NIU President Severance Package Eyed By Lawmakers

A severance package handed out to the exiting president of Northern Illinois University is drawing attention from state lawmakers. Doug Baker is leaving the school following a report by the state’s Inspector General that alleged improper spending and hiring. Under an agreement approved by the trustees, Baker will receive around $600,000 plus benefits when he steps down.

I wrote about it for Illinois News Network.

State Sen. Tim Bivins To Retire

There aren’t very many Republicans in the Illinois State Senate. Democrats maintain a supermajority in the chamber, though the GOP has increased its numbers slightly from the time when I joked the entire caucus could be shuttled around in a Ford Econoline van.

Republican State Senator Tim Bivins has announced he will not run for re-election to the 45th District the in 2018, ending more than a decade in Springfield. He’s one of the most honest, earnest politicians you’ll ever be around, likely due to his long service in law enforcement. He even has a radio background and ably co-hosted with me a handful of times through the years.

One word popped up more than any other when talking to people about Tim: integrity. He’ll be missed. I wrote about his upcoming retirement at Illinois News Network.

Public Notices & Eclipses

I have a couple of stories up this week at

Check out this piece on Illinois possibly moving prevailing wage notices from newspapers to the web. It could be a first step toward digitizing a whole bunch of public notices that local governments are mandated to publish.

Then read here, especially if you’re heading to southern Illinois for the upcoming solar eclipse and are looking for a place to stay.

Rick Hess: Letters To a Young Education Reformer [AUDIO]

With my recent move from Illinois to Michigan, I’ve experienced a significant change in the education environment. Michigan is a “Schools of Choice” state, providing parents options as to what school children may attend:

Schools of Choice programs provide students with additional enrollment opportunities, which range from allowing students to determine which school within the resident district they will enroll, to allowing non-resident students to enroll in a district other than their own.

School choice, vouchers, and charter schools long have been an interest of mine, so it was wonderful to talk with Rick Hess, Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.  His new book is “Letters To a Young Education Reformer“. Here’s the audio: