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Springfield School District 186

Jennifer Gill has been superintendent of Springfield School District 186 only since May 2013, but she is already confronting racial issues in the district. She has chosen a diverse cabinet of administrators, and she has sent key employees to training sessions in restorative practices. Below is an excerpt of our lengthy conversation about race and discipline:

  How did WUIS decide to do this series?

road construction
Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Portions of the gas tax collected when you fuel your car is supposed to go to municipalities, for road repairs like filling potholes, or for buying salt needed when it snows.

Instead, that money is trapped in the budget stalemate.

Statewide, $57  million in gas tax has been collected since July.   The measure at the Capitol would authorize releasing $146 million for costs through Sept. 30.

Macomb Mayor Michael Inman says the money is needed.

Despite great weather, Illinois' State Fair, which fell later in August than usual, saw a huge decline in attendance.

At the state fair's kickoff earlier this month, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced his love of the event.

"I hope everybody in Springfield, everybody around the state, come on out," he said just before the fair's opening parade.

Instead, figures show attendance fell by half. The state says 411,500 people went through the fair's gates, versus the 847,000 who showed up last year.

Greg Gayne / FOX. © 2015 FOX Broadcasting

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and guess that the majority of public radio listeners aren't also huge fans of "reality" T.V. Running with that assumption, I'm also going to guess not everyone reading this has already heard of Chicago's Tommy Walton. Well let me tell you...

William Brandt and Brad Erens
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois legislators are considering whether local governments should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. Members of the Illinois House heard from dueling experts Tuesday.

It’s rare for cities and towns to declare what’s known as a Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

William Brandt, a bankruptcy consultant, says when it does happen, it's really just an “abrogation of political will” by elected officials.

Joanna Klonsky / VOYCE

In May, we reported on the passage of legislation that would limit school suspensions and expulsions, and introduced listeners to some of the young activists who lobbied lawmakers for two years to get the bill passed. This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it into law. Below is the press release from the activist group VOYCE, or Voices Of Youth in Chicago Education. 

Governor Rauner Signs Groundbreaking Law Disrupting “School-to-Prison Pipeline”

sj-r.com

On this week's report Tim and Bill discuss some hi-tech jobs coming to Springfield, a drop in soybean prices and some big piles of rubble.

wuis

Illinois is nearing the end of August, and still there's no state budget in place. But House members will return to Springfield today.

The Illinois House controls the fate of a measure that's not a budget bill, per say, but which Gov. Bruce Rauner says could have major financial ramifications for the state.

It'd prevent his ability to lock out state workers -- something he's said he won't do --- as well as forbid employees from striking. Instead, an arbitrator would settle an impasse if Rauner and the AFSCME union can't agree to a new contract.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS

If you’ve got a kid in school, chances are you’ve got a handbook with a long list of rules and expectations. But data suggests that, in many schools, enforcement may be unequal, with black students getting more disciplinary actions than white students.

“If you’re an African American male, you’re going to get targeted at Springfield High, regardless. You can be a person who’s into school; they still gonna watch you.”

State of Illinois

The Illinois National Guard's commanding officer says for years the guard has been planning for the biggest catastrophes that could affect Illinois, like an earthquake in southern Illinois along the New Madrid fault.

Major General Richard Hayes Junior says trying out those plans is at the heart of an exercise in Springfield this week, simulating a 7.7 magnitude quake.

University of Illinois Public Affairs

Ilesanmi Adesida, provost of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is leaving his post and returning to a faculty position, effective Aug. 31.

This announcement comes weeks after the release of hundreds of emails exchanged among top university officials, some using their personal accounts to dodge disclosure, as they scrambled to deal with a series of controversies. 

Adesida is following the footsteps of Phyllis Wise, the former chancellor of the university, who was asked to resign her position after the emails came out.

fightingillini.com

The University of Illinois will name the new court at the State Farm Center after longtime Illini coach Lou Henson.  

The university announced the move Monday, saying the Lou Henson Court will bear the 83-year-old former coach's signature.  

Henson is the winningest coach in the history of the University of Illinois. He won 423 games in 21 seasons. This year, he was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and is due to be inducted in November.  

Henson is also battling what he has called pre-leukemia and is undergoing chemotherapy.  

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois now has a chief operating officer: Linda Lingle. Gov. Bruce Rauner talks a lot about the "superstars" he's hired to help him run the state, and she's considered one of them. She's come to Illinois from Hawaii, where she was governor for eight years.

The University of Illinois is getting by with no new state funding, as the budget impasse continues in Springfield. U of I President Timothy Killeen says they can continue this way for a few more weeks --- but after that, there could be trouble.

Paris Taborn

Paris Taborn chose to leave Springfield High.

“I kept getting in trouble at school. So like, I would get sent home, and stuff, every day. I would just come to school -- oh, your shirt’s too short. Come to school -- your bra strap’s showing.”

She didn’t get into fights; she didn’t threaten a teacher. She just had a lot of tardies and dress code violations that she felt were unfair.

