Education

Lawmakers are considering whether to make comprehensive sexual education mandatory for grades K-12 in public schools across the state.

Cities are finding a way to improve high crime areas is to have police develop ties with residents.  In Peoria, a program where officers live in the neighborhoods has proven successful and is expanding.  We have a report.  

And we learn what Governor J.B. Pritzker said during his budget address.  Pritzker used the opportunity to also push for a graduated income tax. 

That and more on Statewide.

Peter Medlin

On a new Teachers' Lounge: Trudy DesLauriers. She's a reading specialist at Morris Elementary School who has taught for over 30 years. She also has two golden retriever therapy dogs, Martha and Thelma Lou, who come in to help struggling readers. Once a month, a group of other therapy dogs from greyhounds to goldendoodles join them for their "Sit! Stay! Read!" event.

Trudy talked to host Peter Medlin about how her therapy dog program and how Martha and Thelma Lou sometimes get to offer emotional support for students on top of the reading help.

Peter Medlin

What’s the vision you have in your head of P.E. class? Hoping not to get picked last in dodgeball? Are you climbing a rope?

  

That’s what physical education was for a lot of people. But now, in many schools, technology is crafting the next generation of gym class while teachers focus more on mental health than getting fit. 

 

 

Two professional basketball players said it's only fair to allow college athletes to seek sponsorships and other lucrative deals if colleges and universities are profiting at the same time.

Spencer Tritt

Postcards for the 2020 Census go out next month. But schools are already using past census data to illustrate trends and teach students the importance of an accurate count.

The census dictates billions of dollars in federal funding. That includes education funding for special ed, after-school and a plethora of other programs.

As the northern Illinois community of Aurora marks the one year anniversary of a deadly workplace shooting at the Henry Pratt Company, we find out how the city is remembering the lives lost that day.  

The gunman in that shooting had his firearm license revoked years earlier, but his weapons were never confiscated.  That has put more focus on getting guns away from individuals who are prohibited from having them.  We have a report.

And we hear the perspectives of two law enforcement officials, from much different communities.  That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Illinois lawmakers are considering a proposal to give students mental health days away from school.

The legislation would allow children in kindergarten through twelfth grade who have mental health issues the opportunity to take up to five days off during the school year.

A new University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign survey finds most students who experience sexual misconduct don’t tell anyone. 

Campus officials say the findings of the Spring 2019 Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct are a signal that they need to do more to encourage victims to come forward.

High schools promote a four year college degree to students, often placing less priority on other options like vocational training, two year degrees and more.  We learn about a program in one community that is working to explain the different choices.  

More colleges and universities are making standardized test scores from the ACT and SAT scores optional when it comes to admissions.  

And we get a lesson on coyotes and why more are showing up in urban areas.  That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Maggie Kasicki

On this week’s podcast: Maggie Kasicki talks to host Peter Medlin. She teaches English as a Second Language at Rockford University. She also volunteers at schools across Rockford teaching cross-cultural education. They also talked a lot about her traveling, but specifically about how she travels culturally. There's no Holiday Inn, no continental breakfast. Maggie gets straight-up embedded.

 

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.

As public universities in Illinois have seen enrollment declines in recent years, one state lawmaker has an idea aimed at keeping high school graduates from leaving.

Peter Medlin

Students are taping drywall they hung a few weeks ago. The sound of hammers and saws echo from another room. 

 

“This house here was built last year at Guilford. You were in that class, right?” said Jack Turner. He’s the construction manager at Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. “Yeah, so they built the house last year.”

  

The student he just spoke to is in a construction class at Guilford High School. The class works both semesters and builds one house per year. 

 

We'll find out why tearing down old structures doesn't have to mean sending a lot of material to the landfill.  Deconstruction is a process of salvage and re-use.  Hear how one city is embracing that approach.  

We'll talk with some Springfield area artists who put a face on the issue of homelessness. And we have a conversation about an effort to teach and celebrate statesmanship.

Those stories and more on this week's Statewide.

NIU No Longer Looking At SAT & ACT Scores

Jan 30, 2020
Susan Stephens

Students applying to Northern Illinois University with a 3.0 grade point average or higher will soon be automatically admitted.

Other universities, including Western Illinois University, have already adopted test-optional policies.

NIU is the first public university in the state to go completely test blind starting fall 2021.

The university will no longer look at SAT and ACT scores for admission as well as merit scholarships.

