The 21st Show

Teachers Re-Entering the Classroom; Transferring From Community College To A Four-Year College; Surveillance Balloons; “Scabby The Rat”


Bill McChesney/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Many students and teachers are headed back to school this month. Today we’ll ask a couple of educators who have been away from the classroom how they feel about coming back. Plus, about four in five community college students say they want to earn a bachelor’s degree. But the transfer rate has stayed low. We’ll learn why. And, the Pentagon is testing surveillance balloons around the Midwest, including parts of central Illinois. These balloons could be used to stop drug trafficking but they’re also raising concerns about privacy. Also, the story behind the "Scabby the Rat" inflatables. 

Labor Day is just around the corner which means that summer is officially on its way out. And with the end of summer comes the start of a new school year for students and teachers.

Starting a new year can come with excitement, expectations, and yes, maybe even a little nervousness. Not just for students, but also for teachers. Whether it’s your first year or your 40th, there’s something a little special about the promise of that first day. 

And, for teachers who have left the profession and have found their way back to the classroom, those first few days can hold all sorts of different emotions. 

We wanted to talk to a few of the educators who have been in that position. Jeff Beal is an English Teacher at Normal Community West High School. Shavone Newsom will be teaching 2nd graders this year in Chicago Public Schools.


This week, we’re focusing on education, as students and teachers start a new school year. Community college students come in with all kinds of different goals. Some just need a few credits here and there, others might want an associate’s degree in a specific field to help them get a job.

Many students want to earn enough credits to transfer to a four-year college, and eventually earn a bachelor’s. 

But there are a few problems. The rate of students transferring from community college has stayed flat. And when you look at our more selective universities, there’s a much lower proportion of community college transfer students, even though new research shows they do just as well or better than those who came from high school or another 4-year school.

Eboni Zamani-Gallaher is a professor of higher education and community college leadership. She also directs the office for Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois. Alex Berry is the Director of Student Development at Richland Community College in Decatur. And Shannice Berry is the director of enrollment management, also at Richland. 


The Pentagon is testing more than two dozen military surveillance balloons over the Midwest. 

The Guardian reported this month that up to 25 balloons would launch from rural South Dakota and travel hundreds of miles across the midwest, ending their journey in central Illinois. According to documents filed with the FCC, the flights are designed to test a “persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats.” 

While the Pentagon has said no tracking information was collected, word of the tests, which have been approved until September,  still raised privacy concerns with the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois.

Ed Yohnka is the Director of Communications and Public Policy at the ACLU of Illinois. Also joining us we have Arthur Holland-Michel, he’s co-director for the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York and author of “Eyes in The Sky,” a book about the evolution of air surveillance systems.


Scabby The Rat was created in Chicago nearly 30 years ago. It’s a giant rat balloon that’s best known for being used in labor disputes, especially around construction sites. Unions have often used Scabby to protest the hiring of non-union workers.

But now, is actually facing a possible ban from the National Labor Relations Board. Robert Channick joins us. He's a business reporter with the Chicago Tribune.

Story source: