Education

Changes In Store For NIU Title IX Office

Sep 17, 2019
Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University's Title IX coordinator says there are changes being made to her office.  They come in a response to a student protest in May.  

Title IX prohibits sex discrimination at education institutions receiving federal funding.  Coordinator Sarah Garner says her office is currently in the process of hiring a Title IX investigator. 

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Since returning to DeKalb a decade ago, Maurice McDavid has held many titles. Some call him their teacher, others call him their preacher. To some of his elementary school students, he even goes by his hip-hop moniker, Mr. McDizzle. But above all of that, he's trying to be an advocate in the town he was raised in.

Also on the show, a topic with both international and personal ramifications: cybersecurity.

Former University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Gary Gang Xu assaulted and threatened students while university officials downplayed complaints, a lawsuit says. He ultimately resigned, taking $10,000 as part of his separation agreement.

This article was produced in partnership with NPR Illinois, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

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Over the summer, public schools across Illinois received kits designed to help staff members respond in the event of life-threatening injuries. Each kit contains Nitrile gloves, a MicroShield mask, QuikClot bandages, and a tourniquet — just enough supplies to help save one person from bleeding to death. Schools can receive up to five more free kits if they train more staff on a curriculum called STOP the Bleed

Photo by Spencer Tritt

Illinois’ teacher shortage has only gotten worse over the past few years. The legislature passed measures in the last year meant to help relieve the problem. But, as the academic year begins, school officials still have concerns.

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A mother and daughter, they both teach kindergarten at the same school. They come from a long line of teachers in their family. And this year, the next generation is putting on her backpack to share those same halls as she goes into kindergarten herself.

Photo by Spencer Tritt

Teachers with the DeKalb Classroom Teachers Association have been working without a contract since the start of the new school year. They just filed an intent to strike, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be one soon.

The union and DeKalb Board of Education have been negotiating since February. The most crucial issues for DeKalb teachers has been class sizes as well as the length of their contract.

Photo by Spencer Tritt

More than four billion private records were exposed by data breaches in the first half of 2019.

Illinois residents have seen their fair share of information compromises. In July, the state received a share of the Equifax settlement.

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A few days a week, Earlville high school juniors and seniors sit down for their first class in what's called their "college classroom." It's where they can take dual enrollment courses, and get college credit if they pass.

Last year, Earlville's graduating class was only 37 students. But they left with nearly a combined 200 college credit hours.

"Because we are a textbook, low-income, small country school, we're kind of proud of all the different opportunities that we can offer the kids," said principal Jeanette Fruit.

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She works with teenagers and young adult students with autism. She also happens to be a comedy writer. And she moonlights on top of that as an indie musician. She says her work has been described as a "girls' night out with Kacey Musgraves and Alison Krauss." On this episode of Teachers' Lounge we talked to Cora Vasseur about how all of that happened, and how her art influences her work with special needs students -- and vice versa.   

Also on the show, a conversation about student debt forgiveness; and two prominent Illinois politicians weigh in on the debt crisis.

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Teachers’ Lounge is a new podcast from WNIJ telling the stories of education in Illinois with the help of stories from Illinois educators. Join reporter Peter Medlin every other Friday (payday!) for a new episode. 

If you are a teacher, you know a teacher who you think should be on the show, or have a story about a teacher who inspired you -- send us an email at teacherslounge@niu.edu to join the conversation. 

Also, feel free to send us your ideas for stories and topics for the show to cover.

 

Report Highlights Higher Ed Inequity In Chicagoland

Jul 17, 2019
Photo by Spencer Tritt

Even with Chicagoland students in the same income range, white students have a much greater chance of getting a degree than students of color.

That’s according to a new report from the non-profit Partnership for College Completion. The group just released a report highlighting college access and success disparities in northern Illinois.

It finds gaps exist regardless of academics and have more to do with race and family income levels.

Photo by Spencer Tritt

 

Jim Vera teaches government at Oswego East High School. He often has his students, mostly sophomores, stand in all four corners of the classroom. The corners are marked "Agree," "Disagree," "Strongly agree" and "Strongly disagree."

 

He starts small. Do we have good sports programs here? They all pick a corner. Then the debate escalates until, eventually, they're discussing topics like if it's okay to burn the American flag. 

 

 

Peter Medlin

Over 100 Kaneland School District teachers and other members of the community rallied outside of Harter Middle School on Monday

They were there supporting the Kaneland Education Association as they continue to negotiate a new contract before their current one expires at the end of the month.

They wore all red, and held up signs with slogans like “Teachers need more than apples."

Raney Good is the Kaneland Education Association’s president.

Peter Medlin

A new report from the Illinois State Board of Education highlights how many children are developmentally ready for Kindergarten upon entering.

Results of Illinois’ Kindergarten Individual Development Survey or “KIDS” show only 26% of children met readiness standards in all of the measured areas. Thirty-nine percent met standards in none of the categories.