Wikipedia Commons

A recently proposed plan would add sexting to the list of topics covered in Illinois sex education courses.

Middle and high schools in the state would be required to discuss with students the social, academic and legal consequences of sending or receiving sexually explicit images.

It was introduced by State Representative Maurice West of Rockford. He says a constituent reached out with the idea to expand a law passed last year about teaching consent.

Erik Czerwin

Erik Czerwin, language arts & literature teacher at Rockford's Guilford High School, sits down with host Peter Medlin for a wide-ranging discussion of the top education issues of 2019 and what they'll be looking at in 2020. 

They talk about everything from local stories like:

Peter Medlin

A group of teachers hold their phone in front of their faces. Using the camera they’re looking at the classroom they’re standing in...when suddenly a zombie appears. It warns they need to reach a safe house or they’ll be eaten alive.

 

 

 With that they face a series of locked doors. To open them and escape the undead’s grasp, they need to answer a series of vocabulary questions. Wait, what?

 

Guy Stephens

A Northern Illinois University professor is looking at ways to reduce incarceration rates for those dealing with mental illness. Professor of Sociology Fred Markowitz will continue his research in Finland thanks to a Fulbright research grant.

Markowitz said both Finland and the U.S have seen an increase in the number of mentally ill in jail as they cut back local treatment programs. He said in the U.S., it’s difficult to get good information on the impact of those cuts, or programs that might prevent jail time for those grappling with mental illness.

Peter Medlin

Rockford's West Middle School principal Maurice Davis sits down with host Peter Medlin on a new episode of Teachers’ Lounge!

Maurice is from Rockford. In fact, his parents still live literally a few blocks from his school. He’s taught at pretty much every level of education except maybe preschool. Peter and Maurice talked about coming back to his hometown to teach, making history class relevant, how to improve teaching into 2020 and beyond and so much more.

Peter Medlin

 

Every year, the DeKalb/Sycamore Bookcase Project makes 50 bookcases for 50 children, each case complete with a metal plate engraved with the child’s name. 

 

 

The project is now in its ninth year. Former DeKalb Mayor John Rey started the effort. And if you ask him where he got the idea? He says he read about it. 

 

 

On our final episode of the year, we remember some of the top reports and conversations from 2019.   

On this show we tried to give an example of the type of journalism we bring you each week: coverage of public affairs, examining problems and solutions, inspirational stories and the voices that make up the state we call home.  

 

Our lineup:

Spencer Tritt

 

Illinois is struggling to attract and hire new teachers. A new program hopes to borrow a few tricks from the medical field to address the issue.

Victims of domestic violence are told to seek help.  But what happens when a child is violent toward parents?  A central Illinois couple says there's not enough support available.  We'll have a report.

We also hear about special education students being shipped out of state.  There are questions about the schools where they are kept at taxpayer expense.

And we hear how some people handle a holiday tradition: the political argument among family members. 

That and more on this week's Statewide.

District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly said the Illinois State Board of Education made a political, knee jerk reaction when it banned isolated seclusion for disruptive students.

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University officials continue to look for ways to attract new students.

Fall enrollment hit its lowest level in 50 years. Officials recently announced they will freeze tuition rates for the sixth year in a row.  Room and board rates will also remain flat next year. The university will cap tuition at  $4,732.80 per semester for students taking 12 or more credit hours. That’s to encourage students to finish their degree on time. University President Lisa Freeman said NIU will also lower student fees.

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees deadlocked on appointing Dr. Martin Abraham as the university's 12th president. The vote came after the board held a five hour executive session Thursday night and met behind closed doors for more than an hour Friday morning. 

Peter Medlin

This week, we’ve got a retired physical education teacher and girls’ basketball coach.

His name is Paul Williams, he taught and coached at Prairie Hills Junior High in Markham, Illinois for decades.

Paul talked to host Peter Medlin about the greatest lessons he’s learned about teaching, coaching and traveling across the country with his basketball teams and much more.

This episode looks ahead to the new recreational marijuana law that will take effect the first of the year.  You might have questions and we will try to provide answers.  We'll also hear how marijuana growers are working to meet the expected demand.

A new biography tells the story of Lane Evans, the late Illinois congressman from the Quad Cities.  Evans died in 2014 from complications related to Parkinson's Disease.

And racism in a suburban school district has led to a concerted effort to rebuild trust.

That and more on the latest Statewide.

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