Rachel Otwell

Rachel focuses on the arts, community, and diverse culture. She's a 2012 graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. While working toward that degree she spent a semester covering the state legislature for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio. Rachel also holds degrees from UIS in Liberal & Integrative Studies, Women & Gender Studies, and African-American Studies. She's tutored Rwandan refugees in Ohio, volunteered at a Kenyan orphanage,  served as an activities assistant at a nursing home, and volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

Rachel started a career in public media in 2011 when she interned for the National Public Radio program Tell Me More with Michel Martin in Washington, DC. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition, and WorkingNow.org. 

Illinois
6:26 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Legislators Meet In Chicago To Discuss Problems In Teen Facilities

A committee of state lawmakers will meet in Chicago today to discuss problems, such as prostitution, happening at state-run residential facilities for teens.

The hearing is in response to an ongoing investigative series by The Chicago Tribune.

At least 14 teenagers who lived at the centers were found to have engaged in prostitution since 2011. Other problems include extreme discipline, lack of staff, and abuse.

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Business
5:38 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Venues Warn Consumers About Secondary Market Ticket Brokers

Credit Flickr user Todd / "You buys your ticket" (CC BY 2.0)

If you like to attend shows, chances are you've bought tickets online. Problem is, if you're doing a search and buying from the first site that pops up, there's a chance you're getting ripped off. 

These brokers have crafted legitimate looking websites, and often sell tickets at inflated prices, adding "service" fees. It's nothing new, but Carly Shank who works with Sangamon Auditorium in Springfield says 2014 has been the worst year for it yet:

"We've had a lot of high-profile events, and those are events that kind of help egg that problem along."

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Schools
5:12 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Charter Schools: What Does The Future Hold?

Teacher Mr. Gilbert at Roberston Charter School in Decatur
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 9:44 am

Charter schools have long been a divisive issue. Supporters say they allow schools to teach kids free of burdensome regulations.  Opponents say they take money away from traditional schools.  In Illinois this year, those views are colliding.  In the final installment of our series, we find out about the fight at the statehouse and what it might mean for charters:

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NPR Story
3:52 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Charter Schools: The Fix Ailing Districts Need?

Students at Ball Charter
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 9:47 am

Nearly two decades ago when the state legislature paved the way for charter schools, Republicans were in control and touted them as an innovative way to improve education by removing many rules and regulations. Now there are about 145 charter school campuses across the state, the vast majority in Chicago. Supporters say they are the change an ailing education system needs, but it's a contentious topic. In this report, the first of a two-part series, we visit a charter school and explore the differing opinions about them:

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NPR Story
11:53 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Illinois Lottery: A Shell Game For School Funding?

Lottery ads at the Hometown Pantry
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 12:12 pm

Many people are aware that the Illinois Lottery helps fund schools. But just how much do the proceeds actually help? Well, that's what we aimed to find out:

    

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NPR Story
6:24 am
Fri January 24, 2014

U of I Board OKs Tuition Increase & UIS Student Union

The future UIS student union

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 2:13 pm

Newly approved tuition increases at the University of Illinois mean that four years of college on the flagship campus will top $100,000 for many students. Trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition by 1.7 %. They also increased fees and housing costs. Vice President for Academic Affairs Christopher Pierre says the increases sticks to a university plan to keep increases in line with inflation.

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