WBEZ | Education http://www.wbez.org/news/education Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Music Program Teaches About the Civil Rights Movement http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-12/music-program-teaches-about-civil-rights-movement-114838 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Music-Eddie Welker-Flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Sometimes teaching and learning about history can be a little dry. Teachers reach for new ways to capture students&rsquo; attention.</p><p>A new program in some Chicago Public Schools uses the music of the 1960s and &lsquo;70s to talk about the social justice movements that really defined the decades. Jeanne Warsaw-Gazga started Me-Ma Music, Motivate and Encourage Music Appreciation, after working for many years in the music industry. She explains why she thought it was needed and how it&rsquo;s growing.</p></p> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 15:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-12/music-program-teaches-about-civil-rights-movement-114838 Wheaton “Resolution” Just a Beginning, for Some http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/wheaton-%E2%80%9Cresolution%E2%80%9D-just-beginning-some-114818 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Wheaton_Hawkins.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Wheaton College and a former professor signalled an end this week to a highly public conflict over religious expression. But at the very same hour, students at the conservative evangelical Christian school launched a faith-based action to elevate social justice issues that they say the rift highlighted on the campus and beyond.</p><p dir="ltr">Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor at the evangelical Christian school, will be leaving Wheaton College. Hawkins was put on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-23/wheaton-professor-talk-next-steps-wbez-114270">administrative leave</a> in December for comments she posted on Facebook. She cited Pope Francis in saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The school <a href="http://www.wheaton.edu/Media-Center/Media-Relations/Statements/Wheaton-College-Statement-Regarding-Dr-Hawkins">said</a> Hawkins&rsquo;s social media remarks &ldquo;appear to be in conflict with the College&rsquo;s Statement of Faith,&rdquo; which articulates the school&rsquo;s doctrinal beliefs, and which all faculty are required to sign and affirm each year.</p><p dir="ltr">At a joint press conference on Wednesday, where school administrators and Hawkins declined to take questions from the media, no information was shared regarding the mutual decision to part ways. But Wheaton College President Philip Ryken acknowledged that the conflict caused pain and stress for the school community over the last two months. &ldquo;We are saddened by the brokenness that we have experienced in our relationship and for the suffering this has caused on our campus and beyond,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And yet we are grateful to come to a place of resolution and reconciliation.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Ryken thanked Hawkins for developing the school&rsquo;s Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies, and announced that the college will establish an endowed scholarship to fund summer internships for students in that discipline.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In saying that Wheaton College is reconciled to Larycia Hawkins, we are not saying that everyone on every side of this conflict is totally satisfied, nor are we saying that we simply move on without addressing the issues that brought us to this place,&rdquo; Ryken said. &ldquo;But we are saying that we are moving forward in genuine friendship, wishing each other well, and wanting to bless each other in our work.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Hawkins noted that their announcement fell on Ash Wednesday, the beginning to the Lenten season leading up to Easter. &ldquo;A season to reflect on where we are on our spiritual journeys, who we are, and what we are becoming,&rdquo; she said. Hawkins exhorted her supporters to express their acts of &ldquo;embodied solidarity&rdquo; to fight social injustices.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;May we, as people, stand with all of our neighbors, and not ever categorize or demonize our neighbors. And call upon our politicians and elites in society to do the same,&rdquo; said Hawkins. &ldquo;From their religious pulpits, to their presidential pulpits -- to call us as one. To call humans humans, and not categories of people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>40-day Fast</strong></span><br />At the same hour, students, alumni and supporters from other Christian institutions gathered outside the west suburban school&rsquo;s chapel, singing Christian songs. They were kicking off a nationwide 40-day Fast of Embodied Solidarity. Sophomore Esther Kao said the fast is students&rsquo; way to continue what Hawkins&rsquo;s had started on campus.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not going to allow ourselves to be a homogenous community that just agrees with the administration without questioning it,&rdquo; said Kao. &ldquo;And I feel like this protest is--It&rsquo;s a hopeful protest, and we hope for changes to happen on campus.