WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Education

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."

Preschool is a key part of building a solid foundation for lifelong learning, some experts even say it’s 

Access to high-speed internet stops about seven miles east of both Nippersink School District 2 and Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157, according to Tom Lind. He’s the superintendent of both districts, located near the border of Wisconsin —  about 70 miles northwest of Chicago.

Severe Teacher Shortage in Western Illinois

Sep 13, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

Even though the new school year is underway, many school districts in the region are still trying to hire teachers. Regional Superintendent of Education John Meixner said almost every district downstate has struggled to fill vacant teaching positions.

Rauner Vetoes Teacher $40K Minimum Salary Bill

Aug 28, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill last weekend that would have raised the minimum salary for Illinois public school teachers to $40,000 by 2022. In his veto message, Rauner wrote that legislation isn’t the best way to raise teacher pay.

Online Learning Can Open Doors For Kids In Juvenile Jails

Aug 13, 2018

But the quality of online coursework is one of many concerns for advocates.

In the Farrington school district, near Mount Vernon, a new teacher makes less than $29,000 — even with a master’s degree. Farrington is one of the lowest-paying districts, but state officials say some 7,000 teachers statewide makes less than $40,000.

A new state law just approved by the legislature would change that.

One of the biggest changes Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed in today's budget address is making local school districts bear the costs of teacher pensions.

Illinois State Board of Education / Facebook

Last August, when Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed the historic school funding reform plan, the celebration was like the political version of a wedding. Lawmakers from both parties got dressed up, made lovely speeches, and posed for pictures next to that one cousin they never really liked.

Rich Egger

The West Prairie School District’s latest Impact 103 community engagement forum focused on the district's finances and facilities.  Earlier sessions focused on the community's concerns about the school district and the condition of the district's buildings.

Brian Mackey

If you have seen Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s campaign commercials, you might think the school funding issue was settled last summer. But as often happens with complex legislation, it was followed by a "trailer" bill cleaning up some technical language.

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