Dusty Rhodes

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It’s not often that students get to shape university policy, but that’s just what happened today at a meeting of the University of Illinois' Board of Trustees. Thanks to a change in the university’s strategic plan proposed by a student member of the U-I Board of Trustees, University of Illinois officials are being encouraged to think about race in a new way.

Illinois’ school funding formula relies heavily on property taxes.

 

That leaves districts with low land values to make do with about six thousand dollars per student each year, while districts with thriving businesses can spend up to five times that amount.

 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that Illinois needs to change the formula, but they get caught on the question of how.

Public schools were singled out in Governor Bruce Rauner's budget address yesterday as one of the rare state services he’s happy to fund. In fact, he said increasing education funding is the one thing that he will not back down on.

The budget that Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed yesterday recommends a 16 percent cut to higher education. This year's proposed cut sounds gentler than the 32 percent reduction Rauner recommended last year. But instead of being spread across higher education, virtually all of the pain would fall upon the state's universities.

Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan today announced that he will re-convene hearings on the state’s education funding formula. The state's current formula relies heavily on property taxes, creating a big disparity among schools based on their geographic location. Some districts can spend more than $32,000 per student every year, while others scrape by on a fraction of that amount. 

The state budget impasse has largely spared public schools, thanks to Governor Bruce Rauner’s decision to fund them for the entire year. But some school districts are still hurting. 

Legislation filed Wednesday asks the state to provide $168 million owed to low-income college students who were promised MAP grants last fall.

When a police officer, firefighter or prison guard is killed or disabled in the line of duty, the state promises to provide their dependents with a college education. But the budget impasse has put that promise on hold, says Eric Zarnikow, director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

For the past eight years, federal lawmakers have been debating No Child Left Behind — a measure that led to a reliance on standardized testing as a way to ensure that students were getting a good education.

VICE News has published an investigation of American universities with ties to the military, police, and intelligence communities. Southern Illinois University in Carbondale ranked number 23, due to the number of alums who work in “top secret” jobs. The amount of funding SIU receives from national security and defense agencies was another factor.

The Illinois State Board of Education is inviting the public to help set standards for school safety. Below is the board's press release. Note that an email address at the end provides a way to share your comment if you can't attend a hearing.

Illinois students may have more schools to choose from in the near future.

  

A researcher on national education issues came to central Illinois this week to give teachers a back-to-school pep talk and to give them ideas on how to improve kids' learning.

John Draper, a former middle school teacher and principal, works for the National School Public Relations Association. It's his job to tout neighborhood schools, and he did plenty of that in his presentation to Macon County teachers this week. 

But Draper also pitched a few ideas that would shake up traditional school calendars. 

Illinois’ popular truth-in-tuition law was designed to keep college affordable. But, it might be having the opposite effect.


Governor Bruce Rauner has approved the portion of the state budget earmarked for public schools. His move yesterday ensures schools will be able to open on time.

The legislation even increases funding for education by more than $200 million dollars over the previous year. But the new money has strings attached.

The American Association of University Professors voted today to censure the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state’s flagship university. Censure is a means of informing the academic community worldwide that the administration of an institution “has not adhered to generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.”

 
A measure pending in the Illinois legislature would give parents the right to have their children skip 

    

The recent surge in cases of measles across the United States has focused attention on the choices families make about immunizing their children. Like most parents, the young married couple I’m about to introduce you to has tried to do everything possible to ensure their baby is healthy. 

"We made our own food," the dad says.

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