April 02, 2013

The Lawyer Bubble

Legal services are increasingly expensive and, in some places in the state, hard to find. This hour on Focus, we talked with John Thies, President of the Illinois State Bar Association, which is calling for change in how the state educates it attorneys, and Steven Harper, author of the new book “The Lawyer Bubble.”


James McCollum and his mother Vashti McCollum are pictured at a court hearing.
IllinoisTimes
March 07, 2013

McCollum v the Board of Education

It’s been 65 years since the US Supreme Court Case McCollum v Board of Education made Vashti McCollum of Champaign one of the most notorious atheists in the country. During this hour, host Jim Meadows talks with filmmaker Jay Rosenstein about his awarding winning documentary “The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today” and Ken Paulson of the First Amendment Center about the case, it’s continuing implications and the now famous phrase “separation of church and state.”


October 11, 2012

Bullying Intervention and Prevention: What Works, What Doesn’t and What You Can Do

Dorothy Espelage, Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois

Debra Chasnoff, Filmmaker, President and Senior Producer of GroundSpark, a film, education and advocacy organization

Host: Kimberlie Kranich

Most of us would agree that bullying and name-calling are harmful behaviors.  And most states have mandatory anti-bullying programs in their schools.  Which programs work?  Which ones don't?  What's the difference between prevention and intervention?  How can I talk to my child or my student about bullying? How can I talk about group-specific bullying, especially anti-gay bullying, at home and at school?

We'll offer some tips and provide you with resources as we talk about efforts to stop and prevent bulling in Illinois and around the nation with two guests:  Dorothy Espelage, Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Debra Chasnoff, documentary filmmaker.

Dorothy Espelage has conducted research on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, and dating violence for the last 18 years. She leads a team of undergraduates, graduate students and staff in an effort to make schools more safe.

Debra Chasnoff is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has fueled progressive social-change movements in many fields. She is president and senior producer at GroundSpark, a national social justice media, advocacy, and education organization, and co-creator of The Respect for All Project, a program that produces media and training resources to help prevent prejudice among young people.


September 20, 2012

A Preview of The Upcoming 2012-2013 US Supreme Court Term

Lisa T. McElroy, J.D., Associate Professor of Law, Earle Mack School of Law, Drexel University

Daniel W. Hamilton, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Law and History, University of Illinois

Host: Craig Cohen

The Supreme Court’s new term begins on October 1st, and includes cases dealing with issues ranging from affirmative action to the constitutionality of a global terrorism wiretapping program, to the Fourth Amendment and law enforcement use of drug-sniffing dogs. The High Court may add other cases to the docket, potentially including a challenge to a law banning same sex marriage in California. We’ll preview the fall term with Daniel Hamilton, Professor of Law and History at the University of Illinois…and Lisa McElroy, an Associate Professor of Law from Drexel University Law School.


September 05, 2012

Is School Too Easy?

Dr. Christopher A. Koch, Illinois State Superintendent of Education

Ulrich Boser, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Co-author of CAP study

Host: Craig Cohen

We often wring our hands over failing schools, and worry about drop-out rates, and students who just can't catch up. But public policy does not as often focus on those students who excel, and seek stronger academic engagement. According to a recent report released by the Center for American Progress, student surveys conducted over the last three years by the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Education Progress indicates school may, in fact, be too easy for a lot of students. Among the findings:

•37% of 4th graders say their math work is "often" or "always" too easy;
•57% of 8th graders say their history work is "often" or "always" too easy;
•39% of 12th graders say they rarely write about what they read in class.

Is it possible that, after years of aggressive efforts to push for standardized testing in public schools, we’ve created an environment of “teaching to the test” that has resulted in some students simply not being challenged? How does classwork today compare to 10, 20 or 30 years ago? And what about “grade inflation?” What message do we send to students who can earn GPA greater than 4 on a 4 point scale? In short, is school, for some, truly, just too easy?


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