Maureen Foertsch McKinney

News Editor / Equity Blog

Read Maureen's "Equity" blog.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers,  and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Rita Crundwell showing a horse
American Quarter Horse Association

Illinois’ male public officials and politicians aren’t the only ones behaving badly. A recent study looked at the cases of 29 Illinois women involved in corrupt acts over a 25-year period.

That’s the number rounded up by graduate student Ryan Ceresola. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale published the study this June.

With essay titles like “We Can’t Breath,” a new book co-edited by an Illinois State University professor aims to combat “modern-day lynchings of black men such as Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner and Michael Brown.’’

The Department of Education last year released the names of dozens of schools under investigation for poor handling of sexual assault cases. Two of those were in Illinois: the University of Chicago and Knox College in Galesburg.

The issue was on the radar of lawmakers. Late in the spring legislative session the House and Senate approved a bill to improve collegiate responses to campus sexual assault. The legislation was sent to the governor in June.

A pilot internship program for youth who age out of the foster care system would be designed in January, if approved by the governor.

The unpaid program, which aims to discourage youth homelessness, would operate for a two-year period before being assessed for long-term implementation, state Sen. Mattie Hunter, a Democrat from Chicago, says. The program would be offered to youth who’ve aged out of the system when they are 21 years old.

Photographs by Tony Wedick

 

One hundred miles west of Chicago lies Nachusa Grasslands, a 3,500-acre prairie restoration site.

The dry prairie, oak savannahs, grasslands and wetlands draw hundreds of different plant and animal species, including the endangered Blandings’ turtles and 180 different birds such as dickcissels and grasshopper and Henslow’s sparrows. The more than 700 plants include the state’s largest population of the federally threatened prairie bush clover, according to The Nature Conservancy.

Professor Maria Krysan
University Of Illinois At Chicago

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major opinion on housing discrimination. It determined that violations of the federal 1968 Fair Housing Act could occur even if intent to discriminate is not shown.

Meanwhile, the federal Housing and Urban Development administration announced new regulations that clarify the expectations of the act, which aims to limit racial bias in housing. They demand that cities and towns across the country analyze housing patterns for signs of racial discrimination and report the findings.

Several people commenting on my story last week: “Why Are Women Poor?” wrote that women in the story would not be in poverty if they had been married.

Picture of Zylinska family
Magdelina Zylinska

Nearly half of Illinois children in households headed by single women live in poverty — compared with just over a quarter of children in households headed by single men.

Nicholas Hartlep headshot
Illinois State University

With titles like “We Can’t Breathe” and “Grey Hoodies, Baggy Jeans, and Brown Skin,” a newly released book of essays stood out from much of the information that comes across the Equity blog radar. So we looked up co-editor Nicholas Hartlep, a professor in educational foundations at Illinois State University.  The book, published by Rowman and Littlefield, features 57 essays.  Hartlep, an author of several works on the topic of race, talked with Maureen Foertsch McKinney, who acts as co-curator of WUIS/Illinois’ Equity blog. 

American Quarter Horse Association

Illinois’ male public officials and politicians aren’t the only ones to behave badly. A recent study looked at the cases of 29 Illinois women involved in corrupt acts over a 25-year-period.

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Lisa Madigan pushed legislation calling for new policies to handle sexual assault cases on Illinois campuses. The bill was approved by both Houses in late May.

An international debate has churned since a Muslim chaplain from Northwestern University complained about her treatment on a United Airlines-operated flight.

I talked with University of Illinois professor Stacy Harwood, co-leader of a project on racial  microaggression,  about whether that flight attendant’s action could be considered racist.  


Barack Obama
WUIS/Illinois Issues

There is sure to be an economic benefit to the city of Chicago with the decision to locate the Barack Obama Presidential Center on the city’s south side, but not to the extent a University of Chicago impact study suggested.

schoolbus and rural setting in disrepair
Rain Rannu

The status of the New Orleans school system post-Hurricane Katrina is a personal issue for University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor Adrienne Dixson.

Now an academic focusing on issues of urban education and school reform, Dixson taught in the New Orleans public schools from 1991 to 1995, and has family in the region.

In a paper co-written with scholars from Georgia State University in Atlanta, she says, “We talked about the ways that public education has changed in a way that we argue displaces and disenfranchises people of color in particular.’’

Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren / Harvard

A recent study showed that children who grow up in poverty have a better shot at economic mobility depending on where they live.

The study, by economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren of Harvard University, was based on earning records for millions of families and is part of an ongoing effort called The Equality of Opportunity Project.

