Education

What To Know About Recreational Cannabis On Campus

Dec 11, 2019
Andrew Heiserman

On a recent Thursday, a small group of Northern Illinois University students took their seats at an open forum to discuss recreational cannabis. It will be legal in Illinois soon.

Administrators wanted to make one thing clear: marijuana will still be banned on NIU’s campus.

That’s mostly because of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.    

On this episode of Statewide, we learn why some colleges say there is too much emphasis on standardized tests in the admissions process.  There is a growing movement to drop the requirement or place less of a priority on scores. 

Is an historic home a good fit for you?  Many are bypassing newly built houses for ones that have more character.  But they can be a lot of work.  We'll find out more. 

And a new proposal threatens to end minor league baseball in some Midwest communities.   These stories and more on Statewide.   

Spencer Tritt

In response to mass shootings, schools across the country are spending millions on school safety projects.

School districts across Illinois will be able to submit grant requests through the Illinois State Board of Education. The law takes effect in January.

The Illinois State Board of Education today amended emergency rules that had banned the use of certain physical restraints in schools. Those rules had been enacted two weeks ago in response to an investigation published by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica documenting thousands of incidents where children with special needs were put into seclusion rooms at school.

 

The board had reacted to that report by banning not only seclusion rooms, but also the use of prone and supine physical restraints, which can make it difficult for children to breathe or communicate normally. 

 

Kevin Rubenstein, president of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, says those new rules had ripple effects.

Paul Morigi for the National Park Foundation

Art students from Harlem Middle School in Loves Park were chosen to create ornaments representing Illinois for the annual National Christmas Tree celebration in Washington D.C.

They had been working on the ornaments in secret since September. Their teacher, Ruth Meissen, said she chose 24 students for the 24 ornaments.

And she says it was up to them to decide what the design of the ornaments was going to be.

SIU's Board of Trustees will vote Thursday on the appointment of a new system president.


Last month, Northern Illinois University police investigated a potential threat circulating on social media.

The university sent a late-night “community awareness message” telling students and staff the threat wasn’t credible. But many NIU students had already seen the rumors online and were not satisfied with the university’s short response.

That morning, November 18, Kaitlyn Frisby woke up to Facebook and Twitter reactions about the situation from her classmates -- questions like: How long did they talk to the person? Are they in police custody?

Monmouth College is going to help its students pay "one of the hidden costs of college." Starting next fall, the cost of textbooks will be included in the college's tuition.

Peter Medlin

This week, a really special episode we've been excited about for a while. It’s a conversation with Dick Hart. He’s an 89-year-old retired choral teacher at Downers Grove North High School. He also played trombone in the Army band when he served during Korean War. Dick talked to Peter about all of that, his motto "music is life" and so much more.

Also on the show, a trip to the STEAM Academy at Haskell Elementary in Rockford to see how they jumped from being a lowest-performing school to a "commendable" one in just a year.

Spencer Tritt

DeKalb is a university town. But even growing up in the shadow of Northern Illinois University, that doesn’t mean every student sees themselves as a potential college student.

Advanced Placement classes are one way to make a student feel college-ready. They can also earn actual college credit from them.

The Illinois State Board of Education is encouraging anyone with information about abusive time-out rooms or restraints in any school setting to share that information directly with the agency. The request comes in the wake of a report earlier this week by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica documenting thousands of instances of children, usually with special needs, placed in seclusion in their schools.

Kevin Rubenstein, president of a statewide group of special education administrators, told the board to expect to hear even more stories.

Peter Medlin

The Partnership for College Completion held an event at Northern Illinois University discussing their new reports on the cost of college, specifically for black students.

Along with university officials and local lawmakers, several black NIU students came to the event to talk about their own challenges paying for school.

Gabrielle Sims is a junior at NIU.

This week, we hear about a community once known as a "sundown town" because African Americans were warned to be out of the city limits by nightfall.  It can be difficult for towns to shake that history.  We hear from a reporter who spent time in one to see if things have improved today. 

A northern Illinois man shares his story of getting to know German POW's who were kept in the state during World War II.  

And we learn about a camp for kids with type 1 diabetes.  That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Logo design by Spencer Tritt

This week on Teachers’ Lounge, Illinois High School Baseball Hall of Fame Coach, Neal Bertram! He’s been a coach and P.E. teacher at Rockford Lutheran for over 30 years. He talked to Peter about the joy of watching his kids gain confidence, the huge impact his P.E. teacher and basketball coach had on him, and baseball as an allegory for life.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

An advocacy group is calling on Illinois to make higher education more equitable for students.  It says that means changing the way it funds post-secondary schooling.

