Education Desk

US CPSC/flickr

A bill awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature would require Illinois schools to install carbon monoxide detectors.

One Monday morning last fall, some students and teachers at North Mac Middle School in Girard weren’t feeling well. The health teacher, Alan Love, who also happens to be a registered nurse, told superintendent Marica Cullen the school might have a gas leak.


The American Association of University Professors voted today to censure the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state’s flagship university. Censure is a means of informing the academic community worldwide that the administration of an institution “has not adhered to generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.”

A couple of years ago, two people in Urbana were hit by darts fired from a blow-dart gun. They weren't seriously injured. That’s not what this story is about.  

The attacks were so random, and frankly so weird, that most people found them humorous. One of those happened to be a middle-school teacher, who posted a comment on Facebook.

Timothy Killeen will make this announcement today, in a speech at the City Club of Chicago. 

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

A plan awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner's signature would overhaul the way schools handle discipline. We wanted to meet some of the young activists behind the legislation. 

Timothy Killeen
Bill Wheelhouse / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Timothy Killeen, the new president of the University of Illinois, met with reporters on the Springfield campus last week. Flanked by the chancellors of the university’s three campuses, Killeen said they were touring the state as part of a strategic planning process that would culminate next spring in a “statement of shared vision.”


May 21, 2015
Milo Skalicky / for WUIS


School administrators are typically too polite to say “Told ya so!” but they have every right to when it comes to the PARCC test -- the new standardized test associated with the Common Core curriculum. The chief complaint about the test, implemented this year, was that it took 10 hours. Schools had to suspend their normal schedules for up to a month at a time, as they shuttled classes into and out of computer labs. One section was given in March, and another in May, making a double dose of disruption.

Students at statehouse.
Joanna Klonsky / VOYCE

A measure that would limit the way schools hand out discipline has made its way through the Illinois legislature and is awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner's signature.

David Wilson / davidwilson1949 via

Governor Bruce Rauner's proposed 40 percent cut in Amtrak funding drew objections from 16 university and municipal officials on Tuesday morning. 

 Schools as small as Spoon River College and as large as the University of Illinois flagship in Urbana-Champaign rely on Amtrak trains to bring their students to campus. They say the cut would reduce services and negatively affect enrollment at all downstate schools.  

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS-Illinois Issues

These days, it seems like every agency in Illinois is complaining about cutbacks. Public school officials, however, are seasoned veterans, having seen the state slash their funding repeatedly over the past few years. Now, they argue how the pain is distributed.

WUIS Education Desk logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

All signs point to more charter schools in our future. So I got a crash course from Christopher Lubienski. Click below to listen.

Illinois State Senator Pat McGuire headshot

High school students taking advanced placement exams know they have to score at least a 3 on a 5-point scale to pass. What they don't know is which Illinois universities will give them credit for that score.

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.

President Barack Obama
The White House

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included a proposal to grant free tuition for some community college students. Dubbed America’s College Promise, it’s the kind of idea that had a chorus of Illinois officials lining up to sing its praises.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

One of the few areas not threatened with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget ax today was public school education. But at a conference of school leaders, reaction was lukewarm. 

This is a story you have to hear. Click below to listen:

Dusty Rhodes

Governor Bruce Rauner was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at a meeting of public school leaders today in Springfield. Instead, he sent his new education czar.  

Beth Purvis, a member of Gov. Rauner's transition team, had been in office just about two hours. In fact, her exact title hadn't been determined. But for the past 10 years, Purvis has been the CEO of the Chicago International Charter School. 


Police officers have used pepper spray at least 110 times in Alabama public schools, often for infractions of school rules (disrespectful comments, minor skirmishes) rather than actual criminal behavior. The decision on a class-action lawsuit that would allow police to continue this practice is expected today.

Read the story here:

A group of volunteers are working to bring a skill to youth in the juvenile justice system that could give them an edge in the workforce.

Tinkerers and the technologically savvy have been using 3-D printing for years to make models, parts and just about anything. The printers rapidly manufacture items from a set of instructions. They typically render in plastic, but they can make things out of metal and other materials, too.

That's the take from Mike Klonsky.

Read more HERE

In mid-January, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennet decided to take a stand against the Common Core test known as the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), announcing that it would be administered in only 10 percent of CPS schools and asking for a one-year delay in fully implementing the test.


Dusty Rhodes

When it comes to funding public schools, Illinois ranks near the bottom for equity. Legislation designed to change that stalled last session. Lawmakers are revising it to try again.

To understand the differences in school funding across Illinois, consider this partial list of art classes available at New Trier Township High School, in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka.

There’s ceramics, drawing and painting, glass art, photography, sculpture, video art, and even animation.

  Even as Illinois runs ever shorter on cash, the board of education is asking for $730 million increase in state funding.

Illinois' superintendent of schools is well aware of the state's financial strain. Christopher Koch has been in charge as over the past several years, the state has failed to come through with all the money it's supposed to give to meet local district's basic needs.

But, Koch says, "education is the smartest investment we can make in the economic future of our state."

Incoming University of Illinois system president Timothy Killeen says he's negotiating to begin his new job earlier than his official July 1 start date.  

Killeen tells the Chicago Sun-Times ( he'll be a regular presence on the University of Illinois campuses ``and the start date might move forward.'' Killeen is replacing the retiring university President Robert Easter. He didn't give an exact date but says he hopes to start work in late spring.  


Community Colleges do more than simply of for-credit classes.  They are a place where personal enrichment can be discovered. 

Jamie Stout is the Community Education Director for Lincoln Land Community College. She joined WUIS' Sean Crawford to talk more about some of the offerings, ranging from culinary classes to ghost hunting. 

Jamey Dunn headshot 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Listen to Dunn's interview about her column with Rachel Otwell: 

Sexual Assault: The Nationwide Campus Crisis Hits Home In Illinois

Nov 1, 2014

Veronica Portillo Heap became an advocate for sexual assault survivors as a sophomore at the University of Chicago. She got an email from a group of students organizing The UChicago Clothesline Project, which offers survivors a chance to tell their stories on T-shirts in an annual art installation. Portillo Heap was not a survivor herself, but she thought getting involved as an organizer with The Clothesline Project would be worth her time.

Tim Lloyd/St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the third part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in classrooms across the St. Louis region.

In Riverview Gardens High School’s library, students have formed small groups. For many of the kids here, peaceful demonstrations and at times violent clashes between police and protesters weren’t just on TV; they were down the street, around the corner or in their backyards.

Tim Lloyd/St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the second part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in classrooms across the St. Louis region. 

From pulpits to protests, a wide cross section of St. Louis’ religious leaders has been deeply involved with demonstrations following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9. And for some teachers at religious schools in St. Louis, talking with students about the protests in Ferguson and Brown’s death is about more than education -- it’s a matter of faith.

It was early September and Vincent Flewellen had just wrapped up his day teaching at Ladue Middle School.

“It was a pretty day,” Flewellen remembered. “I had a great day here at Ladue Middle School. I was really in a good mood.”

But Flewellen knew he could be in for a heavy night.

Less than four weeks had passed since Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown. And Flewellen, who is African American, was on his way to an event at Saint Louis University designed to help teachers unpack complicated issues of race and class.

flickr: EdenJanineJim

Getting more kids into pre-school might not solve all the problems, but there is mounting evidence that it can help ensure a child gets off to a good start. 

However, some communities struggle to get more youngsters into early learning.  

The Education Coalition of Macon County has studied the issue there and found some pressing needs when it comes to early childhood education. 

Sarah Bjelland is the group's Research and Data Manager.