Education Desk

The Education Desk is our education blog focusing on key areas of news coverage important to the state and its improvement.  Evidence of public policy performance and impact will be reported and analyzed.  We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of education from pre-natal to Higher Ed:

Dusty Rhodes curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.

Additional Education Coverage

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news.illinois.edu

Here is Chancellor Phyllis Wise's full statement in response to the report of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure's analysis of the university's handling of Steven Salaita's dismissal:

    

  Bruce Rosenstock, president of the Campus Faculty Association at the University of Illinois, said the report released today by the school’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure is a “bombshell and a game changer” that will force university officials to revisit their decision to not hire controversial professor Steven Salaita.

Dusty Rhodes

 

Watching her daughter play volleyball, April Standage sounds like any good sports mom. She keeps an eye on the refs, she encourages the players, and she keeps a mental tally of the score. And like any good sports mom, she would much rather watch the game than talk to a reporter.

It turns out that Standage has loved sports all her life. Starting in middle school, she played volleyball and basketball, threw the shotput and discus, and ran the 4-by-200 in track. Her 15-year-old daughter, however, is just now discovering sports. 

Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

 

Illinois schools are preparing to implement a new standardized test based on the Common Core standards. Some school districts have pleaded with state officials to delay the implementation of the new test, but Springfield school officials say they're ready.

Educators refer to this new test as the PARCC test. That’s the acronym for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It’s a standardized test, designed by the Pearson company, that will be given to most Illinois students beginning in March.

isbe.state.il.us

If you want to get an idea of how controversial the new Common Core standardized test is, consider this: The number of states that have legalized marijuana use (23) is double the number of states that have agreed to use this test (11). Only eight of the 11 states signed on have agreed to use both the elementary and high school portions of the test. Illinois is one of these states.

Dusty Rhodes

The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education held a lengthy hearing this week on a bill that would drastically change the way Illinois distributes state education funds. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar of Macoupin County, would send more money to schools where property values are low, while decreasing the amount sent to schools in wealthier Chicago suburbs. 

The grand jury decision is expected any day now in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. In anticipation of that announcement, Springfield school officials have issued instructions on how to handle students' reactions.

Illinois new report cards on public schools become available online today. But parents hoping to find a simple snapshot of how their kids' school measures up might be in for a surprise.

Thanks to a federal waiver received in April, Illinois schools are no longer judged by whether students have achieved "adequate yearly progress" -- the standard set by No Child Left Behind.

When you think of a report card, you think of a basic form that provides average test scores and little more. But the new online report cards for each Illinois public school offer more granular data, such as teacher retention and principal turnover rates, the percentage of high school freshmen deemed "on track" for graduation, and even survey results for how safe students feel at school.

Illinois is one of only 10 states where students are not required to take a civics course. A task force of legislators and educators now recommends that students learn not just the history of government, but how to participate in it. 

The Papers Of Abraham Lincoln

With the rise of computers and electronic communications, educators have all but written off penmanship. And kids who don’t learn to write cursive tend to have trouble reading cursive. 

Last week, I went around torturing teenagers. I handed them a copy of a letter, written on stationery from the Executive Mansion and dated April 5, 1864. The letter is addressed to Mrs. Horace Mann.

It was especially challenging for 18-year-old Edwin Robles. 

“I’m sorry, I’m really bad at cursive. Like horrible at it," Robles said. "Why? Is this like a test?”

WILL

The University of Illinois Springfield Campus Senate today/Friday passed a measure aimed at protecting academic freedom.

WILL

On Friday, the Campus Senate of the University of Illinois at Springfield will take up a strongly-worded resolution written in the aftermath of the Board of Trustees' controversial dismissal of Steven Salaita. 

He's the professor whose job offer at the university's main campus was rescinded after his critical and sometimes profane tweets about the Israeli conflict with Gaza.

UIS Senate chair Jorge Villegas said the resolution is in response to the Board's position that tenure comes with a requirement of civility.

Governor Quinn spent much of his State of the State address on Wednesday addressing education. He says investing in education is a sure way to grow jobs as well as the economy. It's a sentiment that's hard to argue with. His focus on early education was an echo of President Obama's own emphasis on the subject in his last two State of the Union addresses, and Quinn has also previously pushed the idea of making pre-K more widely available. New this year though, Quinn says he wants to double the amount of MAP scholarships offered, which help low-income students attend state universities.

wuis

Illinois labor unions have filed a lawsuit seeking a new plan to reduce the state's $100 billion pension shortfall declared unconstitutional.  

The We Are One Illinois Coalition of public employee unions filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Sangamon County Circuit court.  
The long-anticipated legal challenge comes weeks after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measure into law and ahead of his annual State of the State address.  

The UIS team name will remain the same, after over a year of discussions on whether or not to change it. A consultant group hired by the university came up with suggestions like  the Springers, Sabers, and Mammoths. The consultant group cost the university nearly $20,000. After putting together a task force and soliciting the opinions of students, alumni, and faculty, a decision has been made. UIS Chancellor Susan Koch told WUIS, "Prairie Stars may not be the perfect name, but it's our name. And it's been our name since the 1970s ...

LLCC

When the Crown III coal mine south of Springfield recently closed, Lincoln Land Community College stepped in. The school's truck driver training has offered special classes to displaced workers.  President Charlotte Warren says the classes are full, although more could be held.  

It's one example of services offered at Lincoln Land.   Warren says the college provides academic offerings for students who plan to go on for a baccalaureate degree, dual credit classes for some high schoolers and specialized programs to serve the community.

http://schoolchoiceweek.com

 Ask any teacher, superintendent, or government official about it and many would say education funding is in need of some serious change. Local districts are struggling to make ends meet as state and federal appropriations drop - and that means layoffs, school closures, and even shortening the school day in some cases. Some education reform activists say the answer to fixing this problem and others within the system is something called "school choice."

Some Amtrak trains are not running today in downstate Illinois.

  School Closings for Monday Jan. 27

A-C Central

Athens

Auburn

Ball Chatham

Bradley University

Calvary Academy

Decatur

Edinburg

Greenview

Illinois State University

Jacksonville

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln public schools

Lincoln College

New Berlin

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Robert Morris University

Sangamon Valley

Major changes are happening in public education in North Carolina.

Last year, the legislature passed laws that did away with teacher tenure, ended extra pay for teachers who earn master’s degrees and created a voucher system for low-income students.

Analysts who watch education policy say no other state made more changes that affect schools in 2013 than North Carolina did.

wikimedia commons

Education shows up in recommendations from the Sangamon County Citizens' Efficiency Commission.  A focus is on transportation, a costly part of school budgets.  

The commission recommends increased collaboration between District 186 and the Springfield Mass Transit District. From the report:

http://www.state.il.us/court/

 The Illinois Supreme Court says a southern Illinois school district can't sue an architectural firm for building a school over an underground coal mine that later collapsed, causing the school to be torn down. In a unanimous decision, justices ruled Friday that Gillespie Community School District's "fraudulent representation'' claims against Wight & Company came after a statute of limitations passed.

flickr/skakerman

The question of assuring equitable school funding across the state is being debated at a forum for Republican candidates for governor.
 
The four bidders are squaring off at a forum hosted by Illinois Public Broadcasters and the League of Women Voters.  

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