Vicki White, president of Chicago Books to Women in Prison, reads a letter sent from an incarcerated woman. She is standing in a room lined with bookcases and book shelves full of books.

Lee V. Gaines / Illinois Newsroom

April 16, 2018 - News Local/State

Illinois Prison System Spent Less Than $300 On Books Last Year

Last year, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) spent $276 on books for its educational programming across 28 correctional facilities, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. In the early 2000s, however, the state prison system spent roughly $750,000 each year on books. The dramatic decrease in funding stands in contrast to research that shows educational programming for inmates can significantly impact recidivism rates. Prison librarians, academics and a former Illinois inmate all agree that prison libraries play an important role in that work. 


Ann Baltzer (far left) posed for a yearbook picture with her advisory students at Noble's Hansberry College Prep.

Courtesy of Ann Baltzer

April 04, 2018 - News Local/State

Culture Shock: Teachers Call Noble Charters ‘Dehumanizing’

The trend toward school choice has educators across the country looking at Chicago’s Noble Charter Schools — an award-winning network of mostly high schools that specializes in helping inner-city kids achieve the kind of SAT scores that propel them into four-year universities.


Posters and signs with strike slogans written on them. Signs are part of the GEO strike on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.

Lee V. Gaines/Illinois Public Media

March 06, 2018 - News Local/State

U of I Graduate Workers Strike Hinges On Tuition Waivers

Hundreds of classes have been canceled and dozens more relocated as a strike by graduate employees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign continues into a second week. On Tuesday night, graduate workers occupied the office of university president Tim Killeen. Strikers have a variety of demands, but one of the most contentious points focuses on the future of tuition waivers -- and whether some graduate workers will have to pay tuition while employed in academic positions on campus.


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner

Brian Mackey/Illinois Newsroom

February 14, 2018 - News Local/State

Even With No Budget, Illinois Spends And Spends

Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to unveil his fourth budget proposal Wednesday in a speech to the General Assembly. Illinois lawmakers only enacted a budget for one of the three years he’s been in office.


Participants in a poverty simulation

Lee V. Gaines/Illinois Newsroom

February 07, 2018 - News Local/State

Schools Are Using Poverty Simulations To Build Empathy. But Do They Work?

About 100 teachers and support staff recently gathered in a junior high school in central Illinois to take on the roles of people living in poverty. It’s part of a poverty simulation used by schools across the country that’s supposed to challenge stereotypes. But some say it takes more than a one-time simulation to change attitudes and behaviors.


J.B. Pritzker, left, has pledged to help Democrats get elected across the state. State Sen. Daniel Biss, right, says Democrats shouldn't have to depend on ultra-wealthy benefactors to fund the party.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

December 14, 2017 - News Local/State

Key Question For Democrats: To Billionaire, Or Not To Billionaire?

With roughly three months to go until Illinois' primary election, there are seven men seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to be governor of Illinois. One of the key questions facing primary voters: To counter the vast wealth of incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, do Democrats need their own billionaire at the top of the ticket?


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