The 21st Show

Teacher Shortages; ‘Welcoming City’ Debate; Summer Bike Trails; Biking Across US; Solo Cup History

empty classroom

Thedofc/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

On the 21st: The latest on the 'Welcoming City' ordinance debate in Bloomington-Normal. Plus, with summer in full gear, we discuss some of Illinois' bike trails. And, how some bikers take it one step further by biking across the US. Then, the history of Solo Cups - and how they came to be, right here in Illinois. But first, we talk about Illinois' massive teacher shortage, and what lawmakers are doing to try to combat this issue.

Like many other states, Illinois is facing a massive teacher shortage. But how massive are we talking?

There were more than 2,000 teaching, administrative, support staff, and other positions that went unfilled across the state during the 2016-2017 school year. That’s according to a report from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Substitute teacher positions, as well as rural areas and high density urban areas have been hit especially hard by these shortages. As a result, lawmakers in Springfield recently passed several measures to address the shortage, but are those measures enough?

We talked about this with Lee Gaines, an education reporter for Illinois Newsroom and she has been reporting on these issues. We also spoke with Chuck Bleyer,Superintendent for Wabash Community Unit School District 348 in Mt. Carmel.


Immigration policy has been a big debate on the federal level. But what should cities and towns do when it comes to their own policies? That’s been one of the biggest questions in local communities across Illinois and the rest of the country.

Some believe that local police should help Immigration and Customs Enforcement—or ICE—detain undocumented immigrants. Others believe that they shouldn’t, and that their cities and towns need to take a public stand against the federal government’s approach to detention and deportation.

In Bloomington-Normal, the debate over a ‘Welcoming City’ ordinance has been a contentious one. Normal passed one in May, but in Bloomington, Mayor Tari Renner canceled a vote on a proposed ordinance for the second time this year. And this issue is anything but resolved.

For more on this we spoke with Ryan Denham, who’s been reporting on this with his colleagues at WGLT in Normal.


Summer is finally in full swing. So hopefully wherever you are in Illinois, you’re making the most of it. For cyclists, and for folks just hoping to get on their bikes a little more, it’s a chance to explore some of Illinois’ bike trails.

To help us with some suggestions, we spoke with James Roedl, Service Manager with Neutral Cycle in Champaign.


There are a lot of great bike trails in Illinois, but imagine biking across the US. If you’re Daniel De Vise, that’s not so far fetched. He comes from a long line of cyclists, including his father, Chicagoan Pierre De Vise, and his uncle Jacques, who were the youngest people in history to ever cross the United States by bicycle.

Daniel is an author and journalist, and he’s recently written a book about cycling called The Comeback.


Summer fun can bring you outside, maybe to enjoy a drink? And perhaps you’re having that drink in a red plastic cup? Well, the makers of Solo Cups certainly hope so. But did you know that these party cups, immediately recognizable from across a crowded lawn, actually have roots here in Illinois—in Urbana to be exact.

And the roots go even deeper, back almost 90 years. Chris Borrelli recently dug into the 16-ounce history and design of our favorite cup. He’s on the line with me from the Chicago Tribune where he’s a Features Writer.

Story source: WILL