"We show that the area in which a child grow up has significant causal effects on her prospects for upward mobility," the report states.

A sex trafficking researcher is urging community members to take action to help thwart victimization.

“We have awakened to this issue of sex trafficking,” says Jody Raphael, a professor at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, who has investigated the sex trade in Illinois for about the past 15 years. “We really need to have some activism going in our communities.”

Members of the Illinois General Assembly’s Latino Caucus are calling for increased blood donations from Latinos because they are more likely to have the type in highest demand.

While the Latino population makes up 17 percent of the Illinois population, just an estimated 4 percent are blood donors, says Margaret Vaughn, who is government affairs direction for the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Donors.

New dads get depressed, too. And they should be evaluated and treated for post-partum mental health issues just as mothers are.

That’s according to the author of a recent Northwestern (University) Medicine study, which is the first of its kind to focus on the effects on children of fathers with post-partum depression, according to a university release. Many previous studies have looked at the impact of post-partum depression in mothers and the interactions between parents.

Equality Illinois

LGBT supporters have been in an uproar since Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. Illinois has had a similar law on the books for years but it never raised a stir. The leader of Equality Illinois explains why.

More than half of surveyed mental health patients reported that no health care providers had told them to exercise or reduce their intake of dietary fat, a recent study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported.

Among those surveyed were patients with diabetes, and 30 percent of those reported the lack of health information, even though the American Diabetes Association advises doctors to “counsel all patients with diabetes or at high risk of diabetes about physical activity and healthy dietary choices,” a news release from UIUC states.

Local human service agencies, school districts and municipalities report that child poverty has become a long-term problem for their communities, says a contributor to a new assessment of children’s quality of life in Illinois.

Women who are the poorest are five times more likely to have an unplanned birth as opposed to wealthy women, according to a recent study.

The Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute prepared the report comparing sexual activity, contraception use and abortion rates between different economic levels. Women who were the poorest had the greatest number of unintended pregnancies, while abortion rates were highest for the most affluent, according to researchers. 

Sex traffic in the US isn't exclusive to people forced to come here against their will. Illinois residents and natives have also become part of the black-market industry. So says Jody Raphael, a DePaul University law professor and researcher. She'll speak Tuesday night at 7pm at UIS (info HERE). She recently spoke with us about her work:

The Corporation for Enterprise Development

A new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline found that “in all 50 states, the percentage of ‘middle-class’ households — those making between 67 percent and 200 percent of the state’s median income — shrunk between 2000 and 2013.”

In Illinois, according to the assessment, that share slipped from 49.8 percent in 2000 to 45.8 percent in 2013. The median income in this state was $56,210 in 2013, down from an inflation-adjusted $64,201 in 2000.

Pew Research Center

The foreign-born population in the United States is projected to soar to record highs over the next half-century, a Pew Research Center analysis of Census projections shows.

Projections indicate that the immigrant population of 78 million will be nearly 19 percent of the U.S. population by 2060.

The Census Bureau projects that the previous immigrant share of the nation’s population will surpass the previous 1890 high of about 15 percent as soon as a decade from now.

Institute for Women's Policy Research

  Illinois earned a B- in a new report assessing status of women’s employment and wages in the states.

The report is a project of the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

According to the assessment, in Illinois, women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earned, and women will not receive equal pay in the state for another 50 years.
Meanwhile, 30 percent of women in Illinois have low-wage jobs.

Illinois ranked 16th overall. States were scored 1 to 5 and Illinois received a 4.11.

Isaiah Milton
Alex Wroblewski

When young black males in poor inner-city areas are murdered, their cases are less likely to be resolved, particularly if a gun is involved.

That’s the finding of Alonzo DeCarlo, division chair of social and behavioral sciences at the Springfield campus of Benedictine University. His findings, after a look into 10 years of Uniform Crime Reporting data kept by the FBI, were published in January by the journal Contemporary Social Science.

Poverty graphs
Social IMPACT Research Center / Heartland Alliance

The poverty rate in Illinois has held steady in recent years despite the fact that the nation has emerged from the Great Recession.

That’s according to a report issued recently by the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center. The group reported that the 14.7 percent poverty rate in Illinois for 2013, which is the most recent data available for the analysis, has been unchanged since 2012. The 2011 poverty rate was slightly higher at 15 percent.

Women are underrepresented in some academic fields because of stereotypes that make it seem that they are not as brilliant as men, according to a recent study produced by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Princeton University.

Author Thomas Gradel says when he first thought about the project that would become the book Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality, he envisioned it as an encyclopedia of corruption. But his collaborator Dick Simpson couldn’t picture that approach.

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