Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Newsroom is a regional journalism collaboration focused on expanding access to trusted, timely and relevant information across three key statewide topics: Education, Political Impact and Health/Environment.

Ways to Connect

Small internet service providers in Illinois are optimistic after the farm bill – which President Trump recently signed – included more money for expanding high-speed internet access in sparsely populated areas.

The law earmarks $350 million annually for loans and grants for broadband projects. That’s on top of $600 million set aside earlier this year for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Re-Connect program.

Steph Whiteside/WSIU

 

Few people like going to the doctor. But for some, that fear is compounded by discrimination and history. For black Americans, the pervasive history of racism in America bleeds into virtually every facet of life, including the doctor’s office — with devastating results.

Rahim Khalil is a beauty supply store owner in Carbondale. He also has a degree in social work. As a black man, he says he’s felt disrespected by the medical system, and he’s talked to customers with similar feelings.

Come January 14, Illinois will have a new

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 counselor at the community college he attended. He was told he was a shoo-in.

He sat down at his computer and started the application. But then Miner faced this question: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

“I just sat there and stared at the screen for like 10 minutes,” he said. “It was like everything, every advancement I had made so far might be over with, maybe this is the end of the ride.”

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 she plans to introduce legislation early next year to tax and regulate the use and sale of marijuana. Incoming Democratic governor J.B.

A new report says Illinois lacks comprehensive guidelines when it comes to dealing with sexual misconduct cases in elementary and high schools.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, a few high school students are measuring and cutting siding.

They’re building a house in the trades class at the Capital Area Career Center in Springfield and learning construction skills, like putting on a roof or installing a window.

Shelby Landers is one of the students hammering siding on to the front of the house. The 17-year-old senior says he was happy to leave the classroom and get more hands-on experience.

Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and a new crop of legislators will take office come January. Those crafting state education policies say they will continue one of the biggest fights in recent years, finding more funding for teachers, students and schools.

Illinois prison inmates will continue to pay $5 for medical and dental visits, after the legislature tried and failed to get rid of the fee last week.

Prison reform advocates want to eliminate the co-pay, saying it deters inmates from seeking necessary treatment. An Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman emphasized that no one is denied care for not being able to pay.  

The effort to get rid of the co-pay comes at a time when medical care in the correctional system is under scrutiny due to a class-action lawsuit in federal court.

Fields, crops and farm animals are part of the agriculture-industry landscape, but an increasingly small one.

The number of farm and ranch managers shrunk by about 20 percent between 1996 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. At the same time, there are more students graduating from ag colleges, and, in many parts of the country, 80 percent to 90 percent of them find a job (or go for an advanced degree) within a few months of graduating.

Man holding a sign saying recovery matters
Flickr/Sacred Heart

 

Earlier this year, we covered the difficulties faced by Illinoisans in recovery - especially those who had successfully detoxed, and were hoping to change their lives and stay sober. One of the challenges people faced was finding help getting their lives back on track.

 

Students across Illinois are calling for tougher campus policies on sexual harassment and misconduct as the Trump administration proposes changes to federal law that victims’ rights advocates say would weaken guidelines that are already lacking.

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 more than two dozen state prisons last year. I also reported that figure represents a dramatic decrease in spending since the early 2000s when IDOC was spending roughly three-quarters of a million dollars per year on books in prisons.

How Seeking Justice Retraumatizes Assault Survivors

Nov 14, 2018
An officer placing evidence into a labeled plastic bag
ICASA

 

Rape and sexual assault are issues that have dominated the headlines recently. The response to those stories - whether they are about Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Cosby, or #MeToo - reveals a divide among Americans on what to do when someone says they’ve been assaulted.

As a society, we are still struggling to understand how rape and sexual assault affect victims and how to seek justice for these crimes.  

 

It’s an issue that hits close to home for a significant number of Americans.

 

E-Cigarette Use Soars Among Illinois Teens

Nov 13, 2018
People using e-cigarettes and exhaling vapor
Lindsay Fox/Flickr

E-cigarettes are setting anti-smoking efforts back by as much as a decade.

 

That’s what researchers found after analyzing this year’s Illinois Youth Survey.

 

This week’s election was expected to bring a second “Year of the Woman” to American politics.

After Tuesday, here’s what that looks like in Illinois: The state’s congressional delegation added one woman, and there will be at least one, maybe up to three, more women serving in Springfield come January.

Every college campus has standards and policies to prevent sexual harassment. But time and again, repeated complaints are filed against professors for saying and doing inappropriate things -- yet they often keep their jobs. Documents and interviews from two recent cases on campuses in Illinois shed some light on the reasons why this remains a persistent issue at many schools.

At the county health building in east Springfield, election judge trainees sit through a presentation and comb through packets of information.

On November 6, they’ll check voter rolls, hand out ballots and oversee counting machines.

One group at the training sticks out; about a dozen high school students sit together in the back of the room.

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 also made her want to help people like herself when she was released from prison.

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.

Preschool is a key part of building a solid foundation for lifelong learning, some experts even say it’s 

President Donald Trump signed America's Water Infrastructure Act on Tuesday, which authorizes work on many projects around the U.S., ranging from water treatment to mitigating invasive species to transportation.

Erin Cetindag and Delaney Flattery stopped by the Sangamon County building to vote early on a recent Saturday. The two college students were home in Springfield on break from schools out-of-state.

"That was the most fun test I’ve ever taken," laughed Cetindag, a senior at American University.

"We turned it in and got stickers," Flattery, a senior at Butler University added.

When asked about the gender diversity of the candidates they just voted for, both noticed something.

Worried About Voting? Here’s What You Need To Know

Oct 18, 2018
Wood tiles spelling vote.
Wokandapix / Pixabay

Election day is looming and we’ve gotten questions through our Ask The Newsroom project about things that could go wrong on election day. Here’s what you can do if you run into trouble while voting.

 

 

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. He’s the superintendent of both districts, located near the border of Wisconsin —  about 70 miles northwest of Chicago.

Athens is a town like many others in central Illinois. With a population of about 2,000, it’s rural, and encapsulated by fields of crops like corn and soybeans. Visitors driving into town off the interstate are ushered in by numerous American flags and a welcome sign listing several area churches.

Illinois Newsroom holds Listening Sessions across the state to hear what's top of mind for community members. 

You might have seen social media posts saying Tuesday was the voter registration deadline in Illinois.

But don’t worry: Illinois residents can sign up to vote through Election Day.

Two competitive judicial races for circuit court are on the ballot in Champaign County this year, which doesn’t happen often. Illinois elects its circuit judges to six-year terms, after which they run unopposed to be retained and are rarely unseated.

Pages