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/246409926&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">The handling of Hawkins&rsquo;s case prompted serious and uncomfortable discussions among students and faculty about how the school treats minorities, how it engages with outside religions and social issues, and its overall position within the evangelical Christian landscape. Hawkins was Wheaton&rsquo;s first tenured, female African-American professor. A leaked memo by the school&rsquo;s faculty diversity committee <a href="http://time.com/4208102/wheaton-college-larycia-hawkins-discrimination/">reportedly</a> found that the handling of her case was discriminatory on the basis of race, gender and possibly even marital status.</p><p dir="ltr">Student Maryam Bighash said Hawkins created a space on the campus finally to discuss those issues. &ldquo;Now it&rsquo;s not about Dr. Hawkins anymore,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s about, really, minorities. People who are not being heard, people who don&rsquo;t have a voice.&rdquo; Bighash said she wants to see students engage more actively with real-world issues that haven&rsquo;t penetrated what she describes as a Wheaton &ldquo;bubble&rdquo; -- such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and treatment of Muslims in the U.S. She and other organizers of the fast kicked off the observance with a training session with activists from outside religious institutions, to begin learning the basics of faith-based organizing. They plan to continue training with those religious leaders during the remainder of the school year.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Reconciliation and questions</strong></span><br />For many on campus, questions remain -- such as, what was the role of outside players, including wealthy donors and influential cultural and political figures, in fanning the controversy? Why, ultimately, did Hawkins agree to leave the campus, and what were the terms of her departure? Will a review of the handling of the case, tasked to the Board of Trustees, be fair and honest? And what does &ldquo;reconciliation&rdquo; -- a term used many times in the school over the past week -- really look like?</p><p dir="ltr">Some on campus say a reconciliation has gotten off to a promising start, beginning with a campus-wide email sent by Provost Stanton Jones. In it, Jones apologized for his handling of Hawkins&rsquo;s administrative leave, the &ldquo;fracture&rdquo; of her relationship with the school, and for &ldquo;imposing administrative leave more precipitously than was necessary.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I believe that his email was one of the most important communications in this whole controversy,&rdquo; said Noah Toly, a professor of Political Science and International Relations. &ldquo;It was humble, courageous and gracious. An extraordinary act of confession.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Toly said the school also was right to hold a &ldquo;reconciliation service&rdquo; this week, where Hawkins spoke to the community for a final time. He and about a dozen other faculty converged at a downtown Wheaton pub after the worship service.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I do think that we began to do the work tonight that we&rsquo;re going to need to do,&rdquo; said Toly, reflecting on the service. &ldquo;It may take a long time. The chaplain pointed out it could take 40 days of Lent, it could take 40 weeks, it could take 40 years to handle some of the structural institutional issues -- that are real -- that are behind all this.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Yolanda Perdomo contributed to this report.<br />Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/wheaton-%E2%80%9Cresolution%E2%80%9D-just-beginning-some-114818 Principals React to Middle of the School Year Budget Cuts http://www.wbez.org/news/education/principals-react-middle-school-year-budget-cuts-114803 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/flickr_OpenSourceviaUSNationalArchives.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Nearly every one of Chicago&rsquo;s 654 public schools will have to cut its spending plan for the next four months. The average amount lost per school is about $60,000, which amounts to about one or two teachers for the remainder of the school year.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s an unprecedented move to make in the middle of the school year and it comes as the district is <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/02/09/466186359/power-struggle-over-future-of-public-schools-heats-up-in-chicago">trying to pressure</a> state legislators to increase funding to the district and pressure the teachers union to agree to concessions in their next contract.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These painful reductions are not the steps that we want to take, but they are the steps we must take as our cash position becomes tighter every day,&rdquo; CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. &ldquo;Our hope is that we will be able to reach an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union, which will allow us to roll back these personnel reductions before we have to give notice to employees at the end of this month.