Illinois Education Report; Latinx Enrollment And Barriers In Higher Ed; Preserving And Repurposing Churches

October 15, 2019
 

Alyssa Schukar for the Greater Chicago Food Depository/Flickr(CC BY 2.0)

Illinois has made progress on K-12 education in recent years, but there’s still more to be done in early childhood and higher education. We look at one report from the education non-profit Advance Illinois. We also talk about what it takes to help more Latinx community college students get the support they need to earn a degree. Plus, houses of worship have been closing all over the state. Now, there’s a movement of people who want to make sure that these buildings are still being used by their communities.

Illinois Education Report

Illinois’ education system has been unequal in many ways for years now. Many districts have been operating without nearly enough money and often don’t have enough teachers. And even though significant gains have been made, especially with more money going to schools that need it, under the new funding formula, there’s still a lot more to be done.

All of this and more is part of a new report by the non-profit group Advance Illinois. Robin Steans is the president of Advance Illinois. Dan Cox is the superintendent of Staunton Community Unit 6.

Latinx Enrollment And Barriers In Higher Ed

About a quarter of students enrolled in community colleges last year identified as Latinx, according to data from the Illinois Community College Board. That’s up from roughly 19 percent five years ago. While Latinx enrollment has been steady, enrollment in community colleges for nearly every other ethnic and racial group has dropped. 

A new report from the nonprofit Education Trust finds that Latinx students still face significant barriers compared to white students when it comes to getting an associate's or bachelor’s degree, both here in Illinois and nationally. Wil Del Pilar with the Education Trust in Washington D.C. joined us to tell us more about this attainment gap. He’s Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice at the Education Trust. 

We were also joined in the studio with Diane Barrios-Smith. She's a student at Parkland community college in Champaign and vice president of the student group Club Latino. 

Preserving And Repurposing Churches

A growing number of Illinois church congregations are having to either change locations or disband altogether. That’s because congregations are shrinking and because maintaining a house of worship is often expensive.

But there’s also growing interest in still using these sacred buildings and keeping them part of the community. In the Springfield area, several former churches were converted to a restaurant, apartments and a youth ministry. 

NPR Illinois Sam Dunklau reported on this story. Pastor Jean Hembrough also joined us from Jacksonville, Illinois. Bob Jaeger is president of the non-profit Partners for Sacred Places.