Maureen Foertsch McKinney

News Editor / Equity Blog

Read Maureen's "Equity" blog.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and 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.

Poverty rates for the biggest racial minority groups in Illinois are two to three times higher than those for whites.

Illinois Issues

Illinois’ longest-serving state Senate president died Friday. He was 78.

Philip Rock, a Democrat from Oak Park who had once given serious consideration to running for governor against Jim Thompson, took his seat in the Senate in 1971 and was elected to lead it in 1979. 

Office of State Rep. Tom Morrison

Legislation sponsored by a Northwest suburban lawmaker would require school boards to tell students they could only use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their sex. Males with males. Females with females.

Republican Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine says he sponsored the legislation to create an “objective standard."

"The vast majority of students are minors, and so it is appropriate that if they’re in school,  we need to make sure that we ensure their privacy within those changing areas.”

Office of Rep. Andre Thapedi

Chicago State University won’t have funds to operate by March 1 if  state money is not released, officials there have said.

Rep. Andre Thapedi, a Chicago Democrat,  has sponsored legislation to have $25 million from the state go to predominantly minority public colleges. That would effect Chicago State University and several community colleges. Those colleges have minority enrollment of at least 75 percent.

Thapedi  said he sponsored the legislation because schools with large minority populations are dealing with the most vulnerable students.

Morguefile

You are what you eat. Those with the worst eating habits face the most negative health consequences. So doctors, especially those with low-income patients,  should be asking questions and offering information about good nutrition.

Pew Research Center

  The middle class is no longer the nation’s economic majority. That is according to last week’s Pew Research Center analysis of government data, and a local economist says the trends for the nation are likely duplicated in Illinois.

Office of the comptroller

Domestic violence shelters were one of the social service groups hardest hit by the budget impasse. But $18 million for those 62 shelter agencies was among funds released through legislation passed last week.

Comptroller Leslie Munger recently explained to NPR Illinois what that means for the shelters.

The measure passed last week ordered the release of $3.1 billion, which includes payments to local governments, 911 energy phone services and Lottery winners. Those payments can be made because independent state funds are dedicated to those services, Munger says.

Nelson Chenault / The Clinton Foundation

The fatal shooting last year of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer rocked the celebrated Chicago poet and publisher Haki Madhubuti.

He was so disturbed, he says, that he couldn't sleep and rose at 4:30 a.m. to write. What would become the book Taking Bullets: Black People in the 21st Century America Fighting Terrorism, Fighting Violence and Seeking Healing is now in galley form for final proofing. 

Alex Wroblewski

Chicago writer Jamie Kalven focuses on patterns of police abuse and impunity in Chicago. He heard about an attempted cover up of the details in the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old wielding a  knife.

Housing Action Illinois

Estimates of the homeless populations in the state and the nation were released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, pointing to an 11 percent drop nationally and a slight decline in Illinois.

I talked with Bob Palmer, policy director at Illinois Housing Action, to find out more about those numbers.

Washington University in St. Louis

There are actions governors can take about their concerns over Syrian refugees, but keeping them out of their states — even temporarily — is not one.  So says the emeritus professor whose textbook on immigration is used by about 185 law schools in the country.

Valerie Everett

The first installment in a series on homelessness looks at a campaign to get the city and public schools to target the needs of homeless Chicago students.

UIS

University of Illinois Springfield researchers are taking an unusual tack at getting funds to do research. They have created a crowdfunding account to pay for testing kits. They plan to investigate hepatitis c in homeless people in central Illinois.

UIS professors Kanwal Alvarez and Josiah Alamu need to raise at least $500 and hope to get $2,000.

Alvarez says UIS researchers have not used the fundraising method previously.

Voices For Illinois Children, National Women's Law Center

Illinois fares poorly in a recent national report looking at access to child care assistance. In fact, the state ranks dead last after after cuts were made in July to drastically reduce maximum income levels for families to qualify. The report, by the Washington, D.C.-based National Women’s Policy Center, compared policies between the states as well as the District of Columbia.

UIS

  People in the transgender community deserve the same rights as anyone else. So said more than 80 percent of respondents in a national survey conducted by the

University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office.

A boarded up apartment building
Robert Loerzel / Illinois Issues

The Illinois poverty rate hovers above pre-recession levels at 14.4 percent, according to Census numbers released Thursday. In all, 1.8 million Illinoisans live in poverty.

Meanwhile, income in Illinois is stagnant even though job growth is up, according to numbers crunched by the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance.

This is likely a consequence of the state’s budget woes, says Kimberly Drew, an economic security specialist at the alliance.

Drew says cuts in social programs because of the budget impasse are likely to worsen the effects of poverty in the state.

Crayons and children's books
Donnie Nunnley

Limits on who is eligible for this Welfare-to-Work program sparked intense debate in Springfield.  But the fight isn’t over. 

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Just under 2 million people a year are fed by food banks in Illinois, according to the 2015 report of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger, which released its annual analysis last week.

Photograph by Yoshiko Dart / Access Living

Twenty-five years after the landmark federal law, people with disabilities in Illinois still have trouble getting hired.

Access Living

In July, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill calling for language that would create respectful references to people with disabilities throughout state law.

Wikipedia

Sunday marked the anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Recently, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an extensive story marking the occasion. To learn about that story and get an update on what’s happening in Ferguson, I talked with the story’s author, Kevin McDermott.

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. 

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