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">To soften the blow, the district used federal money earmarked for poor children -- known as Title I -- and federal money earmarked for instruction and professional development -- known as Title II. It still left many of the city&rsquo;s wealthiest schools hardest hit.</p><p dir="ltr">Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary in Lakeview, said it&rsquo;s suspicious that the district was &ldquo;hiding away federal and state funds from the budget picture for an entire year and then all of a sudden they appear magically out of the blue.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">LaRaviere said he has to cut about $127,000, which could amount to about five positions for the remaining four months of the school year.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is not just a layoff,&rdquo; LaRaviere said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s certainly a shame in itself, but the bigger shame is that each one of those people who loses their job was providing a critical service to a student and students no longer get that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">LaRaviere also blasted Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his allies for using students as &ldquo;pawns in a political game&rdquo; against the teachers union. He referenced some <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/aldermen-stall-tif-surplus-plan-for-cps">drama that took place at City Hall yesterday</a> when aldermen delayed a move that could have led to CPS getting extra money from special taxing district&rsquo;s known as TIFs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The mayor had his allies block that legislation just yesterday, as he&rsquo;s claiming he wishes he didn&rsquo;t have to make these cuts,&rdquo; LaRaviere said.</p><p dir="ltr">In all, 607 schools are seeing reductions in their budgets and 48 are seeing increases. Strangely, two schools -- Montefiore and Marine Military Academy -- that have <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/08/montefiore-now-a-school-without-students-but-says-cps-it-is-not-closed/">no students enrolled, but are technically still open on paper</a>, will get about $1,500 in extra money. CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said that money would go back to the operating budget if the Board of Education votes to officially close those schools later this month.</p><p dir="ltr">Nate Pietrini, principal of Hawthorne Scholastic Academy, also in Lakeview, will have to cut about $95,000.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The number was a little bit higher than I thought it was going to be,&rdquo; Pietrini said. But he said he doesn&rsquo;t anticipate laying off any teachers.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s because Hawthorne has outside income, from things like renting out the school&rsquo;s turf field, Pietrini said. But he acknowledged that most schools don&rsquo;t have that kind of extra money. &nbsp;He added that it&rsquo;s frustrating to have to use that money to plug holes created by the district instead of investing the money in new programs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;(Parents) want to move forward with some of the things we plan and save and budget for, but they feel like we&rsquo;re constantly in a holding pattern as a school because of the fear of layoffs and the fear of budget cuts,&rdquo; Pietrini said.</p><p dir="ltr">Charter schools will also feel the mid-year cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">The Noble Street Charter School Network, the city&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-09/education-magazine-takes-readers-inside-chicago%E2%80%99s-biggest-charter">largest group of publicly funded, privately operated charters</a>, will see $1.8 million cut from its 16 high schools.</p><p dir="ltr">Cody Rogers, a spokesman for Noble, said each individual campus won&rsquo;t likely feel the cuts, and it&rsquo;s also not likely any teachers will be laid off.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The good thing is that we, in a way, planned for this when we were doing our budget planning last year,&rdquo; Rogers said. &ldquo;At the campus level, particularly in the classrooms, there really shouldn&rsquo;t be much effect.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Because of how CPS sends money to charter schools, their reductions will be made in the final, fourth-quarter payment that comes later this spring.</p><p>District-run schools, like Blaine and Hawthorne, will have until next Tuesday to adjust their budgets and send changes to central office.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/principals-react-middle-school-year-budget-cuts-114803 Students of Wheaton College Plan a Fast for Solidarity http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-10/students-wheaton-college-plan-fast-solidarity-114791 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Wheaton_Flickr_Carl&#039;s Captures.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Wheaton College students will embark on a hunger fast after a scheduled reconciliation for professor Larycia Hawkins. The school halted its termination process of the tenured professor and both agreed to part ways.&nbsp;Odette Yousef, WBEZ Northside Bureau Reporter, gives us an update.