Before they dug into the numbers, Kyle Westbrook said his group wanted to try to reframe the conversation around the cost of college in Illinois.

More than 2,000 state employees report to work at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago's Loop.  But the building, constructed in the early 1980's, has a host of problems.  Repairs will be costly.  The State of Illinois is moving forward in an effort to sell the facility, which some say is an architectural gem.  We look at the pros and cons of the Thompson Center on this epsiode. 

Also, the tragic story of young women who suffered radiation poisoning working at an Illinois factory. That and more on Statewide.

If a school resource officer wants to question a student about a criminal act, they first have to notify the student's parents. That's according to a new law implemented at the beginning of this school year.

But State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego), says at least one district has already created a workaround. 

"The resource officer's dog, a K-9 unit, was walking through the parking lot and alerted on a student's car. The student got questioned with the resource officer present. They looked at the car, there was nothing there,” Kifowit says. “And the parent was never notified of this questioning until the student came home upset."

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

State disinvestment in higher education has put a college degree out of reach for many Illinois students. That’s a key finding from a new series of reports from the Partnership for College Completion.

The “Priced Out” reports focus on the three groups most impacted by funding lapses: Black, Latinx and students who live in rural communities.

Peter Medlin

During a recent visit to an elementary school in Rockford, the kids were making catapults in the MakerSpace lab. The lab is one of the central hubs of the STEAM Academy at Haskell Elementary. It’s in a new modular building, housed next to their 60-year-old school.

On weeks they don’t get to work in the MakerSpace lab, students try their hand at Lego education.

Spencer Tritt

The beginning of the school year is always hectic. That’s according to Suzy Changnon. She’s been a paraprofessional in the DeKalb School District for around 15 years.

If you’re not sure who paraprofessionals are, you might know them better as instructional assistants or aids.

“There's a lot of scrambling," as Changnon characterized the job. "Students have needs that need to be met. And sometimes a lot of us are doing double duty trying to cover one schedule and then breaking away mid-class to go help another student.”

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:  

This week, we hear how the legal system can have a disproportionate impact on low income individuals.  Fines and fees can pile up and experts say that can keep people in a cycle of poverty.  We'll learn what other states are doing to improve the situation.

East St. Louis has a rich cultural history, but even many of its residents are unaware.  A new effort is underway to show the town's contributions.

And speaking of history, Illinois has plenty to brag about when it comes to homegrown musical artists.  We'll learn about plans for the Rock and Roll Museum on Route 66.

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Peter Medlin

This week on Teachers’ Lounge, we take a look at the science behind brewing with DeKalb High School biology teacher, Steve Byers. He’s also the owner and brewmaster behind the new Byers Brewing Company in downtown DeKalb. Byers talked with Peter about how he got started brewing in college trying to recreate his favorite discontinued beers. They also discuss how he manages running a small business, being a full-time teacher, oh, and he has a new baby!

Enrollment declined at Illinois community colleges again this fall, driven in part by a strong economy and low unemployment.

Last week, Northern Illinois University announced the Huskie Pledge. The grant could cover tuition and fees for a student’s first year and up to four additional years.

The university is now offering more details on what the process will look like for students interested in applying.

Peter Medlin

The organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a report on Thursday on after-school programs.

The report found that the hours immediately following school, between 2 to 6 p.m., when youth are most likely to get in trouble with the law.

 

We sit down with a woman who spent years in prison for the murder of her 3-year old son.  She was later exonerated.  But in our conversation with Kristine Bunch, she talks about her time behind bars, her struggle with forgiveness and why returning to her friends and family has been challenging.   

The amazing scenery of the Shawnee National Forest makes it a tourist destination.  But some of its most popular sites might soon begin charging admission.  We find out what's behind the change. 

That and more on this episode of Statewide. 

 

Yuliana Quintana worries she won’t succeed in college because she didn’t have access to lab equipment, Advanced Placement classes, and other resources during her high school years.

Peter Medlin

About a mile away from Northern Illinois University’s campus in DeKalb, a nice 2-story house on the corner of Woodlawn Drive is vacant. The only sign of wear in sight is on a small metal sign in the freshly cut yard where the address is slowly rusting away. 

Built in 1955, this house has been home to the presidents of NIU. But, when Dr. Lisa Freeman was hired last year, she already had a home in DeKalb.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's approval rating is strong in the latest Illinois Issues survey, conducted last month involving registered voters from across the state.  While more people see the state making progress, a majority of those responding still say the state is going in the wrong direction.  We'll break down the findings.

Also, a national marijuana advocacy group sees Illinois' recreational cannabis law as a big win - not just for the cause in Illinois, but across the country. 

And, a new report has recommendations for keeping teachers of color in the classroom.

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