Education

Series

Dollars for Profs

The Lucrative World of Academic Moonlighting

The Quiet Rooms

Children Locked Away in Illinois Schools

Campus Complicity

Faculty Sexual Misconduct in Illinois

Financial Aid Loophole

Giving Up Guardianship to Get Aid

The $3 Million Research Breakdown

University of Illinois at Chicago’s Troubling Study

The Failure Track

Alternative Schools and Accountability

Evaluating Charter Schools

Questions About Public Transparency and Private Profits

College Debt

How College Debt is Putting the Squeeze on Families

Stories

A School on Navajo Nation Stayed Open. Then People Started Showing Symptoms.

The federal government has released little information about the spread of coronavirus in Navajo schools. Now, some students and school staff are sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Lawmakers Vow to Push for a Statewide Ban on Face-Down Restraint of Children in Illinois Schools, Despite Reversal

After a group of schools pressured the Illinois State Board of Education to reverse its ban on a dangerous form of physical restraint of students, lawmakers say they’ll seek to permanently ban the practice.

Illinois Quietly Reversed Its Ban on a Dangerous Physical Restraint for Students

After a ProPublica Illinois and Chicago Tribune investigation sparked a statewide ban on some forms of seclusion and restraint of students, a small group of schools lobbied against the measure. And it worked.

When the State Shifted to E-learning, This Rural School Superintendent Shifted to the Copy Machine

With schools closed because of coronavirus, students are expected to learn remotely. But what happens when your school district doesn’t have the internet access to keep you in school? Here’s one district’s paper trail.

Not All Schools Can #KeepLearning

While educators promote online learning as coronavirus spreads, some Illinois students aren’t equipped with the broadband to even notice.

What’s It Like on One of the Only University Campuses Still Open in the U.S.?

Liberty University president and Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr. caused a stir by keeping the campus of the evangelical university open. Now, a place known for banning premarital sex, alcohol, smoking and cursing is in a sense the most permissive.

Chicago Public Libraries Are Staying Open Even Though Librarians Say It Is Not Safe

At least seven city library branches didn’t open or closed early Wednesday because not enough staff showed up to work.

The Trump Administration Drove Him Back to China, Where He Invented a Fast Coronavirus Test

A federal crackdown on professors’ undisclosed outside activities is achieving what China has long struggled to do: spur Chinese scientists to return home. In this crisis, it’s costing the U.S. intellectual firepower.

Chicago Shuts Down, but Its Public Libraries Are Open. Librarians Want Them Closed.

Librarians and other employees are protesting by calling in sick and signing a petition, saying the branches should be closed until the coronavirus is under control.

A Parent at My Kids’ School Tested Positive. New York City Didn’t Tell Us and Hasn’t Closed the School.

It’s even planning to keep a school open after a student tested positive. Its stance is in strong contrast to many other cities across the country.

Illinois Adopts Stricter Rules Against Secluding and Physically Restraining Students in Schools

The state board of education stopped short of a complete ban on seclusion after a small number of special education schools asked for more leeway in dealing with students.

School Employees Have Used Isolated Timeouts Illegally, State Investigations Find

In six of eight districts investigators examined, they found that workers broke the law by improperly secluding students. Parents say the investigations, which were prompted by a Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois story, have not gone far enough.

Illinois Lawmakers Are Calling for a Nationwide Ban on Isolated Timeouts of Students

Four states currently ban the practice of secluding students at school. Illinois lawmakers want Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to make it 50. “This shouldn’t be controversial,” said U.S. Rep. Sean Casten.

Use This Tool to Find Potential Conflicts of Interest at Public Universities. We Did.

Researchers at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois and other institutions disclosed potential conflicts totaling at least $4 million, according to our “Dollars for Profs” app.

Educators Push to Ban Seclusion of Students and Shift School Culture

Educators who testified before Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday agreed: Shutting students inside closet-sized rooms as punishment is never OK.

Inside a Training Course Where School Workers Learn How to Physically Restrain Students

While reporting on the use of physical restraint in schools, I wanted to understand if school workers properly used their training in the classroom. They often did not.

Schools Aren’t Supposed to Forcibly Restrain Children as Punishment. In Illinois, It Happened Repeatedly.

As Illinois moves to restrict the use of physical restraint in schools, records show the practice was often misused, leaving students and staff injured.

