Afternoon Edition: May 18, 2022

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

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A sign is displayed on the front of the headquarters for Chicago Public Schools. Scott Olson/Getty Images

A sign is displayed on the front of the headquarters for Chicago Public Schools.

Getty Images

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.

This afternoon will be cloudy with scattered showers and a high near 59. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low around 53. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 83.

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Afternoon Edition
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Top story

Hundreds automatically enrolled in military-type education classes at CPS, internal watchdog finds

Even though the program is supposed to be voluntary, hundreds of CPS high school freshmen — mostly on the city’s South and West Sides — were automatically enrolled in military-type education classes during the last two years, a new report has found.

“At some CPS high schools, [Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] enrollment often operated like a pre-checked box: Students were automatically placed in JROTC and they had to get themselves removed from it if they did not want it,” according to the summary of the report from the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of the Inspector General.

“Sometimes this was possible; sometimes it was not. Some opt-out procedures were never explained or not easily achieved when attempted.”

For two years in a row, four of 37 CPS schools with JROTC programs enrolled 100% of their freshmen, according to the inspector general. Another four schools enrolled between 91 and 99 percent of freshmen, the report states.

The findings, released today, were prompted by a June 2021 Chalkbeat Chicago report, which detailed, among other findings, that the automatic enrollment occurred at “smaller high schools on the city’s South and West Sides that serve a mostly low-income student body. The city’s larger North Side high schools, where more students are white, have significantly lower percentages of freshmen enrolled in the program.”

Principals offered a variety of reasons for their high JROTC enrollment, including a shortage of PE teachers or having to cut those teachers because of a lack of funding, the CPS inspector general found.

Some principals said the ROTC classes saved money because CPS and the U.S. Department of Defense split the cost, according to the report.

Stefano Esposito has more on the inspector general report here.

More news you need

  1. The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay $1.2 million to a man who said he was sexually abused when he was 12 years old by Daniel McCormack, a defrocked priest, the man’s lawyer said yesterday, AP reports. The settlement before a lawsuit was filed marks the latest chapter in the story of McCormack, one of the most notorious pedophiles in the history of Chicago’s archdiocese.
  2. A judge scolded a mother today for being “supremely negligent” after her 8-year-old son allegedly found a gun under her bed and brought it to school, where it went off and grazed a classmate. She was charged with misdemeanor counts of child endangerment.
  3. Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to ban unmarked “ghost guns” today with Gov. J.B. Pritkzer’s signing of a law requiring all firearms, including 3D-printed ones, to be marked with serial numbers. Tina Sfondeles has more on the new law that makes near-untraceable “ghost guns” illegal.
  4. After a three-year pause to determine the cause of elevated lead levels in Chicago’s drinking water, Mayor Lightfoot got the go-ahead today to resume the installation of water meters to 180,000 households without them. Water Management Commissioner Andrea Cheng assured alderpersons the installations would be accompanied by significant safeguards.
  5. Chicago taxpayers will spend $1.9 million to compensate surviving relatives of a man murdered by an off-duty Chicago police officer in 2017. Two years ago, police officer Lowell Houser was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder in the 2017 shooting of Jose Nieves.
  6. A Cook County judge has given new life to a bid for exoneration for James Bannister, who has twice been convicted for a 1989 double-murder near the Illinois Institute of Technology. The judge on Monday called for an evidentiary hearing to delve deeper into a videotaped admission from a key witness in the second trial, and allegations prosecutors didn’t share information about another witness who also had recanted.
  7. Cook County residents soon will be able to apply for a program offering $500 a month, no strings attached, for two years, as county officials try to tackle poverty and racial inequalities. The program will have room for 3,250 randomly chosen residents, regardless of immigration status, for two years, and it’ll be funded through federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
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A bright one

Court Theatre to receive 2022 Regional Theatre Tony Award

Court Theatre, the professional theater of the University of Chicago, and one of the most critically acclaimed theater companies in the country, can add a most coveted accolade to its trove of awards: the 2022 Regional Theatre Tony Award. The news was announced this morning.

The honor comes with a $25,000 grant for the Hyde Park theater company currently in the midst of its 67th season.

The special Tony Award, which each year honors one non-profit professional regional theater from across the country for fostering “a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theater nationally,” is awarded by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, based on the recommendation the American Theatre Critics Association.

Court Theatre in Hyde Park is the 2022 recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award.

Court Theatre in Hyde Park is the 2022 recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award.

Joe Mazza

Court Theatre is the sixth Chicago theater to receive the regional Tony, joining Steppenwolf Theatre (1985), the Goodman Theatre (1992), Victory Gardens Theater (2001), Chicago Shakespeare Theater (2008) and Lookingglass Theatre (2011).

“[Court Theatre’s] dedication to fostering local talent, artistry and theatre within their community and their impact on a national scale, makes it a true honor to highlight their work,” said Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing and Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, in the official announcement.

Court Theatre was founded in 1955 as an amateur summertime theater company at the University of Chicago, pivoting to a professional Equity company in 1975. It moved to its current location — the 251-seat Abelson Auditorium at 5535 S. Ellis — in 1981, and two years later incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization under the leadership of artistic director Charles Newell since 1994, and executive director Angel Ysaguirre since 2018.

Miriam Di Nunzio has more on the award here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What do you think should be done with vacant lots in your neighborhood?

Send us an email at and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What do you think of Mayor Lightfoot’s decision to impose an earlier curfew for unaccompanied minors in Chicago?

Here’s what some of you said…

“A good start. Now we need police and prosecutors and judges to do their job.” — Virginia V. Mann

“Legislative overreach and a desperate attempt to solve a problem.” — Rebecca Stamm

“Curfew needs to be enforced and parents held accountable for minors like it use to be.” — Taketa Pates

“I think it was a knee-jerk reaction because she felt she needed to show she was taking some kind of action.” — Dennis Davis

“It’s a good idea. It’s for their safety and the people who visit and work downtown.” — Victoria Houlden

“Seems unfair to the kids who behave and may be out having fun.” — Daniel Rankin

“Good idea but it’s not going to help.” — Beverly Davis

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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