Lee Gaines, Education Reporter
Lee Gaines is an award-winning journalist whose work has been heard on multiple national broadcasts, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Here & Now. Lee was hired in late 2017 to be the education reporter for Illinois Public Media and Illinois Newsroom.
Prior to her work at IPM, Lee wrote for newspapers and magazines in Chicago and nationally. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, the Pacific Standard and the Marshall Project. She also recently completed a fellowship with the Education Writers Association.
Sierra is in a bind. She and her husband have two children — ages three and nine years old — and they live in Urbana.
Enrollment at the University of Illinois system this year exceeded 90,000 students for the first time. University officials say the increase marks the eighth year
CHAMPAIGN – Some Illinois school officials are upset that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not extended waivers that would allow districts to continue serving
There’s a growing debate over how to measure the success of college in prison programs beyond how many students are released and return to prison.
The Illinois State Board of Education is leaving it up to districts to decide how to reopen schools this fall. Some have chosen to continue
Schools across Illinois are finalizing their reopening plans for the fall term amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some parents of students with disabilities are concerned
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students are calling on the institution to sever ties with the college town’s local police departments and dissolve the university’s
As schools across Illinois finalize their plans to reopen this fall, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is urging students, teachers and school staff members to
URBANA – Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert remembers watching a man dressed up in Native American regalia dance across a football field as “surreal” and “in many
CHAMPAIGN – Nearly 350 incarcerated people in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 200 staff
Kush Gupta says he panicked when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a rule last week barring international students from taking a full online
Champaign Unit 4 Schools To Prioritize In-Person Teaching For The Most Vulnerable Students This Fall
CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign Unit 4 School District is changing their reopening plans for this fall. At a meeting this week, the district’s Board of
URBANA – University leaders from across the Midwest say they’re concerned about a drop in international student enrollment this fall, given new restrictions imposed on
URBANA – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued new restrictions Monday on international students planning to attend American colleges and universities this fall. The guidance
URBANA – University of Illinois officials released more details Monday about what the fall semester will look like on its Urbana campus. During a webinar
Even before the pandemic began, Lisbeth Hernandez says she was exhausted. Hernandez is heading into her senior year at Dominican University, a small Catholic college
SPRINGFIELD – Prospective and currently enrolled college students may be eligible for additional financial aid if their economic circumstances have changed significantly since they first
‘A Little Light Of Hope:’ Illinois College Students With DACA Status Reflect On Supreme Court Ruling
Researchers estimate there are more than 200,000 students with temporary legal protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. Last
University Of Illinois Announces Plans To Reopen In The Fall, But Some Professors Fear For Their Safety
URBANA – The University of Illinois system, including its campuses in Urbana, Springfield and Chicago, will welcome back tens of thousands of students this fall.
University Of Illinois Creates Saliva COVID-19 Test With A Plan To Use It On Thousands Of Students This Fall
URBANA – Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a saliva-based COVID-19 test. During a webinar hosted Tuesday by U of I
With police brutality in the news, parents may be wondering how to talk to their children about racism and White supremacy. These conversations are familiar
URBANA – The union for graduate student workers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign wants most instruction to stay online through the fall semester
CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign County Bailout Coalition paid more than $46,000 to bail 16 people out of the county jail. The 16 were among 27
URBANA – Hundreds of protesters took over the streets of downtown Urbana Monday to denounce police brutality against people of color — including the recent
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the Campus Faculty Association’s role at the University of Illinois. A previous version of this article
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7:54 p.m. on May 26 to include comments from the Illinois Department of Corrections. An amended lawsuit filed
Illinois Schools Receive Federal Stimulus Aid, Questions Remain On How Money Gets To Private Schools
Illinois school districts will receive more than half a billion dollars in federal stimulus funds as a result of the CARES Act. School districts across
Educators Donate $50,000 Worth Of Hand Sanitizer, Soap To Illinois Prisons. Inmates Wonder Where It Went.
