Education and Family

U-S Senator Dick Durbin visited the Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine in Springfield  on Friday.  He announced an increase in federal funding for medical research for this year.

 

Durbin says the government will pay $2 billion more to study and treat diseases. The Democrat held up a 3-D model of an infant heart with a birth defect as an example of how advances in medical research can help families. His late daughter, Christine, had the same heart defect as the 3D model when she was born.

Illinois AP Exam Results Mixed

Jan 8, 2016

Data released by the state show participation in Advanced Placement classes has surged in Illinois in the past five years, while passing rates on AP exams have slipped. The AP results for public high schools obtained through the public records law, show about 95,000 students took some 176,000 AP exams in May, with nearly 40 percent of exams scoring below a 3. A 3 or above is considered passing on the exams' 5-point scale.  

ISU School of Communication

Illinois State University figures to be at ground zero when President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address next week. ISU's American Democracy Project will serve as the national collegiate hub for social media and other activity during the annual speech next Tuesday. WGLT's Willis Kern speaks with event coordinator Steve Hunt, Director of Illinois State's School of Communication.

Woodlywonderworks / Creative Commons

Officials studying safety in Illinois schools say local authorities should adopt sound existing guidelines for securing the schoolhouse, build trust in students to come forward with their suspicions, and consult regularly with local police.

Children will be able to bring canine companions with them to court, starting in the new year. A law taking effect in 20-16 allows dogs to accompany kids, as well as developmentally disabled adults, during trials. The measure's sponsored by Senator Scott Bennett, a Champaign Democrat and former prosecutor.

Illinois will stop giving the ACT college entrance exam and instead start giving high school juniors the rival SAT. The Chicago Tribune reports the company that offers the ACT has filed a protest with the state seeking to cancel Illinois' contract with the College Board, which offers the SAT.

David Bentlin

The Prairie Pride Coalition is working with the results of a Multi-Cultural Leadership Program survey to address the needs and priorities of  lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people in McLean County.  The survey was completed about a year ago and since then the PPC, using the results of the survey, has been working to develop programming and increase communication with the LGBT community.

More Trouble For College of DuPage

Dec 17, 2015
James C. Svehla / College of DuPage

An accreditation agency has put the troubled College of DuPage in suburban Chicago on probation for two years. The school made the Higher Learning Commission's decision public on Wednesday. The school remains accredited, but being on probation means it has two years to address concerns from the commission. If the school doesn't address those concerns, the commission could withdraw accreditation. The school will be evaluated again in 2017. The commission says it found concerns with the college's integrity in its financial, academic, personnel and other functions.

$203,000 Raised For The Baby Fold

Dec 16, 2015
Michael Hill / WGLT

The Baby Fold in Normal is closing the gap in a budget deficit created by reductions in funding from the state. The organization provides adoption and placement services for infants and has an annual operating deficit of $1.9 million this year.

A large University of Illinois employee union has approved a three-year contract with the Urbana-Champaign campus.  Local 3700 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees OK'd the pact tentatively agreed to last month.  The deal affects about 1,000 clerical, child-care, library support staff and other university employees, along with about 300 in University of Illinois Extension offices across the state.

Chicago Teachers Authorize Strike

Dec 14, 2015

Chicago Teachers Union members overwhelmingly have voted to authorize their leaders to call a strike, although a final decision on a walkout would be months away. The union says 88% of eligible members who voted marked yes to authorize leaders to call a strike. State law says 75 percent of membership must approve strike authorization. Union officials say March is likely the earliest teachers could walk off the job.  

PARCC Test Results On Par With Naitonal Assessments

Dec 14, 2015

Illinois students took a new kind of standardized test last year --the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — and the results were released Friday.  IPR's Dusty Rhodes has more.

A northern Illinois school district is banning "team prayers" at high school sporting events after a Wisconsin-based organization complained about the practice. Naperville Community Unit School District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges says he will enact a ban on coach-led prayer at all Naperville Central High School and Naperville North High School student athletic events.

Teacher Unions Hail ESSA

Dec 11, 2015

Illinois Teachers Union leaders are hailing the replacement for the No Child Left Behind Law. The new law, referred to as ESSA, passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. Cinda Klickna, president of Illinois Education Association, says teachers are relieved that ESSA allows schools to be judged by a broader measures.

She says ESSA also gives states more flexibility in setting standards for student achievement.

