50 closed schools 10 years later, the Bears hope for Springfield help in moving stadium 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.

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There was fierce opposition to the school closings in many quarters of the city. Here, Matthew Johnson, center, a member of the Local School Council at Dewey Elementary Academy of Fine Arts, speaks out during a May 18, 2013 march.

Andrew A. Nelles/Sun-Times Media

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

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

Weather 🌤️

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 75 degrees. Tonight, a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms with a low near 61. Showers are likely tomorrow with a high near 69.

Top story

Chicago closed 50 public schools 10 years ago. Did the city keep its promises?

Ten years ago, Chicago closed 50 schools as part of a decision by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel — shutting down more American schools at one time than ever before.

The Sun-Times and WBEZ spent months investigating the promises made 10 years ago by city and Chicago Public Schools officials as they shuttered the schools, examining how the closings changed the city, the school system, the children and their families, and studying potential alternate solutions.

In the coming weeks, our series of stories will explore three core promises made:

  • Students would be better off after their schools were closed.
  • Their new schools would be transformed.
  • Former school buildings would be reborn as community assets.

These promises largely have never been realized. And city and school leaders haven’t tracked the outcomes.

In justifying the closings, Emanuel said it was wrong to leave students in schools that had become severely underenrolled, were consistently low-performing and were falling apart. Those three criteria would primarily determine which schools would close and which would be spared. All but one of the schools served elementary age students.

But the consequences of the closings still reverberate long after the officials who vowed to do better by Chicago’s school children have moved on. The hurt is still palpable among families who wanted their struggling schools funded and improved, not taken away. And the neighborhoods around the closed schools suffered.

Amid continued population loss in predominantly Black communities, the immediate areas around closed schools saw steeper drops in the years after the closings, a Sun-Times and WBEZ analysis of census data found.

Read the first installation in our series exploring the closings from our Nader Issa and Lauren FitzPatrick and WBEZ’s Sarah Karp and Alden Loury.

More news you need

A bright one ✨

Chicago Symphony Orchestra librarians know the score

Shortly before each Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert is set to begin, someone discreetly walks onstage to place a score on the conductor’s music stand, then returns to retrieve it when that first piece is over — a process repeated for each selection on the program.

Those brief, easy-to-ignore trips across the stage are the only times that audiences get a glimpse at the three staff members who work in one of the CSO’s most important if little-known behind-the-scenes departments — its library.

Located one floor below the Orchestra Hall stage, this windowless space serves as a repository for the music the orchestra owns and a work space for three librarians.


Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s librarian Carole Keller (from left), principal librarian Peter Conover and librarian Mark Swanson are photographed amid the music stands — each with its corresponding instrument music folder — on stage at Symphony Center. The trio precisely distributes each folder for a performance and removes them afterward for return to the orchestra’s library.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

They procure the necessary scores and sets of parts for each program, prepare them for the musicians’ use and distribute them three to four weeks in advance of concerts.

“I’m part of a big picture, but I’m not on stage,” said librarian Carole Keller, who got her start as an undergraduate working part-time for the orchestra library at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

“I like being behind the scenes. I like being support. I like knowing what I do makes a difference. I feel like if I do my job to the best of my abilities, it makes what happens on stage go so much better.”

More with these librarians from Kyle MacMillan.

From the press box 🏈🏀⚾️

Your daily question☕

A decade has passed since former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration closed 50 Chicago schools. How have you seen that decision impact the city?

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

Yesterday we asked you: What’s your favorite part about living in your neighborhood?

Here’s some of what you said...

“We love the walkability to beautiful parks, restaurants and shopping!” — Krista N. Josh McCallum

“Albany Park has shown up for our new migrant neighbors with love, solidarity, and fierce organizing prowess. Community care runs deep here.” — Nellie Barrett

“Wonderful neighbors who help each other!” — Jennifer Palm

“In Edgewater, I love the diversity, proximity to the lake, the abundance of restaurants, shops, groceries, dogs and easy access to public transportation.” — Susan Danzig

“I live in an apartment building. I know most of the residents. We watch out for each other like family.” — Dave Martinez

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

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