</p></p> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-10/students-wheaton-college-plan-fast-solidarity-114791 Education Magazine Takes Readers Inside Chicago’s Biggest Charter Network http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-09/education-magazine-takes-readers-inside-chicago%E2%80%99s-biggest-charter <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Noble Charter_Flickr_US Dpt Edu.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools are at a critical moment. CPS took out more than 700-million in high-interest bonds last week, and they&rsquo;re talking about 100-million in cuts. Meanwhile, the teachers union is talking about a possible strike, and student numbers continue to decline.</p><p>As this all unfolds, Noble, Chicago&rsquo;s largest charter school network, keep moving forward with expansion plans. Catalyst associate editors Melissa Sanchez and Kalyn Belsha take us inside the Noble charter network, where one out of every 10 kids in the CPS system get their&nbsp;education.</p></p> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 20:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-09/education-magazine-takes-readers-inside-chicago%E2%80%99s-biggest-charter Confused About Your Student Loans? You're Not Alone http://www.wbez.org/news/confused-about-your-student-loans-youre-not-alone-114773 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/grad.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Americans have about $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. And there&#39;s yet another&nbsp;<a href="https://lendedu.com/blog/January-student-loan-survey">survey</a>out that shows students in this country are confused about their loans, in the dark when it comes to knowing what they&#39;ve borrowed, uncertain about how to pay them back.</p><p>I&#39;ve written before about how&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/11/16/415212006/did-you-know-you-can-lower-your-student-loan-payments-i-didnt">I was one of those people</a>. My federal student loans were a constant source of stress, and after doing the math I figured I was paying more than 30 percent of my income every month in loan payments. And because of high-interest rates, I was deeper in debt than when I graduated.</p><p>And then came my epiphany, courtesy of President Obama and his 2014 State of the Union address: &quot;We&#39;re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their income,&quot; the President said.</p><p>That opened my eyes to the opportunities out there, and to the importance of keeping informed about your rights and options.</p><p>Loan servicers, the companies that manage student loans for the Department of Education, don&#39;t have a mandate or incentive to tell borrowers about these programs. And borrowers don&#39;t get to choose their servicers, either.</p><p>And so, with that in mind, here are three of the best sources for information that can help if you&#39;re having trouble paying your loans, or you&#39;re just confused about how the process works.</p><p><strong>Tips For Recent Grads</strong></p><p>Did you know that different loans have different grace periods, or that there are opportunities &mdash; in some cases &mdash; for loan forgiveness? No? Well, the Institute for College Access &amp; Success&nbsp;<a href="http://ticas.org/content/posd/top-10-student-loan-tips-recent-graduates">has a tip sheet</a>&nbsp;for recent grads to explain these and other key points that can help you make good decisions.</p><p><strong>A Tool For Knowing Your Options</strong></p><p>The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has built a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/repay-student-debt/">question-by-question tool</a>&nbsp;for getting you more familiar with your loans and understanding how you can pay them off. That&#39;s no matter if your loans are federal &mdash; through the government &mdash; or private through a bank.</p><p><strong>Calculating Repayment Options</strong></p><p><a href="https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/mobile/repayment/repaymentEstimator.action">Studentloans.gov</a>&nbsp;has a helpful payment estimator to figure out which of the (many) repayment plans might be best for you. Enter your annual income, your remaining loan balance, your interest rate, and let the machine do its magic. These are just estimates, but can be very helpful.</p><p>As we&#39;ve&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/06/26/412870161/5-ideas-to-ease-the-burden-of-student-loans">pointed out before on NPR Ed</a>, there are five income-driven repayment plans from the Department of Education &mdash; most of which come with a chance for loan forgiveness. Recent findings show that, often, when borrowers do manage to find out about these plans, figuring out how to get into and stay in the programs can be another headache.</p><p>That conclusion&nbsp;<a href="http://www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-concerned-about-widespread-servicing-failures-reported-by-student-loan-borrowers/">is from the CFPB</a>, which asked for comments from the public last year. It was the first time borrowers had a place to report their experiences with their loans and their servicers. And they had a lot to say: The bureau got more than 30,000 comments.</p><p>Borrowers reported &quot;a wide range of sloppy, patchwork practices that can create obstacles for repayment,&quot; the bureau said. Many people reported that their records were lost, or customer service didn&#39;t have the latest information. That&#39;s just the beginning. The bureau suspects that problems with servicers have left borrowers vulnerable to scams.