The 21st Show

‘We Are Proud To Present…’; New Standardized Test; The Roots Of Our Trade War With China; Pi Day



On The 21st: Who gets to talk about history, especially when that history is brutal and hard to talk about in the first place? That’s the subject of a new play from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater. Plus, after years of criticism, Illinois has scraped the controversial PARCC standardized test in schools. But will the new one be different enough to quell concerns from teachers and parents? And, we explore the messy backstory of the US trade war with China, including its roots in the Cold War and intellectual property theft. Also, what better way to celebrate Pi Day today than with some lemon meringue?

Every year around this time, third through eighth grade students here in Illinois participate in standardized testing and for the past few years, that test has been the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC test.

But, after criticism from teachers, administrators and parents about the test’s length and content, the state decided to replace it with a new one.

It’s called The Illinois Assessment of Readiness and it’s supposed to be at least shorter. But does it fix the problems with the last test? Depends on who you ask.

Yana Kunichoff joined us on the line. She’s been reporting on this for Chalkbeat Chicago. 

Also on the line we had Genevra Walters who’s the superintendent of school district 111 in Kankakee.

Plus -- 

In the early 1900s, the Herero and Nama people of Namibia were murdered by German colonizers. Scholars estimate that 80 percent of the Herero and 50 percent of the Nama were killed. And even though the term genocide wasn’t really created until after World War II, this is considered the first genocide of the 20th century.

If you’ve never heard of it, you’re probably not the only one. And that fact is the subject of a new play being staged at Steppenwolf Theater. It’s not just being performed at the Chicago theater but is also touring six Chicago neighborhoods, in a partnership with the Park District and Library. And it’s being presented to high school students as part of Steppenwolf for Young Adults.

We spoke with Director Hallie Gordon and Carmen Scott-Boria who's the Director of Enrichment Programs for BUILD at Steppenwolf. 

For more information on where to see this play, visit Steppenwolf's website. They are also on tour and are holding free workshops and shows throughout the Chicago area.


When it comes to a trade war with China, we usually hear about effects on farmers or manufacturing - perhaps you recall the recent headlines about steel tariffs?

But our relationship with China actually in many ways hinges on technology - and it’s made our relationship difficult. You may have read stories about corporate espionage and intellectual property theft. And American farmers - and manufacturers - are actually the collateral damage because of that struggle.

This is a battle that dates back to the Cold War.

Madelyn Beck spoke with us. She’s been reporting on this for Harvest Public Media. 


Today is March 14th or three fourteen. For some of you it might feel like just another Thursday but, bakers and mathematicians alike are celebrating today… and you should be too! Any diligent math student knows 3.14159 is also known as the number pi. And, it’s become a tradition to celebrate today by enjoying the other type of pie. The buttery, sweet and delicious kind.

Emily Kroner knows a little bit about that kind. She’s the owner of Lucky Moon Pies in Mahomet, Illinois. 

Story source: WILL