Education and Family | WGLT

Education and Family

Parkside Elementary Receives Honor

Feb 4, 2016
Unit Five Schools

Even as the percentage of poorer students went up at Parkside Elementary School, test scores rose too. The school, and one in Chicago, are being honored for that accomplishment. Shelly Erickson was principal at the school during the years targeted by the board, she says teachers at Parkside used a new approach to reading.

Majeed Sayed

Earlier this week, President Obama visited a Baltimore mosque to signal he wants Americans to increase their understanding of Muslims living in the U.S. On Saturday, one of the three Twin Cities mosques will hold an open house where non-Muslims can join in prayer and ask questions about Islam.

Unit Five Schools say no students were injured in the crash of a bus carrying special needs students. There were six Normal Community West High School students on board the bus during the mishap at Linden and Raab after school. Unit Five says parents signed two of the six out of school supervision. The remaining four were taken to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center for precautionary checks.


Illinois State University President Larry Dietz says there will be no layoffs or furloughs on campus at least through the end of the school year.

Charlie Schlenker

Heartland Head Start says even though it is largely federally funded, the uncertain state financial situation has eroded its budget too.

A Unit Five School bus has been involved in a crash. A School District spokeswoman says some of the six special needs students on board have been taken to the hospital as a precaution. She says she is not sure how many because parents have the option to decline transport if notified of a situation. The incident happened after school at Linden and Raab in Normal. The bus carried Normal West High School students.  

Steve Pettaway / US Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will appear at a public event next month at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The university's College of Law says she will conduct a wide-ranging hour-long discussion with Professor Robin B. Kar. The March 7 event is free, but tickets are required. Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court in 2009. She is the country's first Hispanic justice.

MAP Bill Stalled

Feb 1, 2016

Illinois' Senate President is encouraging Governor Bruce Rauner to rethink his priorities on student aid legislation ... but the governor was quick to repeat his promise of a veto.
Senate President John Cullerton says he'll hold onto the legislation for a couple of weeks, to give the governor time to "cool off," then he'll end it along. In a statement, Cullerton urges Rauner to "not act rashly, but in the best interest of students."

Woodlywonderworks / Creative Commons

Some Illinois students are being left out of certain state exams under a new practice that gives school administrators flexibility to filter testing rosters. Federal law requires students be tested annually in reading, and at least once in math during high school.

A Chicago Tribune analysis shows that Illinois school officials are allowed to determine students' eligibility for the state's Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams based on particular course participation, and not grade level.

Heartland Community College

A life long Bloomington Normal area farmer has left Heartland Community College $1.5 million in his will. The largest ever donation to the community college in Normal comes from the estate of Raymond and Beulah Thompson. Second Cousin Brenda Thompson says they were a simple, unassuming couple who you'd never think of as wealthy.

Ben Larcey / Urbanwheel

Illinois State University says hover boards are too much of a fire risk. Eric Jome is the Director of ISU Media Relations. Hover boards are battery-operated, self-balancing scooters. Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Brent Paterson says that there have been a numerous cases of hover boards overheating and catching fire while charging.

Challenger Learning Center

30 years ago the space shuttle Challenger blew up as it was reaching for the sky, killing its crew. Charlie Schlenker talks with Stacey Shrewsbury, the Director of the Challenger Learning Center at Heartland Community College, and Libby Norcross, the Flight Director at the center about the anniversary.

Illinois State University Helps Women Become Cops

Jan 28, 2016
Department of Criminal Justice Sciences / Illinois State University

There are not a lot of female cops. Only 13% of police in the US are women. A program at Illinois State University is changing that, one cop at a time. WGLT's Jim Browne has the story.

On April 1, 1908, 48-year old Lola Baldwin was sworn in as a "female detective to perform police service" for Portland, Oregon. It's believed she was the first female law enforcement officer hired by an American city or town.

Charlie Schlenker

Mitsubishi Workers have not been taking great advantage of education workshops on worforce issues since the layoffs of about a thousand workers at the plant in Normal last year. But, Charlie Schlenker finds out there is a lot still being offered. Lindsay Thompson is a customized training coordinator at Heartland Community College.

Illinois Wesleyan University has snagged a $350,000 grant to increase student engagement. The issue is not new. But, Provost Jonathan Green says today's college students are more diverse, poorer, and have less family tradition of going to college than past generations.

The Mellon Foundation is offering the money to Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington to develop new courses and teaching methods to reach the new model students. Green says faculty and administrators say they can also be better prepared to meet the intercultural needs of today's students.

Chicago Public Schools officials say they're sending layoff notices to 227 administrative employees and closing up nearly 200 positions that were already vacant. The nation's third-largest school district says 57 employees would be able to reapply for 35 positions. The district has been scaling back on administrative positions for months. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that his goal has been to ``protect the classroom'' from cuts as the district grapples with a more than $1 billion budget deficit.

File / WGLT

The University of Illinois has now used 671 million dollars from its reserves to make up for a lack of state funding, due to the budget impasse in Springfield. That the word from U of I Chief Financial Officer Walter Knorr. He told U of I Trustees at their meeting in Chicago Thursday that the reserve funds spend include about 60-million dollars for the Monetary Awards Program, or MAP grants. For now, the university has taken care those grants for low-income students, but they could be asked to pay them back later. Knorr’s comments came on the same day Trustees voted to freeze tuition rates at current levels for the 2016-17 academic year. He says if there’s no state budget by May… the U of I needs to decides the future of those grants for the next fiscal year.

Illinois' nine public university presidents say in a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders that a failure to approve a budget soon could leave higher education damaged beyond repair. The letter says funds that have allowed several universities and community colleges to remain open through seven months of Fiscal year 2016 will soon run out and may result in closings. Officials of Chicago State University have said the school will run out of money in March.  

Taking the Bite out of Arthritis

Jan 19, 2016

Lack of Budget Worries Unit 5 Schools

Jan 19, 2016


Big changes will be coming in the way thousands of Bloomington Normal School children get to school. The Unit Five School district in McLean and neighboring Counties needs to cut a million dollars from its transportation line item to make next year's budget survivable. Charlie Schlenker talks with Superintendent Mark Daniel about the impossibility of making everyone happy no matter how the schedule gets rearranged.

Jody Christensen / Creative Commons

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen says he agrees with some of the concerns about excessive spending at public universities raised by an aide to Governor Bruce Rauner. He was among those to respond last week to the memo from Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Goldberg. Killeen says the university has taken steps to enhance the experience for the student… including an administrative hiring freeze on the administration, and other measure to make sure the U of I is ‘fiscally prudent.’


District 87 Schools in Bloomington are seeking candidates for two school board vacancies. The recruitment of quality volunteer leaders is a significant issue for boards and commissions throughout the county. And there is an age problem.

Bloomington School Board Seeks To Fill Vacancies

Jan 13, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

The Disctrict 87 School Board is looking for two new school board members. John Dirks resigned last month. Judith Webster announced her resignation Wednesday. Speaking of Webster, School Board President Jennifer Sedbrook said she has a passion for the arts. "Getting students involved in art and dance and drama and band, she was very committed to that. And that was a voice that was very helpful to have on the board."


Hundreds of middle class jobs exited the Bloomington Normal community with the end of production at the Mitsubishi plant in Normal and in announced Caterpillar layoffs.

ISU President Dietz Talks Successes and MAP Grants

Jan 13, 2016

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.