Educators also appreciate the flexibility it provides to states.

President Obama has signed the measure into law.

University of Illinois has formed a committee to build the core curriculum of its new engineering-based medical school at the Urbana-Champaign campus. The university has announced the committee will be led by co-chairs Dr. Robert Good and Professor Rashid Bashir. Good is the senior associate medical director of population health at Carle Health System. Bashir heads the department of bioengineering at University of Illinois.  

Illinois State University

Illinois State University has named a new Dean for the College of Business. He is Ajay Samant who is currently a professor of finance and former Dean at the Coggin College of Business at the University of North Florida. ISU Provost Janet Krejci says Samant's previous accomplishments include fundraising, program development, accreditation, and administration of international programs. Samant also formed the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at North Florida. He has also taught and served in administration at Western Michigan University.

The Mitsubishi Motors USA Foundation is donating $20,000 to the Tri-County Operation Cool. That program focuses on teens to increase seat belt usage in nineteen schools with about 10,000 students in McLean, Dewitt, and Livingston Counties. It also emphasizes sober driving and school enrollment.

Clotee Allochuku / Flickr

The Bloomington-Normal chapter of Not In Our Town is taking aim at bullying, discrimination and hate talk in the public schools. The group, which promotes racial and cultural understanding, is launching Not In Our Schools with a series of training sessions for students at the high school and junior high levels. Camille Taylor, a retired educator and one of the coordinators, says Not In Our Town's wants to train student leaders who can tackle common social problems in the schools.

Beyond My Ken / Creative Commons

The University of Illinois has committed nearly $5 million to build a new African-American Cultural Center at its Champaign-Urbana campus. Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson talked about the project in an end-of-semester message. The cultural center has been using temporary quarters since its original home had to close for safety reasons last year. The new Bruce D. Nesbitt African-American Cultural Center is scheduled to open by 2018. A site selection committee is evaluating possible locations and will make a recommendation to the chancellor's capital review committee.

Catholic Church Annulments Changing

Dec 8, 2015
The Catholic Post / Peoria, IL

Catholics will find it easier to seek a marriage annulment, as changes to the process announced by Pope Francis in September go into effect this week. The additional process will make it easier for practicing Catholics who divorce their first spouses to remarry in the church. 

Jim Browne / WGLT

A Bloomington man whose preparedness and rapid response likely saved a neighbor's life, is honored by the Fire Department. On Thanksgiving day, David Cummings was able to use his personal fire extinguisher to put out a fire at the apartment next door at Woodhill towers. Bloomington Fire Chief Brian Mohr says Cummings actions that day deserve recognition.

Tony Faiola / Flickr

About half the people involved in the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino escaped the situation without physical injury even though they were boxed in when the two shooters came into the room. The horrific scenario raises the question what people should do if they are confronted with a hostile someone wielding a gun or other weapon. WGLT's Charlie Schlenker took up the issue of best practices with Curt Richardson, the safety director for Unit Five Schools. Richardson says the recommended responses to emergency situations have changed in the last decade.

Matt Hickman

The phrase "prayer shaming" entered the lexicon of many last week as the New York Daily News called out politicians in a position to do something about gun violence once again offering their "thoughts and prayers." WGLT's Mike McCurdy talks with Mennonite Church of Normal pastor Matt Hickman about the intersection of prayer and action.

Community Colleges Struggling

Nov 30, 2015

As the state enters its sixth month without a budget, community colleges are facing a dim prospect. Tom Ramage, president of Parkland College, says the gridlock could mean zero state revenue for this fiscal year.

Higher education is a difficult industry right now. That's according to new Illinois Wesleyan University President Eric Jensen. Many colleges have gone for years without worker pay raises. Jensen tells GLT costs have been pared down ruthlessly and an equilibrium is still developing.

Jensen says he is optimistic about IWU and says it remains a gem.

Jensen says IWU is in a strong position to define itself in a way that other liberal arts colleges may not be able to. He says that will have economic consequences.

 

The University of Illinois took an unusual step this year to increase its in-state enrollment, accepting students with lower entrance-exam scores to enroll while increasing financial aid by several million dollars.  
The moves worked. In-state enrollment jumped by 11 percent, to 5,490 from 4,927 a year earlier. The average ACT score for freshmen dropped by less than a point for in-state students at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus.  

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