, drama. But this was a peculiar situation.

It started, as bullying often does, in a school hallway. E says she overhead A talking about her. (Editor's note: Only the girls' first initials are being used to protect their identities, given the sensitivity of the subject.)

It's one of the most basic things in education: seeing the board. Research has shown, over and over again, that if you can't see, you're going to have an awfully hard time in school. And yet too often this simple issue gets overlooked.

Chassy’s payments stayed out of the public eye primarily through a mechanism under fire in states across the nation: The use of private university foundations to discreetly accept donations that would be public record if given directly to the university. In this case, it was the University of Illinois Foundation that administered the Monsanto payments. DISCLOSURE: The University of Illinois Foundation (UIF) administers the gift funds of NPR Illinois.

New Mexico offers stunning ski slopes, high desert vistas and cultural sites, all sights you'll see in the state's tourism campaign called "New Mexico True."

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