Education

Education and learning

"Teachers Pet" by Flickr User Matthew / (CC X 2.0)

The shakeup in Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office could signal a tougher stance on school funding.

The state spending plan requires adoption of a new funding formula, but Rauner has promised to veto the plan that got legislative approval; that’s because it includes money for Chicago teacher pensions.

This standoff might make the lawsuit filed by 20 school superintendents more relevant.  

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

In a maneuver some state lawmakers call a "booby trap," the spending plan approved last week says Illinois can't appropriate money for schools unless a new funding formula also wins approval. It ties K-12 dollars to something known as the "evidence-based model."

Both political parties endorse this model, which is based on each district's demographics. The Democrats' version has passed the House and the Senate; they haven't sent it to Gov. Bruce Rauner, however, because he has promised to veto it.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Sycamore High School officials will reach out to students next fall about their most recent attempt to customize education for their students.

What started as an effort to create bus-route efficiency throughout the Sycamore school district developed into a customized learning initiative for Sycamore High School students, according to school officials. Supt. Kathy Countryman says the focus shifted after the district received community input.

Dusty Rhodes/NPR Illinois

More than a dozen school leaders from across Illinois gathered at the state capitol Wednesday to thank lawmakers who went out on a limb to raise taxes and send more money to schools. They held signs and banners saying “thank you.” However, gratitude wasn’t their only motive.

If you deal with children, you're probably familiar with the concept of positive reinforcement. You reward children for good behavior as a way to encourage them to continue doing it.

Students Aim To Become The Face Of NIU

Jun 26, 2017
Austin Hansen / WNIJ

Do you ever wonder how someone becomes the face of a university? The process might be easier than it seems.

Northern Illinois University is holding a summer casting call for students who are interested in representing life as a Huskie in upcoming publications (photographs, videos, social media posts, etc.).

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

For some kids, summer means packing your shorts and bug spray and heading off to camp. For some local teachers, camp means early morning lectures and late night discussions about race, gender, and privilege. At least it did last week at Northern Illinois University. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens stopped by Social Justice Summer Camp for this week’s Friday Forum.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University officials say the school spent more than $180,000 for outside legal counsel to handle an investigation by the state Office of the Executive Inspector General into hiring at NIU.

NIU officials say the cost of outside legal counsel reflects 320 total hours worked by nine people in the outside firm. That calculates to more than $560 per hour.

NIU Newsroom

The planet Mars may have been wetter than previously thought, according to a new study led by a Northern Illinois University geography professor and released Monday in the journal Nature Communications.

niu.edu / afscme.org

Northern Illinois University may have to reimburse some of its union-member employees for a parking pass fee increase. That’s if the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board sides with AFSCME in a final ruling.

NIU raised its parking prices by $19 as of July 2016. At the time, the university had been negotiating a first contract with a new bargaining unit of the state employee union since February 2016, according to IELRB documents.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

Lawmakers of both parties -- and even Gov. Bruce Rauner -- agree that Illinois doesn't fund schools in an equitable manner.

 

But a bill that would overhaul the way Illinois funds public schools passed a procedural hurdle Wednesday with bipartisan support.

 

Rockford Public Schools

Two Rockford public high schools made the national Washington Post Most Challenging High Schools list this year.

Auburn High School ranked 13th in Illinois, and Guilford High School was 53rd in the state -- and both made the top 2,000 in the country.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Democratic State Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill is accusing Gov. Bruce Rauner of trying to kill his school-funding legislation.

  

He says the administration fed erroneous information to a Republican operative's website.

 

The story appears in the Kankakee Times, one of a dozen community news organs created by Dan Proft, who runs a political action committee supported by Rauner.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's chief education adviser says the governor won't support an overhaul of the Illinois school-funding formula if it benefits Chicago Public Schools "at the expense" of others.

The Illinois Senate approved legislation Wednesday aimed at eliminating the disparity in spending between affluent school districts and those serving poorer communities. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House.

Both Democratic proposals would establish a funding target for each school district that reflects the needs of its students.

ilcampaign.org

Higher education has been among the areas feeling the state budget impasse as funding has been cut.  It has forced some schools to reduce classes, lay off employees and, in some cases, close for several days.

But a review of enrollment indicates small and mid-sized public universities are taking a double hit.  

Dusty Rhodes/NPR Illinois

Commencement ceremonies took place on many college campuses this past weekend, including the University of Illinois, where a popular TV star spoke to graduates.

But the Black Congratulatory ceremony at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana was particularly unique. 

Diane Drake / WNIJ

Thirty current Northern Illinois University employees will lose their jobs next fiscal year as part of the university efforts to set aside $35 million in reserve for the next fiscal year, President Doug Baker announced Monday in a “Campus Update” email.

More than half the reserve fund -- $20 million – is being achieved through “increased support from the NIU Foundation and the re-examination of all university operating budgets,” according to Baker’s email. The remaining $15 million will come from “revenue enhancements” and cuts in various university divisions.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

NIU held a tribute concert Sunday to honor Cliff Alexis, who joined the university’s school of music in 1985.