</p><p>Reading through the comments, it seems all too familiar. I&#39;m one of the 10 million borrowers who have seen their servicer change in the past five years.</p><p>Mine changed without notice when I tried to enroll in the&nbsp;<a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service">Public Service Loan Forgiveness</a>&nbsp;program. Then my records were lost and my payments more than doubled. Every time I spoke to someone in customer service, they had a different idea of how to fix the situation.</p><p>But I&#39;ve been diligent. I&#39;ve lowered my payments and I&#39;m on the road to loan forgiveness. While I once wondered if taking on so much debt to work at a nonprofit news network was worth it, I now think it was.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/02/07/465556666/confused-about-your-student-loans-youre-not-alone?ft=nprml&amp;f=465556666"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 10:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/confused-about-your-student-loans-youre-not-alone-114773 Here's What People are Saying About Barbie's Diversity Makeover http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/heres-what-people-are-saying-about-barbies-diversity-makeover-114739 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/barbie.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="The latest Mattel Barbie dolls created to increase representation and diversity." class="img" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/02/04/showimage-dcba5ca0711a65fdb56c1d308ff0470d707434c2-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="The latest Mattel Barbie dolls created to increase representation and diversity. (Courtesy of Mattel)" /></p><p>Last week, Mattel announced that Barbie is getting a makeover. A whole bunch of them, in fact. As last week,&nbsp;33 new Barbie dolls are available for purchase through the website, in three new body types &mdash; petite, tall, and curvy &mdash; and seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 14 &quot;face sculpts.&quot; We rounded up some sharp thoughts on this news, ranging from what this means for Mattel&#39;s bottom line to whether an widely hyped debut of Barbie&#39;s new looks is really a step forward.</p><p>Over at&nbsp;<em>The Atlantic, </em>Megan Garber&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/barbies-hips-dont-lie/432741/">says</a>&nbsp;the move is smart business strategy on Mattel&#39;s part, given its past&nbsp;<a href="http://nypost.com/2016/02/01/barbie-sales-strong-for-toymaker-mattel/">four years of sales declines</a>. Given that the company&#39;s 2015 line of racially diverse dolls, called the Fashionistas,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.morningstar.com/news/dow-jones/TDJNDN_2016020112545/mattel-revenue-grows-as-barbie-sales-increase.html">seemed to help</a>, this latest move seems like a good bet. Here&#39;s Garber:</p><blockquote><div><p>Mattel&#39;s expansion of Barbie&#39;s look...represents the basic, hopeful idea that diversity is valuable not just for diversity&#39;s sake (or,&nbsp;<a data-omni-click="r'article',r'link',r'14',r'432741'" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/magazine/has-diversity-lost-its-meaning.html?_r=0">as Anna Holmes recently put it</a>, as a kind of grudging obligation). Diversity is&mdash;much more pragmatically, much more transformatively &mdash; good business. If consumers can see themselves in their dolls, Mattel has calculated, they will be more likely to purchase those dolls.</p></div></blockquote><p>An essay by Bene Viera of&nbsp;Fusion&nbsp;suggests that for a lot of families, the politics of playtime are real, and deserve to be taken seriously. She&nbsp;<a href="http://fusion.net/story/262148/new-barbie-curvy-curly-hair/">recalls</a>&nbsp;the lengths her mother went through to pick out her toys:</p><blockquote><div><p>Although the original waifish, blonde hair blue-eyed Barbie reigned supreme on toy store shelves, I only had black Barbies. This was very important to my mother, so important that if a store didn&#39;t have any black Barbies she would drive to another that did. She never explained why &mdash; and I never asked &mdash; but as an adult I understand that she knew it was crucial for me, a black girl coming of age in the 90s, to own dolls that looked like me. I am thankful she was proactive in making sure I saw myself reflected in the dolls I played with. Because whether people want to admit it or not, toys do shape how children view themselves.</p></div></blockquote><p>Over at Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth&nbsp;<a href="http://jezebel.com/mattel-cant-update-barbie-without-running-into-updated-1755665384">brings up</a>&nbsp;an interesting point: what if giving a curvy Barbie to a chubby child ends up doing more harm than good?</p><blockquote><div><p>It&#39;s unquestionably positive for girls to see a wider array of skin colors and body types represented positively. A more diverse Barbie is a good thing. But it&#39;s impossible to separate my personal response to this development from the fact that I was a Barbie-loving chubby child, and &mdash; as&nbsp;<em>Time&nbsp;</em>alludes to &mdash; my reaction to being singled out with a gift of the &quot;curvy&quot; Barbie might very well have been absolute devastation.