How We Reported This Story

We created the first-ever database of thousands of incidents of restraint and seclusion in Illinois.

A 7-Year-Old Complained About a Scary Office at School. This Is the Video His Parents Saw — a Month Later.

“I want accountability,” the boy’s father said. The video prompted one of 21 investigations into abuse at an Illinois school that secluded students more than 1,700 times last school year.

“None of the Children at the School Are Safe”

One school. 21 abuse investigations. And the struggle to stop relying on seclusion and restraint.

Federally Funded Health Researchers Disclose at Least $188 Million in Conflicts of Interest. Can You Trust Their Findings?

A National Institutes of Health database, which we’re making public for the first time, shows that researchers have reported more than 8,000 “significant” financial conflicts, potentially influencing their work.

We Asked Public Universities for Their Professors’ Conflicts of Interest — and Got the Runaround

We assembled the first state-by-state database of professors’ outside income and employment. But it’s far from complete.

Medical Professors Are Supposed to Share Their Outside Income With the University of California. But Many Don’t.

A comparison of University of California filings with federal data shows that moonlighting professors are shortchanging taxpayers.

Dollars for Profs: Search Conflicts of Interest

For the first time ever, you can see conflict of interest and financial disclosure records for employees of universities across the country.

Help Us Report On Conflicts of Interest at Universities

We have collected more than 37,000 financial disclosures for professors and staff at about 20 public universities and researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. Now, we need your help.

Illinois Will Allow Prone, Supine Restraints on Children While Schools Learn to Phase Them Out

The changes to a ban on restraints came after some schools said they could no longer serve children.

There’s an Emergency Ban on Isolated Timeouts in Illinois Schools. What’s Next?

The state board of education said it will refer school workers to law enforcement if they are suspected of committing crimes against children as the emergency ban on seclusion in Illinois public schools goes into effect.

Readers Choked Back Tears. Some Struggled to Keep Reading. We Understand.

A day after our reporting, Illinois ended isolated seclusion of children in schools across the state. What happened? Children’s voices were heard.

Illinois to Take Emergency Action to Halt Isolated Timeouts in Schools

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the practice of secluding children “appalling” and said he will work with legislators to end it.

For-Profit Colleges Tap a Fox News Host to Influence Trump

Presidential confidant Pete Hegseth is working to defend a lucrative loophole.

The Quiet Rooms

Children are being locked away, alone and terrified, in schools across Illinois. Often, it’s against the law.

The Federal Government Collects Data on How Often Schools Seclude Children. The Numbers Don’t Add Up.

Even though school districts are required to report their use of seclusion and restraint to the U.S. Department of Education, it can be difficult for parents to see the full picture.

How We Reported This Story

We created the first-ever database of thousands of incidents of seclusion in Illinois.

The Hedge Fund Billionaire’s Guide to Buying Your Kids a Better Shot at Not Just One Elite College, but Lots of Them

Most tycoons give big to one or two universities as their children approach college age. David Shaw gave to seven.

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Preserving the Reputations of Sexual Harassers

An administrator resigned amid sexual harassment accusations. Another college hired him. A professor was found to have stalked a coworker. She agreed to retire, then won a Fulbright grant. Campus leaders vow reforms, but many say it’s a long road.

One Campus. Seven Professors Facing Harassment Accusations. Few Consequences.

We found several sexual harassment allegations against University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty that haven’t been publicly reported. Here’s a rundown of the accusations, the consequences each faced and their responses.

Have You Experienced Sexual Misconduct at an Illinois University or College? We Want to Hear From You.

We’d like to hear about your experience with misconduct on campus, or if you were subjected to it but did not or could not file a report. We need help understanding flaws in the systems intended to hold perpetrators accountable.

Parents Gave Up Custody of Their Children to Help Them Get Financial Aid. Now, Some Are Abandoning That Idea.

Some families are frustrated about a public backlash, saying what they did was legal. They say the real problem is the cost of higher education.

Inside the Illinois House Hearing on the Financial Aid Scandal

Lawmakers described the practice as disturbing, disheartening and shocking.

At Hearing on Financial Aid Scandal, Lawmakers Grill Officials and Look to Close a Loophole

Illinois politicians considered denying admission to students whose families exploited the guardianship law to qualify for aid they wouldn’t otherwise receive, saying it was an “injustice.”

