General Interest

Chicago education tech company targets rural Illinois schools

By Taylor Mullaney

When Ryan Hoch started teaching Algebra II in St. Louis five years ago, he found that his students were vastly unprepared for the futures they wanted.

“When they got to my class their junior year, 90 percent of my students told me that they wanted to go to college,” Hoch said. “They had specific universities in mind, like [Missouri], [Saint Louis University], WashU, different schools that were tough to get into. But then their average ACT was a 15, and the average GPA was a 2.5.”

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VIDEO: Citizen Scientists Catch Clues about Star Formation

By Lizz Giordano

Citizen scientists are leading astronomers to new clues about star formation.

Citizen scientist volunteers discovered the more than 900 mysterious bright yellow objects that became the subject of recent paper in the Astrophysical Journal. Continue reading

VIDEO: First large-scale green roof in Chicago

By Adriana Cargill

Chicago’s first permitted large-scale commercial green roof farm is set to open in the West Loop this summer. The two Chicago companies behind the project will begin planting in mid to late April.  They hope this will be the start of something big.

According to City of Chicago Data from 2010, there is the equivalent of 95 football fields’ worth of green roofs in Chicago and that number grows every year.

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Chicago day cares, parents tighten measles precautions

By Meg Anderson

Young moms chatted between cloth diaper displays, with wide-eyed babies dangling and cooing in carriers. But amid the heady odor of lotion samples and soiled diapers, the threat of measles loomed in many minds at MommyCon, a natural parenting convention.

“Honestly, it pisses me off that we have to worry about it,” said Michelle Pizarro, 30, as she sat feeding eight-month-old Mila at the Feb. 21 convention in Rosemont.

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VIDEO: Parents continue to protest PARCC, push for HB 306

By Beth Werge

Called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the tests are supposed to gauge student achievement and readiness for college and careers. But parents and administrators alike are concerned for their students’ well being.

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Health professionals: more alcohol deaths than CDC report suggests

By Dani Anguiano

Several health care professionals have said that a recently released CDC report, which revealed that on average, six people die from alcohol poisoning each day in the United States, while jarring – doesn’t show the full societal cost of excessive drinking.

According to the CDC report released earlier this year, researchers found that the majority of people dying are middle-aged, white males who aren’t alcoholics.  Continue reading

From Chinatown to Bloomingdale’s: Chicago celebrates Chinese New Year

By Kate Morrissey

Despite the snow that rattled rush-hour drivers Wednesday evening, the Phoenix Restaurant hosted a who’s who of Chinatown’s business and political leaders for one of the many celebrations of Chinese New Year happening across Chicago.

Chinese New Year, more accurately referred to as Lunar New Year, began Thursday, and, according to Raymond Chin, the chairman of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and Wednesday’s host, the parties can last up to a month. In Chicago the celebrations have spread beyond Chinatown’s borders and include a diverse community, which Chin said has contributed to Chinatown’s growth.

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Education funding formula gets second look

By Phoebe Tollefson

The 2015 reincarnation of a contentious bill that came out last spring, which would shift money away from wealthier school districts and move it into poorer ones, has entered the Springfield pipeline, but opposition and confusion about financial impact means the next steps will be slow.

Senate Bill 1 amends the state education funding formula with the aim of providing more money to districts with low-income, special education and English language learning students. Supporters of the legislation say it’s needed to address major district-by-district educational inequalities in Illinois. Continue reading

Low gas prices offer spending, saving options for drivers in 2015

By Bethel Habte

With oil prices at historic lows, consumers could pad their pockets with money they’re saving at the pump. While many economists predicted stronger consumer spending in areas like retail with this gas windfall, drivers have other financial priorities in mind.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that the average U.S. consumer will spend nearly $550 less on gas in 2015 than in 2014. Meanwhile, a U.S. Department of Commerce report released this month showed that personal income increased $41.3 billion, or 0.3 percent, in December and a total of 3.9 percent in 2014 compared with 2.0 percent in 2013.

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10th Ward Residents Vote: Ban Pet Coke Now

By Sarah Kramer and Lizz Giordano

Residents of Chicago’s 10th Ward voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to ban the storage of petroleum coke, a byproduct of the oil refining process.

Nearly 86 percent of  voters favored the ban in Chicago’s Southeast Side 10th Ward. The referendum vote is non-binding, but it’s another loss for Koch Industries-owned KCBX Terminals Company, which has been engaged in a battle with City Hall over the handling of the dusty black piles. Continue reading