Education

Education and learning

Lydia Urban Academy

The Lydia Urban Academy is in danger of closing its doors before the end of the school year.    

The nontraditional Christian high school serves about 20 students with social, behavioral, and learning disabilities that make it difficult for them to succeed in a traditional setting.  Some are escaping from bullying, while others are referred by Rosecrance Health Network or the state juvenile detention system. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Northern Illinois University campus community got a look Monday at the next phase of a plan that will shape the campus for years to come. It’s called Program Prioritization, and it’s a review of all academic and administrative programs at NIU.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Imagine an object that could help some students improve their attendance. Other students will learn leadership skills. Still others will discover how to become valuable employees some day. And everyone smells better.

That object? A basket of laundry. A humble chore is changing lives in one high school.

Beloit Memorial High School looks a lot like the old factories that sprawl across this city just north of  the Illinois/Wisconsin border. It’s huge.

November marked the beginning of enrollment for the state's prepaid tuition plan, called College Illinois!

The punctuation is part of the registered trademark.  But despite the clever branding, excitement about the plan seems to be waning, thanks to the ongoing state budget impasse. Eric Zarnikow, director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, says contract sales fell to just 500 last year, down from 650 the year before.

WNIJ News invites you to gain real-world journalism experience in a professional newsroom.

Learn about news reporting and production as well as the spirit that drives good journalism in the “Public Radio 101” seminar.

WNIJ News professionals again are offering a three-session introductory, noncredit seminar at the start of the 2017 NIU Spring semester from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on three successive Mondays -- Jan. 23, Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 -- at the NIU Broadcast Center, 801 N. First Street, DeKalb.

Seminar topics include:

WNIJ News

A total of 12 participants completed the inaugural WNIJ News “Public Radio 101” seminar, held over the September evenings at the Northern Illinois University Broadcast Center.

The class included two students from Kishwaukee College and two NIU staff members as well as eight NIU students at various stages of pursuing degrees in the communications field. All of them expressed interest in pursuing careers in the journalism or communications fields.

Flickr user Adikos / "Female Typing" (CC BY 2.0)

Three school districts are going into their second year for a three-year state e-learning day trial program. But they ran into an obstacle in monitoring the progress of the program.

All three districts participating in the trial program have not been able to use any e-learning days. That’s because superintendents from Gurnee School District 56, Community High School District 94 in West Chicago, and Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park say they didn’t use any snow days last school year.

State Report Card Shows Students Fall Short Of Academic Benchmarks

Oct 31, 2016
State of Illinois

The Illinois State Board of Education releases its 2016 report cards today. They analyze how well the state’s public schools are educating Illinois students. 

More than 60 percent of students failed to meet state benchmarks in math and English. That’s according to results from the second year using the standardized test known as PARCC.

Board of Education analyst John Barker says PARCC gives Illinois a clearer picture of the state’s challenges.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Imagine a presidential debate that is civil and about issues. That’s what happened Friday at Jefferson High School in Rockford, where students Andrea Stout and Haifa Ali debated.

They weren’t pretending to be the current presidential candidates: Instead, they represented the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties.

The two candidates answered questions about immigration, voting rights, higher education, and the economy.

Need Help With College Funds? File Your FAFSA Now!

Oct 10, 2016
LinkedIn

Illinois hasn't set aside any money to pay for the Monetary Award Program grants that help lower-income students go to college, but students still should hurry to fill out financial aid forms. 

That’s because some financial aid is awarded on more than just the basis of need.

Lynne Baker, with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, says students need to submit the Free Application For Federal Student Aid – known as FAFSA -- to qualify for state programs too. That form can be completed online.

A Kane County judge dismissed on Thursday morning a stalking/no contact order filed against DeKalb District 428 Superintendent Doug Moeller.

An emergency stalking ordered filed by DeKalb High School principal Michele Albano on Sept. 19 will expire on its own terms.

According to court records, Albano failed to appear in court Thursday morning. Superintendent Moeller, along with his lawyers and several witnesses did appear in court before the dismissal.

Northern Illinois University

There are a few points to take note of in Northern Illinois University’s most recent safety and security report.

NIU police chief Tom Phillips said last year the goal was to crack down on illegal drug use and violent crime. According to this year’s Clery Act report, there were noticeably fewer judicial referrals for drugs, weapons and alcohol in 2015 than there were the year before.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform recently compared enrollment data of Illinois public colleges and universities against similar schools in six neighboring states. 

Enrollment at the state's three largest public universities increased -- but just barely. The biggest gain was at the University of Illinois flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign, at 1.8%.  

Moody's Investors Service downgraded the debt of Chicago Public Schools on the same day district teachers threatened to strike.

The group downgraded CPS's debt from B2 to B3, and called the district's financial condition "precarious" and "acute."  Monday from B2 to B3, Moody's called CPS' financial condition "precarious" and "acute." The new rating is one level above C, which Moody's describes as "speculative (and) of poor standing, and are subject to very high credit risk."

NIU Hosts First-Ever Safety Awareness Day Next Week

Sep 27, 2016
NIU Police

The Northern Illinois University police department will host its first-ever Safety Awareness Day next week.