Alexis helped establish steelpan studies as a major at NIU. 

He’s originally from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; it's where he started playing the steelpan at age 14.

“When I was young, most people gravitate toward the steel pan, especially coming from where I came from," he said. "I came from an underprivileged neighborhood, and that was one of the things to do.”

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois school districts in the East Saint Louis area are raising student fees and even considering a shorter school year as state education funding continues to be held up by the long-running Illinois budget crisis.

More than 400 Illinois school leaders statewide are calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state legislature to pass a budget -- in addition to a lawsuit asking the state to give schools what they were promised.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hosts a statewide school visit Thursday … but maybe not in the way you think.

Gov. Rauner invited school classrooms across Illinois to join him during his visit. This time around, though, his visit will be through a Facebook Live stream.

WNIJ/Susan Stephens

Anthony Dixon won the race for a seat on the Rockford School Board with a Queen of Clubs.  

Eight write-in candidates battled it out for the sub-district A seat in the April 4 election.

Tuesday, the winner was determined by flipping over two playing cards at the Winnebago County Administration Building in Rockford.

According to letters sent to Dixon and fellow write-in candidate Brandi Brown, a total of 517 ballots cast for the eight write-in candidates in the April 4 election resulted in a tie.

Diane Drake / WNIJ

About 100 Northern Illinois University students, faculty, and staff will have the chance to give direct feedback on their President.

The move is part of what President Doug Baker calls a “360-degree review” of his performance.  He's evaluated annually by the Board of Trustees but, this year, both Baker and university officials want more detailed feedback.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

New information about Illinois senate Republicans’ school funding plan were revealed Wednesday.

One week after State Sen. Jason Barickman held a press conference to announce his own school funding plan, he filed two amendments totaling 500 pages. Barickman’s plan echoes many of the themes contained in a measure filed by his Democratic colleague Andy Manar but eliminates the block grant for Chicago Public Schools​.

His plan also offers school districts a choice about certain unfunded mandates. The two senators had tried previously to craft a bipartisan plan.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

On Monday afternoon, a multi-disciplinary group of Northern Illinois University faculty will hold a panel discussion on “Brexit, Nationalism and Extremism: The Future of Europe" in the Cole Hall Auditorium. It’s part of a new series that promotes interaction between researchers in different areas, and with an audience of students from across the NIU campus, graduates and the larger community. 

uis.edu

Back when it was called Sangamon State University, the Springfield campus had a faculty union.

But since joining the University of Illinois system, professors have been without a bargaining unit. For more than a year, they’ve been trying to get an agreement that would retain the rights they had before.

Now, frustrated by the slow pace of talks, they’ve voted to authorize a strike.

Kristi Barnwell, a history professor, says negotiations have thus far been more about grievance procedures and tenure, than dollars and cents.

A national search for the new head of the Northern Illinois University Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships has found a resolution on campus.

Dr. Gerald Blazey, a physicist who came to NIU in 1996 and has served as interim vice president of the division for the past two years, is the choice to take the chair officially on May 16, pending approval of the NIU Board of Trustees.

STEM Read Draws Hundreds Of Young Readers To NIU

Apr 11, 2017

 

The floor of the NIU Convocation Center was filled with 800 kids, from third through eighth grade, along with more than 100 teachers and parents. Gillian King-Cargile, Director of STEM Read at Northern Illinois University explained the theme:

 

"Controller gaming" by Flickr User Anton Porsche / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois College will become one of a small group of higher-education institutions offering scholarships for playing video games.

The Herald & Review reports that the growth of esports, or competitive video games, has colleges and universities developing teams to compete as prizes are growing and sponsors are taking notice. The program begins in the fall.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Earlier this year, the Chicago Rockford International Airport celebrated the opening of two hangars big enough to maintain the largest aircraft ever built. At the same time, a program expanded to teach students how to keep these planes flying.

Rock Valley College is a two-year institution that serves students across Winnebago, Boone and surrounding counties. Like many community colleges, it has degree programs in a variety of technical fields, but one of their more unique offerings is aircraft maintenance.

Southern Illinois University trustees are discussing what to do about the cash crunch on the Carbondale campus.

President Randy Dunn proposed $30 million in cuts to SIUC and borrowing from SIU Edwardsville. He says the state’s budget crisis is hurting the Carbondale campus, but also has problems of its own.

“They’ve also been living for many years with a structural deficit that hasn’t been corrected," he says. "In the most simplistic way possible, describing it as having too many programs for now too few students.”

Developing Future Engineers -- One Cool Bracelet At A Time

Apr 6, 2017
Northern Illinois University / http://www.niu.edu/stem/programs/divas.shtml

STEM Divas is a weekly event at Northern Illinois University designed to help engage young women more in the sciences.

Jasmine Carey is a student organizer of the event. She says it’s a fun way to get more young people interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through mixing fashion and electrical engineering. How? “They have LEDs and circuits," Carey says. "They’re completing circuits on a bracelet, and the LEDs will light up at the end of the circuit.”

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