Stories by Brandis Friedman

Confessions of a Mommy Blogger in New Book on ‘Mediocre Parenting’

So what if the kids have a television for a babysitter and a Big Mac for dinner—five nights in a row? They're alive. These are the hilarious confessions of Chicago mommy blogger Karen Alpert, who is out with her second book, "I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting."

Karen Lewis: Rauner Holding Schoolchildren ‘Hostage’

As the head of the Chicago Teachers Union warns of a strike, the district makes one last pitch to reach a contract agreement. 

Transforming the Classroom to Personalize Learning

Some schools are changing the structure of the classroom and how students are learning. Brandis Friedman visits one West Side charter school that's taking a personal approach to learning.

Cook County Court Removes Cellphone Lockers

People who took public transportation to the Cook County Court building Monday at 26th and California were surprised to find that the lockers they used to protect their phones were gone. And with a courthouse cellphone ban in effect, it left many not knowing what to do.

Chicago Teachers Picket, Rally During 1-Day Walkout

| Nick Blumberg

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey started his day at Roosevelt High School in Albany Park. He hopes Friday’s walkout sparks action on the state budget. At Beasley Elementary in the Washington Park neighborhood, CTU President Karen Lewis rallied her troops and argued funding is exactly what the strike is about.

CPS, CTU Announce Plans for April 1 Teacher Walkout

Parents of Chicago Public Schools students still searching for alternatives to attending school this Friday will have their pick of 262 contingency sites announced today by the district. Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union has released a tentative schedule of events, which includes picketing schools and rallying downtown during rush hour.

CPS Scrambles to Prepare for April 1 Teacher Walkout

Forrest Claypool

The Chicago Teachers Union says the vote for a one-day strike passed overwhelmingly. But a vocal minority still opposes it.

Report: Cook County Leads in White Youth Employment, Black Youth Joblessness

Criminal backgrounds, homelessness and lack of education and opportunity are all factors in preventing black youth between the ages of 16 and 24 from finding employment, according to a report released by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute.

Report Highlights Struggles in Chicago's Segregated Communities

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great Migration, but a new report from the Chicago Urban League says many blacks still live in racially segregated and impoverished neighborhoods.

CPS Sues Former CEO, Asks Principals to Save Cash

Chicago Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against former Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett. The complaint, filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks $65 million in money damages and civil penalties.

State Commission Overturns CPS Decision to Close 3 Low-Performing Charters

Forrest Claypool

Three Chicago charter schools are celebrating a victory today: a state commission has ruled they will be able to remain open, despite Chicago Public Schools' plans to close them for poor performance.

Exploring a School with No Classrooms

Screen shot from "Most Likely to Succeed"

Imagine a high school where classrooms aren't divided by subject matter, and there aren't even class periods or bells – and teachers are told to teach however they want. That's the reality for a high school in California profiled in the documentary, "Most Likely to Succeed."

CPS Teachers Among Those Laid Off in Latest Round of Cuts

CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey

Chicago Public Schools students could see their teachers on the picket lines sooner than expected, as the district announces how many employees are being laid off today.

Study: Slow Thinking Reduces Crime in Chicago

It sounds simple: slow down and make better choices. Most of us don't do that as well as we could, but researchers are studying how the simple act of slowing down can reduce crime. Brandis Friedman has the story.

Group Calls for Special Prosecutor in Laquan McDonald Case

Task Force: Police Videos, Reports Should be Released in 60 Days

Sixty days: That’s the maximum amount of time Chicago Police should take before allowing the public to see recordings or reports of police-involved incidents. The recommendation from the Mayor's Police Accountability Task Force comes on the same day as a group of attorneys and elected officials calls for a special prosecutor in the case that led to the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Basketball Hall of Fame Finalist Sheryl Swoopes Heads LUC Women's Team

Sheryl Swoopes

The basketball legend is now a coach here in Chicago, and she's helping the Loyola women's basketball team give it their best shot.

‘Rocket Docket’ Sends Low-Level Jail Inmates Home

The Cook County Sheriff's Office is finding a way to keep certain criminal defendants at home and on the job, instead of in jail while they await trial. Brandis Friedman takes a look at how a two-year pilot program designed to release inmates jailed for low-level offenses is working so far.

CPS Principals Learn How Deep Budgets Will Be Cut

Blaine Elementary Principal Troy LaRaviere

Today, Chicago Public Schools principals are learning just how deep their budgets will be cut after last week's announcement that the district was slashing more than $100 million from annual school budgets.

‘Downton Abbey’ Costumes Come to Chicago's Driehaus Museum

| Chloe Riley

Afternoon tea in the parlor and dressing in black tie just to have dinner at home: that was everyday life for the fictional, aristocratic Crawley family. Starting today, Downton fans can get an up-close look at those fashions in a new exhibit at the Driehaus Museum. Brandis Friedman takes us inside.

Examining the Impact of a State Takeover of Local Schools

In a report released last month, researchers say they have no consensus over whether local control of a school district is any better for student performance or financial management than state control of a school district. Brandis Friedman takes a look at one district where the state is in charge to see how its schools are faring.

Chicago Public Schools Announces More Cuts

Forrest Claypool

Just a day after the Chicago Teachers Union rejected the school board's latest contract offer, Chicago Public Schools is announcing cuts. CEO Forrest Claypool says the district is still working to avoid teacher layoffs, but some staffers will lose their jobs in order for the district to save money.

Chicago Teachers Union Unanimously Rejects District's Latest Offer

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union bargaining unit say they spent hours and hours considering the school board's "serious" contract offer. But on Monday, the group announced that they could not accept it.

Restoring Classic Cars is Driving Force for Better Futures

For many young men, their first car is also their first love. But for some of Chicago's at-risk teens and young adults their first car isn't theirs to drive–but theirs to fix. Learning classic car restoration is more than just a trade, it's a chance to pave a new future. Brandis Friedman has the story.

CPS Lays Off 227 Central Office Employees

Forrest Claypool

Chicago Public Schools today gave layoff notices to some administrative employees as part of efforts to reduce its $480 million budget shortfall. "There’s no doubt that these cuts are painful," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. "However, with limited resources and a budget crisis not just this year but into the foreseeable future, we had no choice."

Chicago Lawmakers Say TIF Surplus Can Help Close CPS Budget Gap

Just a day after Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republican leaders in the General Assembly proposed a state takeover of the financially distressed Chicago Public Schools, lawmakers propose altering the TIF legislation to allow a surplus to be spent on the district.