The 21st Show

Schools Helping Homeless Families; Wheaton College And The Underground Railroad; Fighting Robocalls


Tamara Cubrilo for Illinois Newsroom

On The 21st: More than 50,000 students in Illinois dealt with homelessness last year. And now, one school district is using a state law to help families find housing using money in their transportation budget. Plus, Illinois was once home to many stops along the Underground Railroad. We'll bring you the story of just one of those stops at Wheaton College. And, are you getting more and more robocalls these days? We’ll give you some tips on what to do about them.

The State Board of Education says there are more than 50,000 homeless students in Illinois. That means there are tens of thousands of homeless families.

When it comes to providing help, families often shy away from the better known options like shelters. Today, we wanted talk about a little-used state law that allows school districts to provide some relief to help re-house families who need it. It’s one small workaround in the bigger issue of affordable housing.

Lee Gaines has been reporting on this. She’s the education reporter for WILL and the Illinois Newsroom.

Shawn Schleizer is an associate superintendent with East Maine School District 63. He joined us on the line from Des Plaines.

Barbara Duffield is the executive director of the non-profit SchoolHouse Connection. She was on the line from Washington. 


Illinois’ early history is filled with stories about slavery on both sides. Yes, we were founded as a free state, but the practice was still allowed to continue in different forms. And, free black men and women were still at risk of being kidnapped and sold back into slavery across state lines.

There are also stories of freedom like New Philadelphia, the first town founded by African-Americans. In southern Illinois, free black communities were on the front lines of the Underground Railroad.

That path made its way north, through our state. And in DuPage County, a building at Wheaton College called Blanchard Hall was one of these stops for former slaves who were seeking freedom.

Dennis Rodkin is a reporter with Crain’s Chicago Business. He’s also a contributor to WBEZ’s What’s That Building Series. 

And on the line from Wheaton College we had the school’s president, Phil Ryken. 


More than just a nuisance, robocalls can be dangerous for particularly vulnerable consumers.

A study conducted by the telecom services firm YourMail found that consumers were hit with almost 50 billion automated calls in 2018. And Illinois had the sixth most robocalls in the nation, with 1.8 billion calls.

If you’re one of those billions, it can feel like there’s very little you can do to stop them.

The Illinois watchdog group Citizens Utility Board or CUB has just released a “Guide To Fighting Robocalls.” It’s director of communications Jim Chilsen spoke with us from Chicago.

Story source: WILL