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. 

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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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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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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