</p></div></blockquote><p>Following Eliana Docketerman&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://time.com/barbie-new-body-cover-story/">exclusive interview</a>&nbsp;with Mattel in&nbsp;<em>Time&nbsp;</em>on the new Barbies,&nbsp;Jill Filipovic, also at&nbsp;<em>Time</em>, steps back to&nbsp;<a href="http://time.com/4196777/barbie-feminist-filipovic/">ask</a>&nbsp;a bigger picture question &mdash; whether the dolls are skinny or curvy, white or brown, are we really okay with what the Barbie brand represents?</p><blockquote><div><p>One pointy-toed step forward, though, is hardly a giant leap for womankind. Barbie is a literally objectified woman, not a superhero or an action figure but a plastic lady notable because she&#39;s pretty. And she remains a quintessential &#39;girls&#39; toy,&#39; Patient Zero in the pinkification pandemic that has infected toy stores for two generations and now prominently segregates &#39;girls&#39; toys&#39; (Dolls, Arts &amp; Crafts and Bath, Beauty &amp; Accessories on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.toysrus.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=2255956">ToysRUs.com</a>, for example) from &#39;boys&#39; toys&#39; (Action Figures, Video Games, Bikes &amp; Ride-ons).</p></div></blockquote><p>Speaking of representation and toys, Lego also took steps towards increased diversity last week, unveiling a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/jan/27/lego-unveils-disabled-minifigure-promobricks-nuremberg-toy-fair">new figurine that uses a wheelchair</a>. Unlike the hoopla around Barbie&#39;s new look, Lego was pretty low-key about its new toy, and Morwenna Jones at<em>The&nbsp;Independent</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/with-their-new-disabled-figure-lego-has-approached-diversity-issues-in-a-very-different-way-to-a6848846.html">compares</a>&nbsp;the two approaches:</p><blockquote><div><p>But unlike Barbie&#39;s new range, unveiled with an exclusive in&nbsp;<em>TIME&nbsp;</em>magazine and more press embargoes than Barbie has convertibles, Lego&#39;s latest character was simply placed in the middle of a busy park scene, sitting in his wheelchair as if it were the most natural thing in the world.</p><p>As other companies make grand, sweeping gestures towards their commitment to diversity, it&#39;s this that might just be the biggest step forwards.</p></div></blockquote><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/02/05/465317939/roundup-heres-what-people-are-saying-about-barbies-diversity-makeover?ft=nprml&amp;f=465317939"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/heres-what-people-are-saying-about-barbies-diversity-makeover-114739 What it Means That the High School Diploma is Now a Moving Target http://www.wbez.org/news/what-it-means-high-school-diploma-now-moving-target-114722 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/movingtarget.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>About three months ago, Bill Nelson got an unusual phone call.</p><p>Nelson oversees data and assessment for the Agua Fria Union High School District in southwest Phoenix, Ariz. The call was from a former student, who left the district back in 2011.</p><p>He was &quot;not quite a graduate,&quot; Nelson recalls. At the time, the young man had failed part of Arizona&#39;s high school exit exam, called the AIMS.</p><p>But in 2015, Arizona rescinded the AIMS requirement, and made that retroactive. So this former student was in luck.</p><p>After Nelson looked up his records, he was able to issue a new transcript and diploma, making the young man eligible for a steady, relatively well-paying job as a miner in Colorado. &quot;He was really very happy,&quot; Nelson says.</p><p>Which raises&nbsp;<a href="http://apps.npr.org/grad-rates/">a question NPR Ed has been exploring</a>&nbsp;for some time: What does it mean to graduate from high school?</p><p>The answer used to be fairly straightforward: Pass a given number of classes in a few core subjects, and you&#39;re good. Or if you didn&#39;t make it, you could take a test called the GED for a second chance.</p><p>That simplicity has more recently been replaced by a whole lot of confusion. The GED has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/01/27/464418078/lowering-the-bar-for-the-new-ged-test">two competing high school equivalency tests now,</a>&nbsp;for example.</p><p>And in the past decade, high school exit exams have passed quickly in and out of vogue. Half of states required them in 2012. This year? Only 13.</p><p>As&nbsp;Education Week&nbsp;<a href="http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/01/27/states-move-to-issue-high-school-diplomas.html">reported last week</a>, when states get rid of these exams, the question naturally arises: Why leave students without a diploma, when the test they failed is no longer required?</p><p>The newspaper reported that Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, California and Alaska, along with Arizona, have so far passed laws to allow students who failed some of these tests to get their diplomas anyway.</p><p>The change could profoundly affect the lives of tens of thousands of people. The difference between a high school graduate and a high school dropout is a<a href="http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2015/median-weekly-earnings-by-education-gender-race-and-ethnicity-in-2014.htm">&nbsp;37 percent increase in weekly earnings on average</a>.