The 21st Show

Illinois Teachers Strike; Radioactivity’s Impact On The Landscape Art Exhibit; Flu Shot Season; Giant Pumpkins


Striking teachers and support staff picket outside the John J. Pershing Magnet School on the first day of their strike in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Chicago. Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The Chicago Teachers’ Union is on strike, and classes are canceled today. But they’re not the only teachers walking off the job in Illinois. We check in with other teachers who are striking across the state. Plus, a new art exhibit in Urbana explores the invisible ways that radioactivity and nuclear waste affects all of our lives. And, Illinois produces more pumpkins than any other state. Now that fall is here, we’ll speak with two Illinois farmers about this year's pumpkin crop. 

Illinois Teachers Strike

The nation’s third largest school district is on strike. 

The Chicago Teachers' Union announced the strike late last night, and tens of thousands of public school teachers are on the picket lines this morning in a district with about 300,000 students. 

Teachers in smaller districts around the state have also been on strike this month.

The president of the Blue Ridge Federation of Teachers in central Illinois said members there are likely to strike if a deal with the Blue Ridge School Board isn’t finalized by the end of the month. Teachers assistants in Decatur are also warning of a strike. 

In Mendota, a town of about 7,000 people in the north central part of the state, teachers went on strike yesterday. Classes were cancelled in three elementary schools in the district. 

We were joined by Yana Kunichoff. She's a Chicago-based reporter with Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news outlet that covers education. Brandon Scheppers is the co-vice-president of the Mendota Education Association.

Radioactivity's Impact On The Landscape Art Exhibit 

The U.S. has conducted more than a thousand official tests of nuclear weapons, most of them in the western part of the country and on islands in the South Pacific.

And even though the most recent one was in the early 90s, there are still regular people all over the country, and the world, who have to deal with the consequences.

A new exhibit at the University of Illinois’ Krannert Art Museum deals with this topic, and many others related to nuclear waste and radioactive materials. It’s called Hot Spots: Radioactivity And The Landscape.

We got a tour from Lilah Leopold, who’s a Ph.D student in the Art History Department and a curatorial intern for the exhibit.

For more about the exhibit, we were joined in the studio by the original curators of the show. Joan Linder is a professor of art at the University of Buffalo. Jennie Lamensdorf is an independent arts curator from San Francisco. Kevin Hamilton is Dean of the University of Illinois’ College of Fine and Applied Arts.

Flu Shot Season

Dr. Vincent Kucich is the vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville. He spoke to us about what you need to know about flu shots and this year's flu season.

Giant Pumpkins 

It’s that time of year again. You’ve probably seen the pumpkins stacked up outside of grocery stores. Or maybe you picked one up to carve and decorate from a local pumpkin patch. 

Illinois is actually the largest producer of pumpkins in the country. And this year, it’s home to a pumpkin that weighs more than 1,200 pounds.

That was the size of Joe Adkins’ pumpkin this year. This year marked his first place win at the annual Illinois Giant Pumpkin Grower's Association Weigh-off for the fourth year in a row. Mac Condill is a fifth-generation farmer and owner of the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, Illinois.

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