Maureen Foertsch McKinney

Managing Editor/ Code Switch Illinois Blog

Read Maureen's "Code Switch Illinois" blog.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers. She is editor of the magazine's Briefly section. And she is responsible for working with the art director to conceptualize the art and photography used in the magazine. 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 also has taught newswriting at Eastern Illinois University, where 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.

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.

Lawmakers in Springfield are renewing efforts to pass legislation that would ban the practice of sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors.

The Brookings Institute

A report released today found that women who are the poorest are five times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy as opposed to wealthy women.

The Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute prepared a report that compared sexual activity, contraception use and abortion rates among women representing 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.

Alex Wroblewki

One of the major sources for our November Illinois Issues story on young black males is the author of a recently released study that points to a way things are tougher for that demographic group in poor inner-city environments. 

As victims of crime, they are less likely to get their murder cases resolved, particularly if a gun is involved. 

Illinois girls lag behind other states in the number that enroll in science, technology, engineering and math classes, according to a recent University of Illinois report commissioned by the Illinois State Board of Education.

In STEM courses, Illinois females represent 15 percent of the enrollments as opposed to 31 percent nationwide.

Schlosser, a retired Rantoul police lieutenant with 20 years of experience, has been director of the University of Illinois’ Police Training Institute since 2012. Among other degrees, he holds a doctorate in education from the U of I, and his studies have focused on what he calls the intersection of policing and race. This an edited, condensed version of his conversation with Managing Editor Maureen Foertsch McKinney.

Q. As an academic, I believe your research focused on the intersection of race and policing.

Gloria Davis addresses a Senate committee
Senate Democratic Caucus

America’s middle class faced threats to its financial well-being even prior to the Great Recession.

When Jorge Chapa was a student at the University of Chicago, he had a lab job collecting brain samples from a meatpacking plant. That’s how, in 1974, he became familiar with the industry and its bloody and backbreaking disassembly line. He revisited meatpacking 30 years later, as a sociologist. This time he analyzed it for a study showing how the once high-paying job had slid from providing a middle-class living into one paying minimum wage.

This personal account is a sidebar to the feature story Rape laws by Kristy Kennedy

Three different men sexually assaulted me when I was a sophomore in college. That was 30 years ago or so. In that time, I’ve come to re-evaluate what it means to be to be raped. And I’ve kept in mind what I can do to help protect my daughter, who at 22 is a little older than I was in the early 1980s when I was assaulted while a student at Eastern Illinois University.

 The poverty rate in Illinois has held steady in recent years despite the nation’s post-Great Recession status.

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

Pew Research Center

The newly seated 114th Congress is the most ethically diverse in the nation’s history, but the numbers are still far from proportionate to the country’s population. The information comes from an analysis from the Pew Research Center that was released yesterday.

Non-whites account for 17 percent of the Congress seated earlier this month — but that trails far behind the share of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, which accounts for 38 percent of the total population.

When looking specifically at new members, they account for 15 percent of Congress. 

Maureen Foertsch McKinney
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Editor's note:
January marks a new phase in our journalism.  Due to the merger between WUIS and Illinois Issues, we now have a number of journalists that enable reporting on a beat model.  A beat allows a reporter to learn events and people more thoroughly than general assignment reporting.  Each reporter is focusing on key issues in the state.  We're calling it the "Illinois Issues Initiative." 

CODE SWITCH ILLINOIS
Maureen Foertsch McKinney

Photograph by Alex Wroblewski

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has brought to national attention the obstacles that many young black males face - including racial profiling and a world where media portrayals of their peers are often less-than-flattering. Maureen McKinney took a look at the topic in Illinois. She joined Rachel Otwell for this interview: 

Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR)

A little over a decade ago, cougars and wolves started showing up in Illinois for the first time since the late 1800s. In August, Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure that aims to protect and manage the animals. Maureen McKinney reported on the topic for Illinois Issues magazine. She spoke with us about it for this interview:

Marilyn Escoe and her children — Kayla, Kyla and Kyle Escoe and Kaleyah Wesley — were homeless until November.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

For Kaleyah Wesley, thoughts of her family’s life in a Chicago homeless shelter made it difficult to focus on school, particularly in math, the subject she found hardest.

The then-sixth-grader woke at 5 a.m. on weekdays to take a pair of trains from the north side Rogers Park shelter to her school in the North Lawndale neighborhood, which is on the west side. She says she had a negative attitude that rubbed off on her three younger siblings.

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