The 21st Show

Lowering Kindergarten Age; Chicago Bond Reforms & Domestic Violence; Endangered Places; The Leadoff


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Kids in Illinois have to start kindergarten by the time they’re six years old. But a new bill, that’s already passed the Senate, could lower that required age to five. Plus, Cook County has lowered bonds for people accused of violent domestic attacks. But, a Chicago Tribune investigation shows that some victims feel like this change has put them at risk. Also, we'll talk about this years list of Illinois' most Endangered Places. And, listeners in the Bloomington-Normal area have a new podcast to look forward to that focuses on local news. We’ll hear from WGLT about their new show, ‘The Leadoff.’

What’s the best time for a child to go to kindergarten? And what should be done to make sure that when they do, they’re on the right track, both for kindergarten and beyond?

A lot goes into that decision whether you’re a parent or setting early childhood education policies. Right now, the state of Illinois says that a child needs to be enrolled in kindergarten by the time they’re six years old.

But soon, the required age could be lowered to five thanks to a bill currently under consideration in Springfield. It passed the Senate and is currently in a House committee. The bill would also move the cutoff date from September 1st up to May 31st. So if you’re a parent with a child born over the summer, you’d still have the option of whether to enroll your child, or wait another year.

Proponents of the bill say that starting school earlier improves overall performance in schools, but some parents also worry about losing the option to hold their kids back a year, if they feel like their son or daughter isn’t ready for kindergarten.

Audrey Kamm was recently a parent in that situation. She lives in Metamora, in the Peoria area and her son Logan is six years old. 

Shonda Ronen was a kindergarten teacher for nine years in Hillsboro, in Montgomery County. She’s now the principal and director of curriculum development at Bunker HIll Elementary School. Gillian McNamee also joined us from Chicago, where she’s a professor and director of teacher education at the Erikson Institute. 


Over the past three years, Cook County judges have been lowering bonds for people accused of committing violent domestic attacks. A new investigation from the Chicago Tribune found that last year in Cook County, the average bond for people accused of committing violent domestic attacks was less than a quarter of what it was in 2016.  

Some advocates say Chicago’s bond reforms are a step in the right direction towards addressing racial inequalities in the bond system and reducing overcrowding in jails. But, these changes also mean that victims of domestic abuse could risk getting attacked again as more suspects are released from custody.

David Jackson is one of the members of the Chicago Tribune investigative team behind this reporting, and he joined us on the line. 

Vickie Smith is the executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 


We talk a lot about development here on The 21st- bigger, better, faster, more. But it’s easy to forget about the old, especially when we talk about buildings.

And so every year, the preservation organization Landmarks Illinois releases its list of the most Endangered Places in Illinois. These are places around the state that are threatened by lack of use, funds, maintenance or the wrong kind of development. Among this year’s list includes well known buildings like the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago all the way to a little known grain elevator in St. Clair County.

Frank Butterfield is the Director of Landmarks Illinois Springfield Office.

And we were also joined by representatives from two of the sites on this year’s list. Schuyler Isley is a board member of the Schuyler County Architecture Foundation that is overseeing the campaign to save the historic Ray House in Rushville in western Illinois.

And former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey has been petitioning to prevent the demolition of two historic buildings in Rockford that are also on this endangered list. 


There's a new podcast from our partner station WGLT. It’s called The Leadoff and it’s a daily deep dive into Bloomington-Normal news, art and culture. Starting this week, it’ll be available every weekday at 7am.

WGLT reporter Ryan Denham hosts The Leadoff and he joined us on the line to tell us more about it. 

Story source: WILL