</p><div id="con465054803" previewtitle="Related NPR Stories"><p>But making the switch is resource-intensive. In Georgia, some of these students&nbsp;<a href="http://getschooled.blog.myajc.com/2015/03/30/governor-signs-bill-today-enabling-8000-georgians-to-receive-high-school-diploma/">should have graduated up to 20 years ago</a>. In California, reports say, schools and districts are<a href="http://www.scpr.org/news/2015/11/09/55511/thousands-stopped-by-exit-exam-may-qualify-for-dip/">responding unevenly</a>&nbsp;to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_28948354/state-exit-exam-suspension-gives-hope-thousands-seeking">logistical nightmare</a>&nbsp;of tracking down former students who have long since gone on with their lives. In Texas, the state education agency had to rule on the eligibility of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Wylie-Senior-Deemed-Ineligible-for-Graduation-Based-on-Texas-Senate-Bill-305935721.html">just one student.</a></p></div><p>In Agua Fria, Bill Nelson&nbsp;<a href="http://kjzz.org/content/139559/former-arizona-high-school-students-who-failed-aims-getting-retroactive-diplomas">set up a hotline&nbsp;</a>for students to call and dug into student records going back five years. He did it all on his own initiative, with no extra resources from the state. He mailed 40 diplomas out just three months after the change in the law.</p><p>The issue is clearly complicated. As we&#39;ve reported,<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/12/15/459821708/u-s-high-school-graduation-rate-hits-new-record-high">&nbsp;increasing high school graduation rates</a>&nbsp;is a national priority, reinforced by federal law. At the same time, the Common Core is supposed to be enforcing higher &quot;college and career ready&quot; standards. But constantly changing requirements make it harder to believe that any consistent standard is being maintained.</p><p>&quot;The requirements for a high school diploma vary from state to state and even from district to district,&quot; says Russell Rumberger, a professor of education at UC Santa Barbara who has studied the high school diploma extensively. &quot;This means that the knowledge and skills students possess when graduating, and hence their level of preparedness for college and careers, also vary.&quot;</p><h3>More On High School Graduation</h3><div><div class="bucketwrap image medium" id="res465055600" previewtitle="NPR Ed Grad Rates Project" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 40px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 14px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; position: relative; float: none; width: auto; clear: left; overflow: hidden; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><div class="imagewrap" data-crop-type="" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; position: relative; text-align: center;"><a href="http://apps.npr.org/grad-rates/" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(109, 138, 196); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: transparent; text-decoration: none;"><img alt="NPR Ed Grad Rates Project: apps.npr.org/grad-rates/" class="img" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/31/screen-shot-2016-01-31-at-12.42.10-pm-f6ca9141e512437c30f99971b4c69a728484c893-s300-c85.png" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 10px solid; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; max-width: none; display: block; width: 310px; height: 231px; float: left;" title="NPR Ed Grad Rates Project" /></a></div><div><div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/02/01/464850639/what-it-means-that-the-high-school-diploma-is-now-a-moving-target?ft=nprml&amp;f=464850639"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 10:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-it-means-high-school-diploma-now-moving-target-114722 Chicago Public Library Forgiving Fines http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-08/chicago-public-library-forgiving-fines-114747 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/6363562459_7399ee3c3e_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>We&rsquo;ve all been there. You check out a book from the library. The due date comes...and goes. And you forget to return it. Another day goes by and another--and pretty soon, you&rsquo;ve racked up a fair amount of fines.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Well, the Chicago Public Library is taking a gentler approach.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For the next two weeks, it&rsquo;s offering amnesty to anyone who has fines from overdue or lost materials. Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon explains how it all works.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 10:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-08/chicago-public-library-forgiving-fines-114747 City Colleges Faculty Votes No Confidence in Chancellor http://www.wbez.org/news/city-colleges-faculty-votes-no-confidence-chancellor-114713 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/8006733896_fa7542b739_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Faculty at the City Colleges of Chicago are saying they have no confidence in Chancellor Cheryl Hyman.</p><p>Faculty Council President Jennifer Alexander, an early childhood development instructor at Richard J. Daley College, presented the declaration of no confidence at a board meeting Thursday morning.