New Illinois Law Expands Black History Education — But How Will It Be Taught?

DANVILLE – Brennon Hightower says Black history is lacking in the education her two sons receive at their public school in Danville, a city in east-central Illinois. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hightower decided to homeschool her sons — aged 10 and 15 — using curricula she found and liked. But even that material included very […]

State School Board Requests $400 Million Funding Increase, Including K-12 Boost

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Board of Education officials on Monday made their case for an added $362.1 million to the state’s evidence-based funding formula and $50 million in early childhood education grants, pushing back on the governor’s proposal to keep state K-12 education funding flat next fiscal year. In total, the board recommended a $406 million, […]

Urbana Schools Plan Return To In-Person Learning With COVID-19 Testing On-Site

URBANA – At least 1,300 students plan to return to Urbana classrooms later this month, according to data shared during an Urbana District 116 Board of Education study session Tuesday night. School officials say their safety plans will be bolstered by access to a rapid COVID antigen test — known as the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag […]

Unmotivated Students, Confusing Requirements: Illinois Student Teachers Are Struggling

In her virtual classroom last fall, Erika Jimenez struggled to teach her third graders how to read an analog clock in English. In person, the lesson would have been challenging for the predominantly Spanish-speaking class. Over Zoom, the students were visibly frustrated. Some even cried. But those were just the students paying attention. Jimenez knows […]

COVID-19 Impacts Illinois School Data Collection, Including Attendance Rates

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) published its annual school report card data Friday, but state officials urged caution when interpreting that data due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on data collection for the 2019-20 school year.  State Superintendent Carmen Ayala said during a call with reporters this week that […]

Student Arrest Records A ‘Disturbing Mess’ At Illinois School Districts

Twenty-one Champaign Unit 4 students were arrested during the 2013-14 school year — 19 of them were Black — according to documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. During the 2015-16 school year, 17 students were arrested — of which 15 were Black. But the federal government thinks there were no arrests.  That’s […]

State Panel OKs Return of Prone Restraint on Illinois Students

school buses

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois school personnel can now temporarily use a type of previously-banned physical restraint on students if necessary. A few state lawmakers Monday said they’re “disappointed” in that decision to roll back the ban. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, quietly met and approved rolling back a ban on what’s called prone […]

Illinois School Closures Spotlight Opportunity Gap For Poor Students

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 on Chicago’s south side. The school serves predominantly students of color from low-income backgrounds.  Marquez says her students are fortunate to attend a school district that provides an iPad to […]

Illinois State Board Of Education Orders Schools To Begin Remote Learning

Champaign Central High School

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 will continue until in-person classes resume.  These days are counted as school days and do not need to be made up at the end of year.  Districts are instructed to […]

Cafeteria Workers, School Staff On The Front Lines Delivering Food To Illinois Students

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 south of Springfield.  While most teachers aren’t in the building, Mahan is still going to work each school day to prepare pre-packaged meals for students — including breakfast and lunch. […]