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker is starting to act on the flurry of bills sent to his desk in the wake of this year’s spring legislative session. Among the first that he’s signed requires schools to provide a minimum of five hours of learning time.


Chase Cavanaugh

Unemployment can happen to anyone, and state government and colleges have resources to help those who are looking to increase skills while they are between jobs. 

The state's latest jobs numbers indicate that unemployment was at 4.7% in February. However, this rate was higher in many of the state's metro areas. The highest was Kankakee, at 6.7%, followed by Rockford at 6.4. 

The number of school districts giving laptops and tablets to students has grown exponentially in just a few years. And the new technology is already reshaping the way work is done in the classroom. 

That's already happened at Pecatonica Middle School. The school, in a village of 2,000, went "one-to-one" five years ago. That means one device -- in this case, a Chromebook laptop -- per student.

As students sit down at their science class, they flip open their laptops. They've got a quiz tomorrow, so they immediately go to their Quizlet program to review.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker replaced most of the state board of education this week and appointed a new superintendent.

The board includes seven women and two men. The new superintendent, Carmen Ayala, is the first woman and the first person of color appointed to hold that position full-time.

"It's amazing. It's such an honor, I mean, it still hasn't hit me today,” she said. “Somebody texted and said, ‘You know, Carmen, today you made history in Illinois,’ and I was like wow! That's just amazing. It's an honor."

In his budget address today, Gov. J.B. Pritzker listed education as one of his top three priorities, requesting increased funding for programs across the educational spectrum, from babies to grade school to colleges and universities.

Now all he has to do is persuade lawmakers to go along with his plan to pay for it.

Nelle Conley

Seven years ago, a girls school founded by two Northern Illinois University professors opened its doors to its first eleven students in rural western Kenya. Now, 160 girls attend the school that has a goal of being “good enough for the richest, open to the poorest.” The school added music to its curriculum this year, and that created a mutual opportunity for one DeKalb native. On this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Susan Stephens sits down with Nelle Conley before she heads back to Kenya.

       

It’s been a rough couple of years for Illinois community colleges, from the slashed funds of the budget impasse to concerning enrollment declines. This is part two in a three-part series on how these very different schools have stayed afloat by embracing change and, more importantly, putting the community in community college.

 

Pixabay

Illinois is offering a new tool for students and their parents to plan for college.

The tool is a website and app called ILCollege2Career. It takes data from Illinois universities and matches it with how likely someone is to find a job in a given field — and how much that job might pay.

It’s meant to be a one-stop shop for students looking for the perfect school for their major. The catch is that there’s only data on Illinois schools. It’s aimed at keeping homegrown students in-state. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner/Facebook

A new state law will allow Illinois high school students to take an unlimited number of dual-credit courses and earn both high school and college credits.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Friday that he says will give students better access to higher education. The General Assembly unanimously approved the measure in May.

Some school districts have limited the number of dual-credit classes students may enroll in or the number of credits they may earn.

The Sound of Science - "Coffee"

Aug 10, 2018

Kate: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Kate Powers, and today’s question comes from Alex who wants to know why coffee tastes so weird. With me is STEM Outreach’s resident coffee enthusiast Sam Watt. Sam loves his coffee so much, he even went out of his way to pick and roast his own coffee in a coffee grove in Cambodia!

FLICKR USER: DCJOHN WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/DCJOHN/

A new Illinois law will give gifted children the chance to move ahead in public schools.

 

 

 

April Alonso / The Chicago Reporter

A series of state laws meant to reduce the number of kids getting kicked out of school appears to have worked. That’s the good news. But the bad news is: Those same laws also seem to have magnified racial disparities in school discipline.

Kalyn Belsha covers education for the Chicago Reporter, and she analyzed three years worth of discipline data from the Illinois State Board of Education.

A former DeKalb schools superintendent was arrested at his Elgin home today, accused of sending explicit photos of a person without consent.

Police executed an arrest warrant Thursday for former DeKalb schools superintendent Doug Moeller.

The district had placed Moeller on paid leave in the fall of 2016, shortly after a former principal sought an order of protection against him for alleged sexual harassment. He was dismissed the following April.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

A clerical bargaining unit at Northern Illinois University still doesn’t have an initial union contract with NIU after their negotiations meeting earlier this week. That’s after more than two years of talks.

The more than 600 members of AFSCME Local 1890 are now looking at their legal rights to strike, according to union spokeswoman Sara Dorner.

Dorner says that’s a different approach than the union's original plan. Clerical, administrative and paraprofessional workers planned to picket on NIU’s DeKalb campus every Monday at noon until they have an initial contract.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

More than 20 students at a Rockford high school won’t have to leave the school to get paid as local credit union workers this fall.

What’s now a classroom next to the cafeteria soon will become a credit union within Guilford High School, according to Chris Magee, the college and career academy coach at GHS.

Magee says students also will help design the space and determine what type of work environment they want for this branch. She says the goal is to teach students financial literacy before they leave high school and to help them establish a relationship with a bank.

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