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Mae Benjamins daughter Melody works as Maes personal health care assistant.
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The Janus Effect: Will Mainly African American Women Pay?

Some experts say black women may bear the brunt if union membership declines or financial support lessens as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which decreed that public sector unions can no longer force workers they represent to pay fees in lieu of union dues. But conservative groups say the cost is justified to protect workers' free speech rights.

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Yolanda Harrington walks one of her students into Barkstall Elementary in Champaign. Harrington, who had dreams of becoming a teacher, makes $18 an hour and works a second job. She has been a paraprofessional for 19 years.
Courtesy of the Student's Family

Could One Answer To Teacher Shortage Be Right Under Our Nose?

Like most states, Illinois is struggling with a severe teacher shortage. And, also like most states, that shortage is felt most profoundly in the area of special education. There is, however, an army of teacher assistants already on the job. Could they help relieve this shortage?

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Education Desk

Dusty Rhodes

Illinois’ new school funding formula — approved last year — could already be facing revisions. That's because lawmakers had such a tough time agreeing on this new formula, they tried to ensure they'd never have to fight so hard again. So they built in a Professional Review Panel, and empowered the group to recommend recalibrations as needed.

​One idea under consideration: Adding a racial equity component, to address the historic underfunding of predominantly black districts.

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Statehouse

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Drone enthusiasts, be aware – the rules for the small, unmanned aircrafts could be changing in Illinois.

A new law bars cities from regulating the use of drones.

The law excludes the city of Chicago, but a spokesman with the Illinois Department of Transportation says it will create consistent rules around the rest of the state.

Jackie Reiser is a co-owner of Measure Illinois – a Springfield-based company that provides drones to oversee power lines and construction sites. She says more unified regulation is a good thing.

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Health+Harvest Desk

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The Illinois Department of Public Health said they are trying to prevent an outbreak of Hepatitis A after several neighboring states have experienced their own.

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Arts & Life

Rachel Otwell / Michael Christensen

A fiddling duo is playing Civil War era tunes on the Old State Capitol plaza in downtown Springfield. Near them is a log cabin on wheels (well, technically it's made of cardboard) with a large ball attached to it - fashioned to look as though it was made of iron or steel, with the words "link on to Lincoln." It's old-timey propaganda created by a contemporary Illinois artist.

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Equity

Rachel Otwell

Earlier this month, Diane Nash told a full auditorium of University of Illinois Springfield students that she and fellow civil rights activists, “Loved you before we met you.” She said efforts to make the U.S. a more equitable place had been done, and are still being done, “For generations yet unborn.” And she urged others to join the cause, or risk sliding into what she sees as an increasingly authoritarian state.

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Illinois Economy

Midwest High Speed Rail Assoc.

Imagine trains that travel 200 miles per hour between Chicago and St. Louis, drastically cutting the travel time for that trip.  It’s not far-fetched.  In fact, it’s happening in other places.  But in Illinois, high speed rail has been more about baby steps than giant leaps. 

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It was more duel than debate Friday night in Dallas as Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke went after each other from the start. Snappy and heavy on snark, Cruz and O'Rourke held nothing back in the first of three debates.

Athletic training staff at the University of Maryland failed to follow a series of established best-practice guidelines after 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair began showing signs of dehydration and heatstroke during practice, according to an independent report released on Friday.

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NPR Politics: Missouri Senate Race

5 hours ago

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Walmart Inc. on Friday, alleging the company has unlawfully discriminated against pregnant workers for years at one of its warehouse locations in Wisconsin.

The complaint, filed in federal court on behalf of Alyssa Gilliam, claims Walmart failed to accommodate workers' pregnancy-related medical restrictions, even though job modifications were provided to non-pregnant employees with physical disabilities. It also says the company denied pregnant workers' requests for unpaid leave.

Updated, September 21, 7:48 p.m. ET

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to make its main official behind the 2020 census citizenship question — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — available to testify out of court for the lawsuits over the hotly contested question.

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Community Voices

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Youth Activist Summit In Springfield Inspired By Parkland Students

Students from a high school in Parkland, Florida turned trauma into activism and a get-out-the-vote campaign . Their high school was the site of a mass-shooting earlier this year. Their work has trickled down to Illinois and Springfield.

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Social Action - Thanks for Sharing!

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Ask The Newsroom: How Are Early Voting And Mail-in Ballots Handled?

In the past, Ann Quackenbush would wake up early on election day to get to her polling place. The elementary school teacher in Champaign says it was often hard to make time to vote during a busy school day. For the primary last March, she tried something different – mailing in her ballot before election day. “It is just incredibly convenient,” said Quackenbush, who has already requested a mail-in ballot for the mid-terms in November. Quackenbush posted to social media encouraging friends to...

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Featured

Statewide: Fall Enrollment Data; Best State Budget Practices; Return Of the "Wide Awakes"

Statewide, with host Sean Crawford, brings you reports and conversations from in and around Illinois.

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Illinois Issues

shape of Illinois in coins
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

The People vs. The Budget

When it comes to state spending, Illinois politicians are giving voters what they want. That’s the problem.

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Fake Weed: The Danger And The Appeal

Politics

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Tracking two big political stories today - the first, the one that has dominated the news all week.

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And NPR's Scott Detrow joins me now to walk through where things stand with the Kavanaugh nomination and the latest on whether or not Ford will testify at a Senate hearing next week. Hey, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey there.

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50 Years Of Sockin' It To The PTA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOZPBUu7Fro A single mom who wears miniskirts is the scorn of a small town. Fifty years ago this month, the song "Harper Valley P.T.A." made singer Jeannie C. Riley the first woman to hit the top spot on both the pop and country charts . More recently, the song made Rolling Stone 's list of the "100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time." Written by renowned country artist Tom T. Hall , "Harper Valley P.T.A." is a clapback to slut-shaming. The shaming comes in the...

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On 'Fanfare For The Common Man,' An Anthem For The American Century

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdqjcMmjeaA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK92hdp6u18 This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem . Aaron Copland 's "Fanfare for the Common Man" begins with dramatic percussion, heralding something big and exciting. Then comes a ladder of simple trumpet notes, solemn and heroic. The whole piece takes less than four minutes to play, but its admirers say it...

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