Afternoon Edition: Oct. 26, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Thousands of Chicago Teachers Union members and their supporters march through the Loop on day two of a Chicago Public Schools district-wide strike on Oct. 18, 2019.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition


Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

Chicago’s first snowfall of the season arrived this morning, but as temperatures warm up this afternoon — the high will be around 40 degrees — we’ll see more rain than snow. Tonight’s low will be near 31 degrees. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 46.

Top story

Looking back at the Chicago teachers strike a year (and a pandemic) later: Was it worth it?

A rollercoaster teachers strike that featured personal attacks but ended with a historic contract last year should have seen both the Chicago Teachers Union and district move toward a productive relationship.

Yet with a deadly pandemic that requires more cooperation than ever, the memories of a bruising contract fight have lingered, hindering any agreement over a potential school reopening even as districts and unions across the country have resolved their differences.

So was the 11-day strike, the CTU’s longest in three decades, worth the damaged relationship? Do the contract changes, widely hailed as major victories for public education in Chicago, still stand up a year and one public health emergency later?

“The current contract they have, probably more so than previous ones, is a better platform to work from under a public health crisis,” said Bob Bruno, a labor professor at the University of Illinois who has studied CPS-CTU negotiations for years.

“The fact that the contract calls for the presence of school nurses — so, that is more health professionals in the building — is consistent with operating under COVID,” Bruno said. “The fact that the contract calls for the hiring of more social workers is consistent with the emotional strain that families and kids and even teachers are likely to experience.”

Those staffing additions were among the union’s loudest demands and most cherished victories. The contract called for immediate positions dedicated to serving homeless students as well as a nurse and social worker in every school by summer 2023.

That hiring surge has met the requirements in the contract and has left CPS with 471 social workers and 391 school nurses, numbers CPS said haven’t been seen since at least 2007, when the district had thousands more students. Even so, there are 66 social worker positions and 37 nursing openings that haven’t been filled.

The union still values the agreement reached last fall and doesn’t have regrets about the strike. CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, however, said the pandemic has proven what she knew back then: The contract alone was never going to undo decades of underfunding in schools and didn’t go far enough to more quickly fix these problems.

While the union says it doesn’t hold a grudge and is willing to move forward, lingering hostilities have clearly prevented any agreement of how to proceed with schooling during the pandemic.

The situation is so bad the union has threatened another strike over the district’s attempt to bring any students back even on a limited basis, saying CPS didn’t have proper safety precautions in place. And CPS has accused the CTU of continuing to “obstruct and mislead the public” about planning needed for a return to in-person learning and so has moved forward with its plans without union approval.

“I think the strike leaves a triggering effect,” Bruno said. “It is the dominant cause of this antagonism. The mayor took this very personally and saw it as a threat to her leadership and authority. And so I’m sure it looms incredibly large in the way in which she views CTU.”

The story doesn’t end here. Read Nader Issa’s full analysis.

More news you need

  1. Bars and restaurants in suburban Cook County and the Metro East area will no longer be able to serve patrons indoors beginning Wednesday as the state tries to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. In addition, outdoor service will end at 11 p.m. and gatherings will be limited to 25 guests or 25% of overall room capacity.
  2. Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham announced that the city would be releasing the videos of last week’s fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette after his family sees them first. The officerwho shot at the car Stinnette was in, killing him and seriously wounding his girlfriend, has been fired.
  3. Six people were killed and 17 others were injured in shootings across Chicago over the weekend. One of those killed was a suspected burglar, who was shot dead by a homeowner in Marquette Park.
  4. Suburban Cook County residents struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic can apply for a one-time cash payment of $600, county officials announced today. The money is being provided through the federal coronavirus relief bill.
  5. Commuters with iPhones or Apple Watches don’t need a plastic Ventra card to get on thebus or train anymore: they can now use their devices to pay their CTA or Pace fare.To add the fare card to Apple Wallet, visit or download the Ventra app.
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A bright one

4 West, South side groups win social impact grants from the American Heart Association

Renee Taylor was 19 when she went to prison, earning a college degree in general studies, horticulture and culinary arts during her 25 years there.

When she got out in 2013, the folks at her transitional housing helped her get a restaurant job, where she was working in December when she heard ChiFresh Kitchen was recruiting. The new social enterprise, launched by three prison reform advocates, sought formerly incarcerated individuals interested in owning and operating a cooperative food service.

“It was a great opportunity to be part of something that didn’t discriminate against people with backgrounds, and to be able to say I owned something was awesome,” said Taylor, 40, of Englewood.

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Renee Taylor packages meals at ChiFresh Kitchen.

Provided

She and four others eventually became founding owners and employees of ChiFresh Kitchen, a contractor that provides nutrient-dense meals to institutions serving food-insecure residents on the West and South sides. ChiFresh opened in March at the food and beverage incubator The Hatchery Chicago in Garfield Park.

The food service contractor is among four social enterprises in Chicago splitting $450,000 in second-round grants from the American Heart Association’s Social Impact Fund, which was launched last September to support efforts to improve health in marginalized communities nationwide.

With the money, ChiFresh will complete the purchase and build out of its new 6,000-square-foot headquarters at 71st & King Drive, where it plans to ramp up production to 5,000 meals per week and hire up to 75 formerly incarcerated workers over the next five years.

Read Maudlyne Ihejirika’s full story here.

From the press box

The Bears have a good record against some so-so competition, but how they fare against their next three opponents — tonight against the Rams, followed by the Saints and Titans — should better show just how good Matt Nagy’s team is, writes Jason Lieser. Tonight’s game will kick off at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN and ABC-7.

Quarterback Nick Foles needs to step up his performance for the Bears to avoid a midseason collapse, writes Rick Morrissey.  

And Mark Potash tells us about four things to watch for during tonight’s game.

Your daily question☕

Now that bars are only able to serve Chicagoans outdoors, will you continue to dine out, if you have been? Tell us why, or why not.

Email us(please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Friday, we asked you: What did you think of the final presidential debate between Trump and Biden?Here’s what some of you said…

“I learned that Trump wants to ‘get rid of the ACA, and then come up with something better’ … he has no plan after getting rid of hundreds of thousands of people’s insurance.”— Michael Nichol

“We know now expect higher taxes if Biden is elected.”— George Gatz

“Biden did an excellent job. He answered honestly, sincerely, and with a detailed plan of what his ideas will include. Trump fell into his old habits, and was incredibly wishy washy in all his responses, especially the last question.”— Eddie Lopez

“Didn’t watch it, only highlights. I’ve already voted, so there was nothing more for me to gain from the debate.”— Jerome Monegan

“I think Dr. Jill Biden won with that dress and a matching mask! That’s my take!”— Rosa Vargas

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