WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Education

The Seizure Smart School Act, is a new law in Illinois that requires schools to train employees and care aides on how to handle students with epilepsy, and how to administer their medications.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the country.

Courtesy of Dominican University

Even before the pandemic began, Lisbeth Hernandez says she was exhausted. Hernandez is heading into her senior year at Dominican University, a small Catholic college in Chicago’s western suburbs. 

Illinois recently released guidelines for schools to return in-person this fall. Some concerned parents are choosing to homeschool their kids this year rather than send them back to in-person classes during COVID-19.

Brandi Poreda has homeschooled three of her kids over the last 20 years. She said the biggest advantage of homeschooling is flexibility.

Her first piece of advice to parents homeschooling for the first time? Don’t try to replicate the public school classroom experience.

Governor Releases Fall Plans for Schools And Colleges

Jun 24, 2020

Governor J.B. Pritzker wants to see kids in the classroom this fall.  He released guidance Tuesday for students returning to school and college.

A list of health and safety guidelines for getting students back in classrooms is scheduled to be released before the end of the month. It will provide rules and recommendations for more than 850 school districts resuming classes this fall.

ELINERIJPERS / VIA FLICKR CC BY 2.0

Illinois schools are now able to welcome students back for some types of in-person learning during the summer. The State Board of Education has issued guidance to districts to offer several programs.

School districts across the state have been resourceful in coming up with ways to honor their high school graduates, as health regulations prohibit the typical ceremonies.  But some of those plans ran into roadblocks with the governor’s office and the Illinois State Board of Education. 

Lisa Marlow is worried about her students. Marlow is a school nurse and educator with the Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186. 

The district serves primarily low-income students in a rural part of southern Illinois. 

When school is in session, Marlow says having eyes on students, especially those with chronic conditions like Type 1 diabetes or asthma, is crucial.

Families often count on their local school districts to provide two meals a day for their kids. But with school buildings closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, getting meals to students can be a challenge, especially in rural areas.

Rural families also often find it difficult to drive many miles to see if the grocery store has restocked needed items.

Courtesy of Lindsey Jensen

About half of Gladys Marquez's students can't access the internet at home. Marquez teaches English language learners at Dwight Eisenhower High School in Blue Island on Chicago's south side. The school serves predominantly students of color from low-income backgrounds. 

A high score on the SAT or ACT is no longer required for admission to more than a dozen four-year colleges and universities in Illinois. As of last week, that includes Northern Illinois University, which will now accept a high school GPA of 3.0 for admission.

 

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Western Illinois University, and many private colleges had already adopted similar policies. They’re all part of a growing movement.

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Documents illustrate what happens when a student is put in an isolation room.

It’s a few minutes before 10 a.m. and a student at Circuit Breaker School in Peru, Illinois is trying to escape the classroom. The child hits and kicks the glass window on the door, and doesn’t respond well to redirection and choices offered by staff. So staff takes the student to the timeout room, where the child screams and hits their head against the floor for two minutes.

A suburban Chicago school teacher is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to agree she can use her paid sick days for maternity leave. The catch? Her baby was born in June, on the last full day of the school year. The teacher wanted to use her remaining 28 paid sick days at the start of the following school year. 

 

Adam Dauksas, an attorney representing the school district, told the court that interpretation disconnects the leave from the birth, and could have absurd results.

Over the past six months I have had the wonderful opportunity to talk with area high school students.  My research in studying the rural teacher shortage crisis through the perceptions of high school students was a natural extension of my commitment to teaching.  As of October 2019, according to the Illinois State Board of Education there were reportedly over 4,000 unfilled positions in our Illinois public schools. Most of them are classroom teachers; many of them in rural school districts. Implications of this shortage are wide-reaching for rural schools that struggle to recruit and retain qualified teachers as positions remain unfilled or are subject to frequent turnover.

Spencer Tritt/Northern Public Radio - WNIJ

High school students through the decades have sweated over the college admissions tests, the ACT and the SAT.  Now, more and more schools are not requiring applicants to take the standardized tests.

Governor J-B Pritzker says he's "appalled" by reports of forced student isolation in Illinois schools and promised immediate action.

The Illinois State Board of Education yesterday released its new report card. That name makes it sound like gives schools a grade, which it does. But there’s much more to it than that. Here are five things you need to know about the Illinois Report Card:  

Monday – Friday, September 23 – 27, 2019 | unknown precisely (during ME/AE):
Enrollment Exodus, 5-Part Series from Illinois Public Radio stations
(details, TBD)

"Aid To Injury" by MAMC Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Dianne Gordon, a mom who lives in Champaign, knew something was wrong with her daughter Rory the minute she stepped off the school bus one afternoon in April. 

COURTESY OF REPMMURPHY.COM

Pleasant Plains is a small but prosperous town about 15 minutes northwest of Springfield. Its schools are all rated "commendable," and their test results outshine state averages in every subject.

Pleasant Plains is a small but prosperous town about 15 minutes northwest of Springfield. Its schools are all rated “commendable,” and their test results outshine state averages in every subject.

And yet, in March, the high school principal, Luke Brooks, asked Illinois lawmakers to stop requiring algebra.

Last year, a school nurse in East Moline faced a moral dilemma when a diabetic student lost consciousness in her office. Now she’s trying to make sure no other school nurse has to face the same tough choice.

Low blood sugar can usually be cured with orange juice and a granola bar. But those snacks and glucose tabs weren’t helping the 7th grader sitting in Jennifer Jacobs’ office.

“Her blood sugar kept falling, and we kept pushing the snacks,” Jacobs says.

Almost two years after Illinois overhauled its school funding formula, educators are still trying to tie up a few loose ends that got overlooked in the 540-page legislation. One of those loose ends omitted funding for about 7,000 students.

Those kids are the ones who need what's called "alternative school," because they've struggled with discipline or truancy, and fallen behind. Many alternative schools are run by regional offices, rather than traditional school districts. And those regional offices weren't incorporated in the overhaul plan.

In highly politicized times such as these, teachers are often warned to remain neutral in the classroom. But at a public primary school in Kewanee, Illinois, one art teacher is showing kids it’s their duty to speak out about injustices.

Perry Cline’s story is a remarkable one. He’s a formerly incarcerated 51-year-old man who overcame the odds to graduate from the University of Illinois last month.

New Illinois Laws in 2019

Jan 2, 2019

State lawmakers approved hundreds of changes that are now Illinois law.

Guns, hemp, and stalking are among the themes of the more than 250 new Illinois laws signed by Governor Bruce Rauner that took effect on New Year’s Day.

We took a look at some of the biggest changes to come out of Springfield in the past year, and how they'll affect life in the Prairie State in 2019.

A national survey this past year showed how in the dark many people are when it comes to understanding who runs their state government and what they’re up to.

A new report says Illinois lacks comprehensive guidelines when it comes to dealing with sexual misconduct cases in elementary and high schools.

Rich Egger

After years of studies and planning, the Macomb School District officially announced it will build a new middle school. The school will be built on a nearly nine-acre site just south of the high school. The district is buying the land from Maple Avenue Christian Church for $160,000.

The Illinois State Board of Education has unveiled a new labeling system for schools, with roughly 550 Illinois schools now being tagged "under-performing," and another 200 called "lowest performing."

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