El Departamento de Educación Federal Quiere Frenar la “Trama Fraudulenta de Ayuda Estudiantil” en que Padres Ceden La Custodia a Través de Tutelas Dudosas

Un día después de nuestro reportaje, el inspector general del departamento dice que quiere cerrar los agujeros legales de ayuda financiera.

How We Got the Story About Parents Transferring Guardianship of Their Kids to Win Financial Aid They Wouldn’t Otherwise Qualify For

A tip, and then lots of work — including looking through nearly 2,000 files — over a very short period of time.

Illinois Lawmakers Call Hearing to “Demand Answers” and Find Ways to Close a Loophole in College Financial Aid Scandal

Legislators said parents who turn over guardianship of their children to get financial aid engaged in a “manipulative practice.” They’re exploring whether they can subpoena parents to testify.

Padres Ceden La Custodia de Sus Hijos para Conseguir Becas Universitarias Basadas en Necesidad Económica

Primero, los padres transfieren la tutela de sus hijos adolescentes a un amigo o pariente. Después, el estudiante declara independencia financiera para calificar para ayudas monetarias y becas.

U.S. Department of Education Wants to Stop “Student Aid Fraud Scheme” Where Parents Give Up Custody Through Dubious Guardianships

One day after our reporting, the department’s inspector general said it wants to close financial aid loopholes.

Illinois Parents Are Helping Their Children Get College Financial Aid They Wouldn’t Otherwise Qualify For. Help Us Figure Out How They Do It.

Are you a parent, student, school administrator or someone else who has seen this in action? We'd love to hear from you.

Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid

First, parents turn over guardianship of their teenagers to a friend or relative. Then the student declares financial independence to qualify for tuition aid and scholarships.

Aggression Detectors: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students

In response to mass shootings, some schools and hospitals are installing microphones equipped with algorithms. The devices purport to identify stress and anger before violence erupts. Our testing found them less than reliable.

Methodology: How We Tested an Aggression Detection Algorithm

An in-depth look at software that claims to spot aggression from your voice.

How Teach for America Evolved Into an Arm of the Charter School Movement

Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the Walton foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach for America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school.

The University of Illinois Withheld Public Records for Months. Guess What They Showed?

After we obtained the documents, they led to another story about the scandal surrounding psychiatric research at the university’s Chicago campus.

University of Illinois at Chicago Missed Warning Signs of Research Going Awry, Letters Show

UIC has played down its shortcomings in overseeing the work of a prominent child psychiatrist, but newly obtained documents show that the school acknowledged its lapses to federal officials.

Chicago Public Schools Monitored Social Media for Signs of Violence, Gang Membership

School officials say the monitoring was about keeping students safe, not punishing them. But critics say it expanded the role of police in schools and increased surveillance of children.

Illinois Regulators Are Investigating a Psychiatrist Whose Research With Children Was Marred by Misconduct

A former University of Illinois at Chicago researcher is at the center of a state medical licensing and disciplinary board inquiry.

DeVos’ Inspector General to Audit Dismissals of Civil Rights Complaints

The review could shed light on the Education Department’s reluctance, documented by a series of ProPublica articles, to investigate alleged discrimination by school districts and colleges.

Reporting Recipe: How to Investigate Racial Disparities at Your School

We published a trove of education data on more than 96,000 public schools across the country. Here’s how journalists can use our database to find local stories.

Explore Racial Disparities in Hundreds of Illinois Schools and Districts

Takeaways from our “Miseducation” app and how you can use it, too.

Charlottesville’s Other Jim Crow Legacy: Separate and Unequal Education

The Virginia city has one of the widest achievement gaps in the U.S., and a ProPublica/New York Times analysis shows that white students there are about four times as likely as black students to be considered gifted.

Miseducation

Is there racial inequality at your school? Look up more than 96,000 individual public and charter schools and 17,000 school districts to see how they compare.

How the Fight Against Affirmative Action at Harvard Could Threaten Rich Whites

If preferences for black and Hispanic applicants are abolished, expect a backlash against admissions boosts for children of alumni and donors.

Documents Raise New Concerns About Lithium Study on Children

Prominent University of Illinois at Chicago psychiatrist enrolled her young sons as healthy control subjects in troubled study.

