Laurie Elish-Piper

Perspective: Teacher Education Is A Tool For Anti-Racism

Jun 10, 2020
Clay Banks / Unsplash

When I went to college to become a teacher, I learned the content I would need to teach and the best methods for creating successful academic outcomes for students. And, during my 35 years as an educator, that’s what we’ve continued to do.

But that is no longer enough.

Teacher-preparation programs must intentionally, and deeply, address equity, race, racism and social justice because, as I often say, teachers are the backbone of our democratic society. Teachers spark and nurture young minds, support families and contribute to every community nationwide.

Perspective: Educators Are Essential

Apr 21, 2020
National Cancer Institute / via Unsplash

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one unexpected silver lining that I just have to share. Teachers are finally getting some of the love and respect that they so sincerely deserve from parents who now have that role – at least temporarily. Praise for educators is all over social media right now, and even celebrities and sports stars are acknowledging how challenging it is to teach and how appreciative they are for their children’s teachers.

Time to 'Soften' Our Schools

Jun 27, 2018

When the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School started the #neveragain movement, I was optimistic that these well-spoken, passionate young people would be able to change the hearts and minds of lawmakers and other leaders to increase access to mental health care and pass common-sense gun laws.

I hoped that, as a nation, we would undertake a coordinated effort to make our precious young people and dedicated educators safe in our schools. Sadly, we are once again faced with another mass school shooting – this time in Santa Fe, Texas.

Here's A Way To Change Lives

May 17, 2018

Teachers are the backbone of our democratic society. They prepare children to read, write, think critically, innovate, collaborate, lead, and take on the challenges of the world. Unfortunately, teaching has gotten a bad rap lately and, as a result, fewer young people and career-changers are pursuing teaching as a vocation.

How To Cover Your Gift-Shopping Needs

Dec 18, 2017

With holiday shopping in full force, catalogs, commercials and Facebook ads suggest an endless stream of “perfect gifts” for everyone on our lists.

How can that be? If you are like me, your list includes children, teens and adults from twenty-somethings to elderly parents. The pressure to find the right gift for each is high, and made even more challenging by trying to manage a holiday gift budget.

Superheroes Close To Home

Jul 19, 2017

Superheroes are everywhere right now. Wonder Woman and Spider-Man Homecoming are drawing huge crowds to theaters around the country. Dozens of popular TV shows chronicle the exploits of various superheroes.

Why are we so fascinated with superheroes? A superhero is defined as a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers or an exceptionally skillful or successful person. In these challenging times, having a superhero to resolve political, economic, and social problems does sound pretty appealing.


The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.  DeVos’s nomination was controversial, and it took a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence to confirm her in the post.  But despite that, one education expert says her appointment may not have all that much effect – at least at first.

Laurie Elish-Piper, Dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University, says DeVos may have strong views, but she’s circumscribed in her actions by current law -- especially the Every Student Succeeds Act passed in 2015.  

And My Word For 2017 Is ...

Jan 17, 2017

2016 has been a tough year for many of us. 

I’ve been nursing a knee injury for months, and many of my friends, family, and colleagues have been struggling with their own significant challenges this year.  Collectively, we’ve been mired in the contentious presidential election and transition, almost daily stories of unspeakable violence, and the ongoing lack of a state budget. 

Plans For The Best Summer Yet

Jun 2, 2016

Now that the weather has warmed up, school is winding down, and the sun is setting later into the evening, I find myself excited about these unscheduled extra hours of daylight.

Some years my plans focus on grand vacations or major projects, but this year I have plans to make this the best summer yet. And to reach this goal I have three ideas of how I want to spend my summer of 2016.

Guide For Life From A T-Shirt

Jan 20, 2016

Recently I was at O’Hare Airport, waiting in a long line to get through security. As I sized up the crowd, trying to figure out how long it would be before it was my turn, a T-shirt caught my eye.

In large, simple lettering, the T-shirt proclaimed, “Be nice. Do Good.” It made me smile, but I then quickly returned to talking with my family as we waited for our turns. What surprised me was that, throughout the next couple of weeks, I kept finding myself referring back to this simple T-shirt wisdom to “Be nice. And Do Good.”.

A Gift That Keeps On Giving

Nov 11, 2015

My fondest memories of my son growing up are the thousands of hours we spent reading together. Of all the things I’ve done for my son, I’m proudest that I’ve been able to give him the gift of reading.

Children who are read to are more prepared to learn and succeed when they start school. They have larger vocabularies, more background knowledge, and better comprehension. They tend to be better writers as well. And, the more a child reads, the better he or she gets at reading.

MAP Grants Need More Attention

Oct 15, 2015

The recent flurry of news stories about how the Illinois budget impasse has forced the state to hand out IOUs to lottery winners has drawn attention away from the effect the standoff is having on higher education.

One group hit hardest by the budget crisis is some 130,000 college students whose Monetary Awards Program funding – or MAP grants -- is not yet available. That leaves some of the state’s most needy students without the funding to continue their educations.

Laurie Elish-Piper

Oct 15, 2015

Laurie Elish-Piper, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University.

She is also a Presidential Engagement Professor and a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Literacy and Elementary Education (LEED), and she has recently completed a term as NIU’s Presidential Advisor on College and Career Readiness.