“They would literally come in our class and be like ‘Black girls have more butt than white girls; that’s why we don’t say anything to them.’ "

cspl

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln has received a $400,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that will allow more documents about Lincoln’s congressional career to be placed online.

The new three-year grant is the largest the Papers of Abraham Lincoln has received from the NEH. It comes in the form of $100,000 in outright funds and $300,000 in matching funds.

Creative Commons

Questions and fears about quality of care in nursing homes may be assuaged come January. A new law signed by the governor Friday will permit electronic monitoring.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

While presidential candidates seemed as prevalent as funnel cakes at the Iowa State Fair, none stopped by Illinois'.

A Democratic Party leader says Hillary Clinton was invited to its political events in Springfield. Instead, Clinton had surrogates speak on her behalf, including Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

"Hillary Clinton is a leader, she is a fighter, she is a friend and having grown up in Park Ridge, Illinois, she is one of us," Madigan said.

Politicians and the party faithful flocked to the Illinois State Fair this week, with both Democrats and Republicans defining the continuing budget impasse as an epic struggle.  However, the struggle remains static, with no work toward an agreement.  Becky Schlikerman of the Chicago Sun Times joins the panel.

Democrat Day 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois Democrats say they're in an "epic" struggle with the state's new Republican governor. The party met in Springfield Thursday for its annual fundraising breakfast and State Fair rally.

The afternoon rally began with a tongue-in-cheek thank-you to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

"Why am I here to thank Bruce Rauner?" asked state Rep. Lou Lang, from Skokie. "Look around you — the Democratic Party has never been as energized or as organized as it is right now."

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Democrats say their party is strong and more energized than ever, thanks to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

The day after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner accused them of holding up progress, hundreds of Democrats packed into a ballroom rose to their feet when Senate President John Cullerton said "We are willing to work with Gov. Rauner, but we don't work for Gov. Rauner, okay?"

Democrats were in Springfield for their annual state fair gathering.

Gov. Rauner Wants Changes In Higher Education

Aug 20, 2015

Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal calls for cutting state higher education funding by nearly a third. But at the Illinois State Fair this week, Rauner turned back to his long-term goal of raising state funding for state universities.

In an interview on WILL’s Closing Market Report, the Republican governor repeated the argument he made in his gubernatorial campaign last year --- that an increase in funding should come with a change in how that funding is spent.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

For today’s parents, I see the greatest new challenge as the pervasive nature of smart phones.

All of us are susceptible.  We react to the bells and whistles like Pavlov’s dogs, reaching for our phones automatically, almost without regard for what is going on around us.  We treat them as the most exacting tyrants, demanding our instantaneous attention.

Rachel Otwell // WUIS

When you think of a barbershop chorus, you probably picture men performing.  But plenty of women also join in the fun. The Sweet Adelines International Organization has been around for 70 years now.  One of the choirs, based in Springfield, has been hitting all the right notes:


courtesy of Kristin Wheeler

Love isn't always easy. Just about any couple that's been married for at least ten years will be quick to tell you that. It takes compromise and understanding, and sometimes - courage. The story of Jane Eyre is about that - but also a young orphan who goes on to be an independent and righteous woman, even though a patriarchal society makes that difficult.

Illinois Issues: Congressional Exploits

Aug 20, 2015
Aaron Schock
Aaron Schock / Instagram

Antics like sexual misconduct, theft and ethical indiscretions have landed Illinois' representatives in trouble for decades.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner's November election victory landed his party a summer prize Illinois Republicans haven't had in dozen years --- the pride of having Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair. But Rauner's day of political revelry Wednesday ended with a stinging defeat.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / N

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday rebuked Governor Bruce Rauner in his labor negotiations with the state's biggest government-employee union.

After months of negotiations have failed to reach an agreement, unions want legislation that would let an arbitrator resolve intractable disputes.

Rauner vetoed it, saying it would tie his hands. He also promised not to lock workers out.

But Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, says the real fear is that Rauner will demand workers accept "completely unreasonable" terms.

Randy Dunn
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Among the casualties of the Illinois budget impasse are grants that help low-income students pay for college. On Wednesday, Democrats in the state Senate voted to address that.

Thousands of students take advantage of the so-called MAP grants to attend everything from community colleges to the U. of I.

Randy Dunn, the president of Southern Illinois University, says two-thirds of students at the Carbondale campus get help from the program.

"The average award for our students is significant," Dunn told a Senate committee. "This is not something that's chicken feed."

Amanda Vinicky

A budget impasse lingers, but hasn't interrupted politicians' big rallies at the Illinois State Fair. Democrats will have their chance tomorrow but today was Republicans' chance.

Republicans are still relishing capturing the governor's office for the first time in a dozen years.

"Are you guys ready? I don't see you guys standing! We need to be lit for this," Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said, as she introduced Gov. Bruce Rauner, prompting the crowd to rise to their feet.

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