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

About Funders

courtesy of Mt. Carmel High School

Rehearsing her students for the big spring musical, Kim Mandrell has crossed two huge worries off her list: She's decided not to have Mary Poppins fly - and this year, for the first time ever, she doesn't have to fret about the safety of the audience.

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:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/birmingham-school-police-trial-splc

Dusty Rhodes

 

Five babies at a day care center in Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago, have the measles. These infants were vulnerable because they are all under the age of 1, and therefore too young to get the measles vaccine. It’s the latest in a rash of cases that have shown up in about a dozen states -- focusing new attention on families who choose not to vaccinate their children.

 

 

The Springfield school board took a close look at its budget Monday night, and discovered that it’s either $3 million in the black, or $3 million in the red.

 

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.

 

Senator Andy Manar, pushing for an overhaul of school funding, shared a draft of his revised bill with the Associate Press. Click HERE to read the story.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has declared that only 66 of her 6,000 schools will participate in PARCC testing this spring. That's because the kids don't have enough access to technology to do their best on an online test. HERE's the Chicago Tribune story. She does plan to fully-implement the test next year, and continue with the Common Core curriculum.

Illinois State Board of Education

When the Illinois State Board of Education met yesterday in Springfield, there was a new chairman running the agenda.

 

 

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.

Click HERE to see the complete results for District 186.

And check back for data specific to each school.

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees announced today that its previous decision not to hire Steven Salaita was final and will not be reconsidered. 

Last summer, Salaita had been offered, and accepted, a tenured position at the U. of I., but the Board of Trustees refused to approve his hiring after learning that he had posted numerous tweets criticizing Israel during the conflict with Gaza. Some of these tweets used profanity, and U. of I. Chancellor Phyllis Wise deemed some of them "hate speech."

Democratic state Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Just before leaving office yesterday, now-former Governor Pat Quinn signed a slew of bills. One of those bills spells out when the state can take over a school district. 

Before this bill became law, the Illinois State Board of Education was theoretically required to intervene when any school district spent at least three years on the academic watch list. That’s about a hundred districts, but the board has neither the resources nor the desire to take such drastic action in so many schools.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has more Chinese students than any other university in the nation. The journal Inside Higher Ed takes an in-depth look at what life is like for these students, and how they're changing UIUC. The comments that follow are also interesting reading.

I worked on the UIUC campus for three years, and this article taught me things I did not know.

 

For the first time in two decades, the University of Illinois plans to hold basic tuition rates steady for the upcoming school term. But that proposal, adopted by the U. of I. budget committee on January 5, comes with a caveat.

 

Dusty Rhodes headshot
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." 

EDUCATION DESK
Dusty Rhodes

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.

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