How the 2013 school closings impacted Chicago’s kids, the city’s Memorial Day weekend safety plan and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

SHARE How the 2013 school closings impacted Chicago’s kids, the city’s Memorial Day weekend safety plan and more in your Chicago news roundup
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Archie Hayes, now 20, was in fourth grade when his North Lawndale school closed. He saw no improvement in the schools where he transferred, including one where CPS sent him. Now a rapper, he recently signed with a major label.

Marc Monaghan/WBEZ

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

Maybe you already knew this, but today I learned that the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was built way back in 1893 — and reconstructed in 1917.

Whether or not you think this ‘ol icon on the lake is showing its age, a group of lighthouse lovers is trying to raise between $3 million to $5 million to restore the landmark and keep it shining.

I hope the rest of your day is full of light. Now on to the stories you need to know this afternoon.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

Archie Hayes, now 20, was in fourth grade when his North Lawndale school closed. He saw no improvement in the schools where he transferred, including one where CPS sent him. Now a rapper, he recently signed with a major label. | Marc Monaghan/WBEZ

Chicago promised students would do better after closing 50 schools. That didn’t happen.

Reckoning with school closings: Ten years ago, Chicago officials closed 50 schools, in large part because they said CPS had too many seats for too few students. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett promised students that they would be saved from their low-performing schools and have spots reserved for them in schools the system deemed better. Those promises haven’t held up, a Sun-Times and WBEZ investigation has found.

The reality: The academic outcomes for K-12 students from the closed schools weren’t better than for children who attended similar schools that stayed open, an analysis of state and city data shows. And their outcomes were far worse than the city averages.

Key quote: “If there’s not that many students here, or enough going on in this school, what [can] the next school do better?” Archie Hayes, now 20, remembers wondering in fourth grade. After Hayes’ school closed, he attended three more elementary schools, then three high schools. The first two, just blocks from his old closed school, didn’t seem much different.

More on the kids affected by school closings from our Lauren FitzPatrick and Nader Issa and WBEZ’s Sarah Karp and Alden Loury.


WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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Mayor Brandon Johnson talks Thursday about his Memorial Day weekend violence plan at 63rd Street Beach.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times


OUR CITY IN COLOR 🎨

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Julia Franco’s mural at 4744 N. Kimball Ave. in Albany Park shows two talking panthers whispering into the ears of a woman who seems to have come straight out of a 1960s ad.

Provided

What are the figures on the wall at 4744 N. Kimball Ave. in Albany Park saying?

Chicago artist Julia Franco painted the mural there. But she’ll leave it to you to decide. It features two panthers speaking into the ears of a 1960s model who appears to be a vintage-inspired woman with blacked-out eyes, bright pink lips and slicked-down hair.

“The tongues coming out is like they’re telling a story or giving you advice,” Franco says. “They’re saying something, but it’s up to the viewer to see what are they saying.”

She’s wearing what, at a glance, might appear to be earrings but actually are the talking panthers. Franco created “Le Panther” as a character in 2017 and has incorporated it in many of her pieces, from murals to screen prints. They’re a representation of human evolution, a voice that guides us through all the stages of life, Franco says.

More on the backstory of this public art piece from our Katie Anthony.


BRIGHT ONE ✨

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Jonathan Knight (from left), Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood of New Kids on the Block perform during the 2021 American Music Awards in Los Angeles.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

New Kids on the Block convention a first for fans of the iconic ’80s boy band

Nearly 40 years after forming in Boston in 1984, New Kids on the Block are set to host their first fan convention, BLOCKCON, in Rosemont this Memorial Day weekend, and Donnie Wahlberg has been busy going through decades of memorabilia to bring with him to the event. 

“I’m actually in my storage shed going through years of stuff,” the singer-actor shared during a recent interview. 

“I’ve found concert clothes from 1989, 1990, iconic looks. I have a stage-worn jacket from the [’90-’92] Magic Summer tour. I used to wear these hardware hats that the fans know very well, I found three of them. … There’s my outfit I wore to an awards show in 1989, my graffiti pants I used to wear onstage,” Wahlberg said.

A New Kids quasi-museum is going to be just one part of BLOCKCON, which all five of the original members — Wahlberg, Joey McIntyre, Jonathan and Jordan Knight and Danny Wood — have been personally working on, step by step, over the last year.

The result: a fully immersive experience for the legion of the band’s die-hard fans, lovingly referred to as Blockheads. BLOCKCON offers a kickoff concert, daytime panels, exhibits, a prom-themed party Saturday night and “a farewell event with the New Kids on Sunday morning,” according to a news release. And really dedicated fans can get some permanent New Kids ink, too. 

More with Wahlberg ahead of BLOCKCON from Selena Fragassi.


YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

Whether you’re belting in the shower, crooning at karaoke or lifting your voice with headphones on — what is your go-to song to sing? Tell us why.

Email us (please include your first and last name and where you live). To see the answers to this question, check tomorrow’s Morning Edition email. Not subscribed to Morning Edition? Sign up here so you won’t miss a thing!


Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition.

Have thoughts on the new format? Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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