</p><p>&ldquo;We are exceptionally concerned that our chancellor&rsquo;s actions are destroying our mission, the values and the integrity of the City Colleges,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Alexander said faculty discontent has been brewing for some time, largely in response to sweeping changes that have been part of the school&rsquo;s &ldquo;Reinvention&rdquo; initiative. That effort, launched under Hyman six years ago, aims to increase the number of degrees attained, strengthen job placement and promote career advancement for students.</p><p>Under the Reinvention plan, the system of seven community colleges has relocated academic programs, changed tuition incentives and undertaken significant capital investments. In public comments at the meeting today, faculty said they were especially concerned about the recent decisions to raise tuition for international and part-time students, and to shorten the registration period for classes.</p><p>&ldquo;Both of these actions limit student and community access to high-quality programs, and violate the mission of the City Colleges of Chicago,&rdquo; said Alexander.</p><p>Early in the meeting, Hyman addressed the Board of Trustees, laying out the school&rsquo;s successes and saying that when she was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2010, the network was suffering a &ldquo;crisis of confidence.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Six years later I am pleased to report our metrics are up across the district and City Colleges has been hailed as a national model,&rdquo; said Hyman. &ldquo;A City Colleges of Chicago credential equips our graduates with the skills to succeed.&rdquo;</p><p>Regular attendees of board meetings said the gathering was atypical, as dozens of leaders spanning civic, political, higher education and community organizations -- including Congressman Bobby Rush -- turned out to speak pointedly in support of Hyman. Several students, too, shared their comments, including a foreign student who said he supported the decision to raise tuition disproportionately for international students like himself.</p><p>Melanny Buitron, a student at Wright College, said a personal meeting with Hyman in 2011 compelled her to attend City Colleges after graduating from high school. &ldquo;She told us (her) story, about how she attended City Colleges and how she got to where she is now, which I respect a lot,&rdquo; said Buitron, &ldquo;because at a young age, as an undocumented student, I said &lsquo;If she could do it, so could I.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But faculty members say that other students have been affected adversely by decisions that Hyman and the City Colleges board made.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re closing vibrant programs at certain colleges and only going to offer them at certain colleges,&rdquo; said Alexander. &ldquo;So nursing was taken away from Daley College -- it was closed. And now they&rsquo;re saying they&rsquo;re going to close child development at Daley College, and that those students would have to go to the North Side...My concern is that my students are not going to be able to do that, and I don&rsquo;t want to lose my students.&rdquo;</p><p>Alexander said she already did lose some of her students as a result of a sudden and unexpected tuition hike that the school announced over the summer.</p><p>Kim Knutson, an associate professor of English at Wright College, says the consolidation of academic programs to certain campuses will further reinforce the city&rsquo;s existing patterns of segregation. She points to the decision to move transportation programs to Olive-Harvey College, and Culinary and Hospitality services to Kennedy-King College, both on the South Side.</p><p>&ldquo;So, you live on the South and Southwest side, you can be a truck driver, you can be a cook, you can work in a factory. That&rsquo;s pretty much it. They kind of decided that&rsquo;s what you&rsquo;re destined for,&rdquo; said Knutson. &ldquo;And Harold Washington gets all the business and professional services. Great, but why can&rsquo;t you now take accounting if you grew up in one of the more impoverished areas? We&rsquo;re already talking about populations that are not privileged to begin with and now they&rsquo;re further parsing it and acting like they don&rsquo;t know&hellip; It&rsquo;s really unconscionable.&rdquo;</p><p>Faculty members delivered a copy of their resolution to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office after presenting it to the Board. A statement from that office praises higher graduation rates under Hyman&rsquo;s leadership, and says:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;The Mayor is committed to working with the Chancellor as CCC continues to provide an affordable pathway to a four-year degree while also expanding industry-aligned opportunities that provide great value to both our students, as well as to top employers seeking highly qualified candidates for the jobs of today.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>A statement from City Colleges&rsquo; Board said trustees remain &ldquo;impressed with the significant accomplishments demonstrated by Chancellor Cheryl Hyman and her unwavering commitment to preparing Chicagoans for the workforce and further higher education.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-colleges-faculty-votes-no-confidence-chancellor-114713