NIU officer Weyni Langdon says the fair’s purpose is for new members of the community – like college freshmen who haven’t been away from home before – to familiarize themselves with police departments in the surrounding area and get necessary safety resource information all in one place.

“At the beginning of the year, we have a lot of questions about which agency is which – you know, ‘Are you NIU police? Are you DeKalb police? Are you county?’” Langdon said.

Flickr user Forsaken Fotos / "Itt Tech tv" (CC V 2.0)

Nearly 1,000 Illinois students may have to continue their studies elsewhere after ITT Technical Institute announced its closure last week.

    

 

 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced in July that he was creating a bipartisan commission to change the way the state funds public schools. That commission held its third meeting this week. But another commission is tackling the same topic, and its founder claims her group is getting more work done.

It's a mixed bag of news about enrollment from state schools in Illinois this week.

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker says enrollment is down 5.5%, putting the school at 19,015 students university-wide. Baker tells the campus community that the largest decline is in the freshman class. Numbers from NIU show there are 457 fewer freshman compared to last year; that's a drop of 20.2%. Smaller declines took place among transfer and graduate students. 

Jeff Bossert

  Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and Senator Dick Durbin went to Parkland College to discuss education costs.   

Both Democrats  are sponsoring the “In The Red Act.”  This legislation would provide federal funding for two years’ free tuition at community colleges.  Durbin says if passed, the Act would help students, but only if they put in the work.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ News

Career, or vocational, training has traditionally aimed toward getting students blue collar or service industry jobs. That’s still true. But in Beloit, school officials want to add tech jobs to the list. 

RVC Names Three Finalists For Next President

Aug 24, 2016

Three finalists have been selected in the search for the next Rock Valley College president.

They are:

Flickr user JayMase / "Physical Education" (CC V 2.0)

Nearly 15 percent of northern Illinois school districts still have not complied with the state mandate for public school physical education class five days a week.

Thirty public school districts in the WNIJ listening area still do not have physical education classes five days a week. They all received waivers which have now expired – some as long ago as 2002. 

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

  Democratic State Treasurer Mike Frerichs and Republican Congressman Rodney Davis shared a podium at the University of Illinois Urbana campus Wednesday to provide bipartisan support for the expansion of 529 College Savings Plans.

529’s help families save for college by providing tax breaks and other financial advantages.

Rock Valley College Opens New Downtown Campus

Aug 2, 2016
Phil Masterton/WNIJ

Rock Valley College’s six-year effort to increase education accessibility took another step forward Tuesday as the new downtown campus opened officially in the iconic Rockford Register Star News Tower.

In what once was a bustling newsroom, 13,000 square feet is now dedicated to credit-level, transferable classes formerly taught only on the main Mulford Road campus.

Wisconsin has Illinois beat when it comes to some state school rankings, according to one report.

When it comes to variables like drop-out rate, school safety and test scores, Wisconsin ranked 5th overall in the country – whereas Illinois ranked 13th. That’s according to a WalletHub report, which uses data from national collection agencies like the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Educational Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

We’re learning a lot more about the workhorse of the world’s flower beds and planter boxes: the Petunia Genome Project is complete, with the help of researchers from Northern Illinois University.

NIU professors Tom Sims and Rick Johns were among the primary researchers in the four year project. Johns says mapping the petunia’s DNA involved 50 researchers from 10 countries.

Science used to be one scientist working in a lab with a few students but now international collaboration is the rule, not the exception.

U Of I Selects New Chancellor For Urbana Campus

Jul 20, 2016
University of Illinois

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen has announced that Robert J. Jones will be the new chancellor for the University's Urbana campus and vice-president of the three-campus U of I system.

The 65-year-old Jones is president of the Albany campus of the State University of New York. Pending approval by trustees on Thursday, he will take office as chancellor in Urbana on October 3.

IBHE

During the recent state budget impasse, Illinois colleges and universities have been forced to scrape by without state funding, except for stop gap money designed to keep them open through the fall semester. But that may not satisfy accreditation agencies. James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says the Higher Learning Commission may just home in on the fact that Illinois schools are missing what schools in other states have: a solid budget.

Young Girls Choose Extra 'School Day' For STEM And Art

Jun 27, 2016
Nicole Shenberger/WNIJ

On the first day of summer, instead of playing outside, a group of eleven 7-to-10-year-old girls got to go back to class for a morning.

MakerGirl, a group dedicated to getting young girls interested in Science and Technology, hosted an event at the Pearl City Elementary School in Stephenson County. The girls got to design their own key chain on a computer and watch it come to life on a 3D Printer. Tristen Carey, one of the participants, describes her favorite part of the event, “how science can be made into artwork”

Western Illinois University

  The President of Western Illinois University will keep his job for at least one more year.  

The Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to extend Dr. Jack Thomas' contract through the 2016-2017 fiscal year. 

Reading from a prepared statement during the board's quarterly meeting, Chairman Roger Clawson said trustees enthusiastically commend Thomas for the leadership he showed in difficult times.  Trustees also say they support his strategic vision for WIU.  

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