Joseph Horton is overwhelmed and stressed because he’s struggling to keep himself and his cell clean. Horton is incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center in southern
Illinois has increased enrollment and improved access to preschool programs for children across the state, according to a recent report from the National Institute for Early
Illinois College-In-Prison Program Creates Guide For People Released From Incarceration During COVID-19
A University of Illinois college-in-prison program created a reentry guide for those released from prison and jail during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every year, the Education
Thirty homelessness prevention organizations across Illinois will receive grants totaling a collective $340,000. The money will be distributed by affordable housing advocacy organization Housing Action
Amber McKeag says her son Darrin received little braille instruction before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Illinois. Now, she says, he doesn’t receive any. McKeag and
Lisa Marlow is worried about her students. Marlow is a school nurse and educator with the Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186. The district serves
Champaign Unit 4 Schools Superintendent Susan Zola says the district is on track to meet the digital needs of its families as e-learning continues through
DECATUR – Nine residents at the Fair Havens Senior Living facility in Decatur have died after contracting COVID-19. So far, all COVID-19 related deaths in
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,585 new cases of COVID-19 statewide on Saturday, and an additional 125 deaths. The total number of cases
Champaign Unit 4 Schools Superintendent Susan Zola wrote in a message to families last Friday that the district will continue to ensure students have access
URBANA – At least six men incarcerated in the Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet have died after contracting COVID-19. According to the Illinois Department of
Labor unions across the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus are bargaining with administrators on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A group called the Campus
One of Kenya Williams’s favorite classes is the broadcast journalism course she’s taking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That’s why she was devastated
The Champaign and Urbana school districts are distributing Chromebooks to students who need the devices. Champaign schools have so far distributed about 1,000 Chromebooks to
Betsy Crosswhite says it felt like a punch in the gut when her son’s school closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. That’s when
About half of Gladys Marquez’s students can’t access the internet at home. Marquez teaches English language learners at Dwight Eisenhower High School in Blue Island
The Illinois State Board of Education announced late last week that remote learning days will start for students across the state Tuesday, March 31 and
CHAMPAIGN – Champaign Unit 4 school officials plan to distribute Chromebooks to students whose families do not have a device at home. In a message
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced this week that Illinois prisons would be closed to new inmates in response to growing concern about the COVID-19 pandemic spreading
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted earlier this month to increase health insurance premiums by more than 30 percent for students at its
Advocates and correctional officials are calling on Illinois and other states across the country to release youth from juvenile detention facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dawnal Mahan is an essential employee. She manages the cafeteria inside Chatham Elementary School, a kindergarten through fourth grade school in the small town located
Elementary and secondary school districts across Illinois are moving toward online or e-learning while students remain at home in an effort to contain the coronavirus.
Elementary and secondary schools in Illinois are closed through at least March 30 to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel
The Illinois Department of Corrections announced Friday that visitors will be temporarily barred from the state’s correctional facilities in an effort to prevent the spread
Update: This story was updated at 1:35 p.m. Friday, March 13, 2020 to state that the Illinois Department of Corrections is not currently testing individuals
Alissa Xiao is confined to a bedroom in her parents home in the East Bay region of California. Xiao, 20, is a junior at the
A group of 13 students from Centennial High School in Champaign traveled to Atlanta, Georgia earlier this month for a two-day training in nonviolence strategies.
Each year, roughly 28,000 people are released from Illinois prisons. Now, four of those men will live in a modest five-bedroom home in a residential
When Ralph Gray transferred from one prison in Illinois to another, he didn’t know the move would mean sacrificing access to an education. Gray guessed
When he was in his early 20s, Matt purchased a pound of weed to split with his friends. The drug dealer dropped it off at
Garden Hills Elementary School parents, neighbors and Champaign community members said they opposed a proposal that would swap the school’s campus in north Champaign with
URBANA – Practicing yoga could lead to improved brain health, according to a University of Illinois review of the available research on how the practice
During their Tuesday evening meeting, the Urbana School District 116 Board of Education reaffirmed its decision to hire two full-time school resource officers (SRO), including one each for Urbana Middle and High Schools.
To solve a host of problems the district faces, Champaign Unit 4 Schools officials recently proposed swapping two elementary school campuses. At a Unit 4
The man credited with inventing the LED light is the honorary grand marshal of the Champaign Center’s 19th Annual Parade of Lights. Nick Holonyak, Jr.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has revised its publication review policy to include a centralized appeal process for incarcerated people who feel they’ve been unfairly
Yuliana Quintana worries she won’t succeed in college because she didn’t have access to lab equipment, Advanced Placement classes, and other resources…
When Francisco Gamino arrived at Parkland College four years ago, he didn’t know how to balance work and find the time he needed to study.
