Afternoon Edition: June 9, 2021

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

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Students head to class at Lane Tech College Prep High School on the North Side, Monday morning, April 19, 2021.

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.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 85 degrees. Tonight will be partly cloudy with a low around 65. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 84.

Top story

What could an elected school board mean for Chicago? Here’s what other large districts have seen

Talk of a potential elected Chicago school board has been dominated by its expected size — 21 members, the most of any major urban district in the nation — plus the decentralizing of accountability and the seemingly inevitable influence of big money elections.

As advocates’ longtime dream of a fully elected board for Chicago Public Schools looks closer than ever to reality, critics and supporters alike can look to other major cities’ boards for lessons — and warnings — on how to implement a new system.

While the state legislature might address many of those questions by the time the city’s first school board elections roll around in late 2024, experts who follow other districts say Chicago has an opportunity to launch its elected board on good footing if new processes and safeguards are created and norms are established.

“Elected boards are kind of a core of democracy” and fundamental to giving families a voice, said Duncan Klussmann, a former superintendent at a Houston-area district and now a clinical assistant professor at the University of Houston.

But getting a bill over the finish line — as long as it has taken — is only one hurdle, he said.

Read Nader Issa’s full elected school board breakdown here.

More news you need

  1. Republicans filed a federal lawsuit today against Democrats arguing the state’s new legislative maps are unconstitutional because they’re not based on actual U.S. census population data. The two sides disagree over the Dems’ use of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey instead of official census counts when drawing the boundaries.
  2. R. Kelly told a judge today that he wants to move forward with his federal racketeering trial in New York without his Chicago-based leading attorneys. The attorneys recently asked to withdraw from the case two month before trial while other members of the legal team say they were fired.
  3. After a two-day strike, Urban Prep has agreed to salary increases for teachers among other demands, CTU said this morning. Teachers will also receive three years’ back pay when they didn’t receive raises and additional paid leave.
  4. Nonprofit group Change Illinois and its civic partners hope their ward map can trigger a referendum by getting votes from at least 10 aldermen. But that’s not going to happen if veteran City Council members have their say.
  5. Local entrepreneur Adam Wisniewski has been tasked with building an app for a city website connecting youth to various resources. For Wisniewski, who learned coding at a Chicago Public Library after-school program, it’s a chance to pay it forward.
  6. Goodman Theatre will resume in-person performances this month with “School Girls: Or, The African Mean Girls Play,” which was suspended by COVID-19. The theater’s 2021-22 season will also include the world premieres of four productions.
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A bright one

Leaders for New Chicago gives $50K grants to 10 who help city areas impacted by structural racism

A 30-year-old dancer who co-founded the Era Footwork Crew, a group that uses “footworking,” a uniquely Chicago-style dance, to bring communities together.

The 40-year-old co-founder of Black Lives Matter’s Chicago chapter, now working with survivors of police brutality at the Chicago Torture Justice Center.

A 26-year-old organizer who shepherded a four-year project by the Invisible Institute to document the torture of more than 100 Black men, making their stories publicly accessible.

These are among the 10 winners of $50,000 each from “Leaders for a New Chicago,” an initiative of the Field Foundation and MacArthur Foundation to support individuals and organizations addressing systemic racism in underserved South and West Side communities.


The Field and MacArthur foundations’ 2021 Leaders for a New Chicago cohort includes LaSaia Wade (top row, from left), Aislinn Pulley, Meida Teresa McNeal, Damon A. Williams and Grace Pai. Also, Monica Haslip (bottom row, from left), Brandon “Chief Manny” Calhoun, Tony Alvarado-Rivera, Malik Gillani and Maira Khwaja.


Launched in 2019, the award — a no-strings-attached $25,000 grant for each winner, plus another $25,000 for their organizations — is a more accessible spin on MacArthur’s lauded “genius grants” awarded annually to nationally known figures boasting lofty achievements.

This third cohort being acknowledged and celebrated are folks diligently working in their individual trenches, some lesser known, others more familiar — including Generation X members and Millennials. All have been dedicated to uplifting hurting communities of color.

“The Leaders for a New Chicago Award continues to find where power lives inside our communities, and provides the support and funding these folks need to dream bigger so they can continue to create change,” said Field Foundation Leadership Investment Program Officer Hilesh Patel.

Maudlyne Ihejirika has more on the recipients and their respective impacts on the city here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What is the best part about your neighborhood? Tell us why.

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: In light of National Best Friend Day, how did you meet yours? Here’s what some of you said…

“My best friend and I grew up on the same block on the South Side of Chicago. We became friends at 6 years old, and are in our late fifties, are still best friends.” — Tony Williams

“I met Osprey when I opened up my package from Amazon. My Osprey backpack traveled with me to Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, California and many national parks. So many memories.” — AJ Vee

“I met him in high school. We were waiting for a class to start and I noticed he was wearing Hush Puppies and I had always wanted a pair of those shoes. I told him, we laughed about it, and we’ve been best buddies for 42 years now.” — Chris Vaughn

“She moved next door to an adjoining house. We raised our kids together. Hers and mine are the same age.” — Genevieve Poeticlady Williams

“In Girl Scouts when I was like 11. We’re in our mid-40s now.” — Adrienne Taylor

“Heidi and I met playing softball for Niles Park District just before High School around 1989. We are Best Friends to this day.” — Jodi Lynn

“Well, one rainy day about four years ago, I found her just sitting next to my house by a small tree that’s next to the gate, trying to hide from the rain. I brought her some food and water, and the next day, she was there again and again and again. Until one day, I just decided to keep her. Now she’s the happiest dog around the neighborhood. My best friend: my dog ‘Chispas,’ which means ‘Sparks’ in Spanish. I named her that because she’s all black with a bunch of yellowish spots that look like sparks.” — Enockk Antonio Cobos

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