DeVos Has Scuttled More Than 1,200 Civil Rights Probes Inherited From Obama

Our data analysis shows that the Trump administration is less likely than its predecessor to find wrongdoing by school districts on issues ranging from racial and sexual harassment to meeting educational needs of disabled students.

Has Your School Been Investigated for Civil Rights Violations?

For the first time ever, ProPublica is making available the status of all of the civil rights cases that have been resolved during the past three years, as well as pending investigations. See if your school district or college is being investigated for civil rights violations and why.

Have You Experienced or Witnessed Civil Rights Violations at a School? Share Your Story.

Do you know something about a civil rights investigation at a school? Have you experienced or witnessed civil rights violations? We want to hear from you.

University of Illinois at Chicago Officials Defend Handling of Researcher’s Misconduct

Top officials say reviews found no oversight problems, though documents undercut that claim.

How We Found Sources for Our Research Misconduct Story — And How You Can Help Us Find More

Privacy rules were an obstacle to finding participants in Dr. Mani Pavuluri’s lithium studies, but we got around them.

The $3 Million Research Breakdown

How a star psychiatrist at the University of Illinois at Chicago violated protocols and put children at risk.

Billion-Dollar Blessings

How Jerry Falwell Jr. transformed Liberty University, one of the religious right's most powerful institutions, into a wildly lucrative online empire.

How Health and Education Journalists Can Turn Privacy Laws to Their Advantage

Government records officers frequently cite privacy restrictions to deny data requests. Here are some tips on how to overcome or sidestep these barriers.

Arkansas Spurns Warehousing of Floundering Students

In much of the country, alternative schools are neglected, underfunded and stigmatized. But one of the poorest states is spending big on them.

For-Profit Schools Reward Students for Referrals and Facebook Endorsements

Schools for potential dropouts market aggressively to boost enrollment — especially during weeks when heads are counted to determine funding. Some of their tactics may violate federal consumer protections.

For-Profit Schools Get State Dollars For Dropouts Who Rarely Drop In

Schools touted by Betsy DeVos aggressively recruit at-risk students, offer barebones courses, and boost revenue by inflating enrollment.

Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

Converting into private schools — and using voucher programs to thrive on the public dime.

Who’s Taking College Spots From Top Asian Americans? Privileged Whites.

The Trump administration is preparing to investigate whether Asian Americans are treated unfairly as a result of admissions policies intended to boost the chances of other racial minorities.

Democratic Senators Condemn Betsy DeVos’ Record on Civil Rights

More than 30 “disappointed and alarmed” senators penned a letter chastising civil rights enforcement at the Department of Education.

Voucher Program Helps Well-Off Vermonters Pay for Prep School at Public Expense

Regardless of their income, residents of small Vermont towns can use state vouchers to send their children to boarding schools and ski academies. Some school-choice advocates want to replicate the program nationwide.

For-Profit School Chain Camelot Suffers Setback Following Abuse Allegations

After our reporting on alleged physical abuse of students at alternative schools run by Camelot Education, a Georgia school district delayed awarding a $6.4 million contract to the company.

Camelot Under Siege

Camelot Education, a for-profit manager of alternative schools, is facing challenges nationwide after our report on alleged physical abuse of students by staffers.

Bellwether Behavioral Health Is Controversial Group Home Operator AdvoServ — With a New Name

After two deaths of teenage residents in less than four years, AdvoServ has quietly taken a new name that makes it harder to follow the trail of media coverage, including ours.

These For-Profit Schools Are ‘Like a Prison’

Camelot Education takes the students that public schools have given up on. But some current and former students say its discipline goes too far.

Florida to Examine Whether Alternative Charter Schools Underreport Dropouts

State officials are following up on a ProPublica report last month that Orlando uses alternative charter schools to boost ratings and hide dropouts.

‘Alternative’ Education: Using Charter Schools to Hide Dropouts and Game the System

School officials nationwide dodge accountability ratings by steering low achievers to alternative programs.

Restraints

It took one mother seven years to learn that the for-profit school she trusted with her son had strapped him down again and again, one time after not picking up his Legos.

Unrestrained

While evidence of abuse of the disabled has piled up for decades, one for-profit company has used its deep pockets and influence to bully weak regulators and evade accountability

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