Dianne Gordon, a mom who lives in Champaign, knew something was wrong with her daughter Rory the minute she stepped off the school bus one afternoon in…
The new director of the Illinois Department of Corrections said during a legislative hearing in Chicago on Monday that the agency plans to revise its…
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is cosponsoring legislation that would rollback one of the provisions of the 1994 crime bill. It’s called the Restoring…
Illinois lawmakers plan to ask state prison officials why more than 200 books were removed from a college in prison program’s library at the Danville…
Augie Torres said he missed between seven and 10 job interviews when he was released from prison in October 2014 because he was on an electronic monitor…
Last week, Illinois Newsroom reported on the removal of more than 200 books from the shelves of a college in prison program’s library inside the…
When she found out that staff at the Danville Correctional Center had removed more than 200 books from a library inside the prison’s education wing,…
The Illinois Department of Corrections requested a massive increase in funding for educational supplies as part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s state budget proposal. The request
Just because someone has four walls around them every night, that doesn’t mean they’re housed. That’s what Paul Hamann believes. He’s the president and…
Melissa Esparza fled her home in west suburban Chicago two years ago. Then 16, she said her parents became physically violent after years of verbal…
Last summer, Chantil was forced to leave the townhome she shared with her two daughters and her mother in Des Plaines. (We’re withholding Chantil’s last…
Why Even Illinois’s Department Of Corrections Wants To Fix The Way The State Does Electronic Monitoring
Nicole Davis said her uncle was diagnosed with late-stage cancer after his release from prison in 2014. He was confined to his home because of
Illinois could save millions of dollars on incarceration costs if the federal ban on Pell Grants for inmates was lifted, according to a new report
Perry Cline’s story is a remarkable one. He’s a formerly incarcerated 51-year-old man who overcame the odds to graduate from the University of Illinois…
Like many people coming out of prison, Perry Cline never thought he’d get a college degree. “I thought I was just going to be another bum in the streets…
Last spring, Illinois Newsroom reported that the Illinois Department of Corrections spent less than $300 on books for all of its prisons the prior year.
Four years ago, Chris Miner decided to apply to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Then 40-years-old, Miner was encouraged to apply by a…
The push to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois could get a jump-start early next year. State Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, said this week
Earlier this year, I reported for Illinois Newsroom that the Illinois Department of Corrections spent less than $300 on books for its educational programs across
Knowing there were other transgender inmates in prisons in Illinois and across the country made Leila Lee feel as though she wasn’t alone. She said it…
Lily Furgeson had a great experience in sex ed in middle school. Furgeson, who is a 17-year-old senior at a Chicago Public Schools high school, said her eighth grade sex ed teacher made sure to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities as part of their curriculum.
Access to high-speed internet stops about seven miles east of both Nippersink School District 2 and Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157, according to Tom Lind.
Illinois Newsroom asked the candidates running for Congress in the 13th District (where Martin lives) what they plan to do about the issue if elected.
In 2000, Charles Davidson was arrested the day before the 4th of July for a crime he said he didn’t commit. Urbana Police responded that
Illinois schools will soon have to publicly report and be evaluated on a new performance measurement: chronic absence. But researchers and superintendents have raised questions
In his first major political speech since leaving office, former President Barack Obama took aim at the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress — blaming
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a slew of legislation this month intended to alleviate Illinois’s teacher shortage. But some teachers and union leaders doubt
Michelle McAnarney said she realized her daughter Darby was different than other children soon after she was born. “She was always a little delayed…
In a community with as many resources as Champaign-Urbana, why does gun violence persist? That’s the question Donte’ Lotts, a community liaison for CU Fresh
There were more than 2,000 teaching, administrative, support staff and other positions across the state that went unfilled during the 2016-17 school year, according to a report from the Illinois State Board of Education.
Simple, everyday tasks – like ordering coffee, crossing the street, or getting gas – can be an obstacle, or an intimidating challenge for people recently
Children who experience trauma often face behavioral, health and academic challenges, according to decades of research . Kristine Argue, instructional…
Last month, about a dozen people gathered in the basement of a church in Champaign, Ill. to learn how traumatic experiences affect the lives of
Every Sunday, a group of women meets in the basement of a church in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood to sort and package boxes of books. The boxes are sent to women
Hundreds of classes have been canceled and dozens more relocated as a strike by graduate employees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign continues into a second
The publisher of a newsletter about the criminal justice system filed a lawsuit this week against the Illinois Department of Corrections alleging that multiple state
About 100 teachers and school support staff spent the better part of three hours inside a junior high school gymnasium in rural, east central Illinois in early