Education Desk

Illinois already ranked last in the nation in state support for public schools. Cuts announced this week will just make a bad situation worse. But some pending legislation could bring more money to Springfield public schools.

Illinois State Board of Education will have $97 million to distribute to school districts most affected by the unexpected 2.25 percent cut in the current fiscal year budget, expected to be adopted this week. But Mary Fergus, spokesperson for the board, couldn't say how those funds would be distributed. Instead, she offered this statement:

March Madness is college basketball's annual shining moment, and few schools have shone as bright or as long as the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have been in 18 Final Fours and won the national championship five times, most recently in 2009.

flickr/John Walker

Wisconsin and Virginia have begun conversations about privatizing flagship public universities. Now, Illinois is about to have the discussion. Bloomington Republican State Senator Bill Brady has introduced a bill to privatize Illinois' public universities over six years.

Brady notes that the state also supports needy students at private institutions and it's possible the state would increase that kind of aid. Brady says operating costs on campuses might fall if state procurement rules and other mandates were to be lifted.

Several efforts in Washington are converging on the sensitive question of how best to safeguard the information software programs are gathering on students.

A proposed Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 is circulating in draft form. It has bipartisan sponsorship from Democratic Rep. Jared S. Polis of Colorado and Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana.

What happens when a teacher wants to assign an extra book for class, but the school can't afford a copy for every student?

For Dana Vanderford, an English teacher at L.W. Higgins High School in New Orleans, the book was Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. Buying enough copies for her class would have cost more than $800. Not an option.

"I get $80 a year to buy resources for my classroom," Vanderford says. "And I have 90 students per semester. So that $80 doesn't go very far."

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. Investigation Suspended:

The police department in Charlottesville, Va., says it has suspended its investigation into allegations of a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia in 2012.

The allegations came to national prominence after Rolling Stone published a cover story on the case.

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With Fewer New Teachers, Why Do Some Stick Around?

Mar 21, 2015

Earlier this month, we reported on an alarming drop in enrollment at teacher training programs in several large states. Considering the job's long hours, generally low pay and unpopular testing requirements, many teachers in our audience weren't surprised by the trend.

Prison is perhaps the last place anyone would expect to learn about investing and money management.

But at San Quentin Prison, Curtis Carroll's class is a hot item. The 36-year-old has gained a reputation for his stock-picking prowess. He's even earned the nickname "Wall Street."

Carroll and prison officials have teamed up to create a financial education class for inmates. He starts off the class with a motivational speech.

Fourth-Graders Get Rough Lesson In Politics

Mar 20, 2015
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Under Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal, public universities are facing a 32 percent cut. Legislators took testimony Thursday on how those cuts would affect each school. 

Each school president testified that Rauner’s reductions would force them to cut courses, decrease scholarships, and layoff staff. Illinois State University say it might have to cut 400 jobs. Northern Illinois University could raise freshman tuition by 75 percent. 

Responding to an incident that has sparked street protests in Charlottesville, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has ordered a state investigation into the arrest of a black University of Virginia student. Martese Johnson, 20, was left with blood streaming down his face after being arrested by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents.

The case created an uproar after photos emerged showing Johnson, a member of U.Va.'s Honor Committee, lying on the sidewalk with uniformed ABC agents crouching over him. Portions of the concrete, as well as Johnson's head and shirt, are bloody.

When a 4-year-old comes home from pre-K proudly announcing that she spent her "choice time" playing on the computer, what's a parent to do?

 

As Illinois struggles with public school funding, state officials received some expert advice today:

You have a rare opportunity; don’t mess it up. 

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about the Common Core.

It's the venerable custom in tennis and golf for the crowd to be still and quiet when players hit their shots.

Now, since even ordinary baseball batters have some success hitting against 98 mph fastballs with 40,000 fans standing and screaming, do you really believe that great athletes like Novak Djokovic or Rory McIlroy couldn't serve or putt with a few thousand fans hollering? If they'd grown up playing tennis or golf that way, that is. When disorder is a sustaining part of the game, players, in effect, put it out of their minds. Hear no evil, see no evil.

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The NPR Ed Team is all about great teaching — so how could we attend the annual SXSW education conference and not ask folks to tell us about their favorite teachers?

In his new book, Raising Kids Who Read, Daniel Willingham wants to be clear: There's a big difference between teaching kids to read and teaching them to love reading.

And Willingham, a parent himself, doesn't champion reading for the obvious reasons — not because research suggests that kids who read for pleasure do better in school and in life.

Right now, high school seniors across the country are trying hard not to think about what is — or isn't — coming in the mail.

They're anxiously awaiting acceptance letters (or the opposite) from their top-choice colleges and universities. But this story isn't about them. It's about a big group of seniors who could get into great schools but don't apply: high-achieving students from low-income families who live outside of America's big cities.

This weekend, Maine teacher Nancie Atwell was awarded the first Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million award intended to be the "Nobel Prize of teaching."

Growing up, Atwell, 63, never expected to become a teacher, or even to go to college. But from the moment she began teaching in 1973, Atwell says she felt right at home.

"I am so inspired by all my students, but especially the seventh- and eighth-graders," she says. "They are so uninhibited and if you ask them to do something they will just work their heads and hearts off."

In murder mystery novels, when the hero, a private detective or homicide cop, drops by a late-night Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to stave off a sudden craving for a beer or two or 20, it's usually in some dingy church basement or dilapidated storefront on the seedier side of town. There's a pot of burnt coffee and a few stale doughnuts on a back table.

The Center for Students in Recovery at the University of Texas could not be more different.

The NPR Ed team is back from Austin, where we connected with hundreds of educators and people excited about education at the annual South By Southwest Edu Conference. As with many conferences, there's just as much to be gained from conversations in the hallways and chance encounters as from the official sessions. Here's what we learned from both.

1) For many teachers, the most important tech tools are free.

Aziz Royesh is a man whose life has been defined by one over-arching ambition: He says he simply wants to be a teacher.

At 46, he has achieved that goal in one of the most difficult and dangerous environments in the world — Afghanistan. He has also founded a school that is now winning international acclaim as a model for education in that war-battered nation.

Lawyer Stephen Jones, hired yesterday by members of Oklahoma University's disbanded chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said today he's hopeful he can avoid a lawsuit against the school but he's not ruling one out.

Jones, who is most widely known for defending Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing trial, was retained by a board of alumni who oversee the OU chapter of SAE.

In Wisconsin, what began as a heartwarming show of courtesy and affection is now making Desiree Andrews, 14, into an international celebrity.

Desiree is a cheerleader at Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, Wis. She has Down syndrome — and as some hecklers learned last year, she has the full support of her school's basketball team and her community.

What's the best way to engage and prepare students? For 10 teachers across the world that's the million-dollar question — literally.

This Sunday, the Varkey Foundation will award $1 million to one remarkable teacher as part of its first Global Teacher Prize. Founded in 2010, the Varkey Foundation is a Dubai-based organization that trains and funds teachers internationally.

The Basin School District in rural south-central Idaho has something most districts in the state don't: preschool. But now that's at risk because of federal funding cuts.

It's not alone: Sparsely populated school districts and counties covered in federal forest lands will have less money this year — $250 million less — because Congress allowed the Secure Rural Schools Act to expire.

Since Idaho doesn't have public preschool, schools that want to offer it have to find creative ways to pay for the program — state money isn't an option.

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