What happened to the 50 schools Rahm Emanuel closed, a family’s challenges after immigration 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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The former Ross Elementary School on the South Side. The school remains vacant and city-owned 10 years after it was closed.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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)

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This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 73 degrees. Similar weather will continue into tonight with a low near 47. Tomorrow — sunny with a high of 69. And Sunday — also sunny with a high near 77.

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Ten years later, more than half of Chicago’s closed schools remain unused

In the year before Chicago closed what would be an unprecedented 50 public schools in 2013, neighbors of many of the targeted schools offered a warning to then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Once emptied, they said, the buildings would only end up hurting their neighborhoods.

These buildings, almost all on the South Side and the West Side, were mainly in communities already wanting for investment, already drained of residents. They were old and in need of costly repairs. And they were built to be schools. So finding any possible reuses for the buildings, let alone anything like the community anchors they had been, would be a gargantuan and expensive task.

Still, Emanuel plowed ahead, saying that keeping kids in “half-empty schools” wasn’t good for anyone. “The city of Chicago has an opportunity to use these facilities to revitalize our economy in key areas and expand opportunity for Chicagoans in our neighborhoods,” Emanuel said at the time.

Ten years later, that promise rings hollow. More than half of the buildings emptied of children and teachers in 2013 still aren’t back in use.

Over six months, reporters from the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ have visited each of the shuttered buildings. The closings of 50 schools, including four that shared facilities, left 46 buildings empty.

Reporters spoke with dozens of neighbors and reviewed thousands of public documents to learn what has become of the schools spread across 21 wards that were closed by Emanuel’s chosen schools CEO and school board. Read the full investigation from our Nader Issa and Lauren FitzPatrick and WBEZ’s Sarah Karp and Alden Loury.

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A bright one ✨

Ángela Aguilar celebrating her own musical road, with a loving nod to her Mexican traditions

The internet’s princess of regional Mexican music is coming to town.

Ángela Aguilar is kicking off her Piensa En Mi tour on June 2 at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.

The 19-year-old knows that her last name carries with it a musical legacy. After all, she’s the daughter of legendary singer Pepe Aguilar, born while her mother accompanied him on tour in Mexico in 2003.

Now as the third generation of Mexican mariachi and ranchera singers, Aguilar is a part of one of Mexico’s most famous “royal” families, led by her grandparents Antonio Aguilar and Flor Silvestre. She doesn’t let that go to her head, though — even with a doll created in her likeness.


Ángela Aguilar speaks onstage during the 2020 Spotify Awards at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City. Aguilar headlines Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre on June 2.

Getty Images

“I’m just starting out and I have a long way to go,” she said in an interview with the Sun-Times. “Being third generation means that probably everything that you’re going to do, they have already done.”

She’s excited to be kicking off her tour in Chicago, home to a direct Greyhound bus route to the Mexican state of Zacatecas, where her grandfather was born in 1919. It’s a route thousands of proud Zacatecanos have taken over the years to call Chicago home.

“You can imagine how many people from the town are [in Chicago],” she said. “And every time I go, it feels like home.

“... I feel like Chicago is one of those places that really honors Mexican traditions,” she continued. The city is home to hundreds of thousands of people with Mexican heritage, and is a culinary haven when it comes to regional dishes.

Our Ambar Colón has more with Aguilar ahead of her June 2 stint at the Auditorium Theatre.

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