Stories by Brandis Friedman

For CPS, It's Back to School Under Cloudy Skies, Murky Finances

Hundreds of thousands of Chicago Public Schools students return to the classroom amid massive financial woes for the district: an expired teacher contract and a $480 million budget hole. On Chicago Tonight, we'll hear from students and principals at some schools experiencing the deepest cuts, and from CPS administrators visiting schools on their first day. 

Fox Lake Mourns Officer's Death as Search for Suspects Enters Day 2

| Sean Keenehan
Lt. Joe Gliniewicz

The far north suburban community of Fox Lake is still grieving as dozens of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers search for three suspects who allegedly shot and killed Fox Lake police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz early Tuesday morning. Brandis Friedman visited Fox Lake on Wednesday and she joins us with the latest.

Summer Pilot Program 'Targets' Violence Perpetrators

For three hundred South and West Side Chicagoans, a summer job meant more than just a few extra bucks – it may have also meant a safer community. A pilot program called Target 7-11 H.I.T. paid neighbors in Englewood and the west side of Garfield Park to work as violence interrupters, during what is a notoriously deadly time of year for those communities. Brandis Friedman explains how it works.

The Fight Over Dyett High School

The fight to reopen a South Side high school has caused 12 parents and activists to go on a hunger strike to get Chicago Public Schools to hear their concerns. We look at the history of the closure and what the new proposals are.

CPS Board Votes on Controversial Budget

| Sean Keenehan

The Chicago Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously today to pass a much-criticized $5.6 billion budget that includes almost $480 million from the state, $1 billion dollars in borrowing, and what teachers and parents are calling massive cuts to special education. Brandis Friedman joins us tonight with the latest from downtown.

60 Years Later: The Murder of Emmett Till

The death of the 14-year-old Chicago boy, brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955, became far more than just another lynching during the Jim Crow era. His mother's decision to display the mutilated body of Emmett Till during his funeral altered the course of history by invigorating a movement. Till's family remembers his life and his death, and compares his story to those we hear today.

Project Fire Ignites Passion for Glass Making

Glass blowing is an expensive art, and not a typical means of managing trauma from gun violence. But a University of Chicago pediatric clinical psychologist has teamed up with a local glassblowing non-profit to help teenaged survivors of gun violence mentally recover from their traumatic experiences. Brandis Friedman has the story.

CPS' Budget Proposal Calls for Layoffs, $480 Million from Springfield

Chicago Public Schools unveiled Monday a $5.7 billion operating budget proposal that includes laying off 1,491 employees (479 of which are teachers), raising property taxes by $19 million, and banking on $480 million in pension relief from state lawmakers. Chicago Tonight’s Brandis Friedman walks us through the proposal.

Child Care Advocates Seek Investigation Into Program Changes

There are new rules this summer surrounding child care for low-income families in Illinois. Child care advocates say that the changes–which they argue are not connected to the state budget impasse in Springfield–will eliminate 90 percent of new program applicants from eligibility. 

50 Years Later, Fair Housing Movement on North Shore Marches On

Fifty years ago, a number of white suburban residents started a fair-housing movement called the North Shore Summer Project, and their work caught the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Chicago Tonight’s Brandis Friedman takes a closer look at the movement – then and now – to diversify the area.

Money on the Table at CPS Board Meeting

The summer of 2015 has been rife with financial complications for Chicago Public Schools. The district has long been in a billion dollar budget hole, and school board members today voted to approve taking on just over a billion dollars in additional debt. Chicago Tonight's Brandis Friedman joins us Wednesday with details.

Student Teachers 'STEP-UP' to Chicago

ISU's STEP-UP program at work.

In preparation for becoming public school teachers, students at Illinois State University's College of Education are receiving a full immersion in Chicago this summer. It's called the Summer Teacher Education Partnership for Urban Preparation, or STEP-UP.

CPS Schools to get Less Money in Upcoming School Year

Chicago Public Schools principals are finally getting a look at their budgets for the school year that starts in September. The district says, altogether, it is releasing $31 million less to schools this year, because of declining enrollment.

Ruling on Mayor’s Pension Plan Delayed

The City of Chicago will have to wait two more weeks before a judge's ruling on whether pension legislation supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel is constitutional. Lawyers representing city workers, as well as the city and the employee pension funds made their cases to Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita Novak Thursday morning. Novak said she will issue a ruling on Friday, July 24.

Coalition Files Suit Over Gun Sales in Suburbs

Several mothers of young men killed by gun violence in Chicago are named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against three suburban Chicago communities: Lyons, Riverdale, and Lincolnwood. Attorneys who filed the suit Tuesday morning explain that those towns have lax or insufficient methods of licensing and regulating their gun dealers, and are therefore disproportionately impacting poor and minority communities in Chicago.

Community Steadies School District

All of the schools in North Chicago have been in some state of academic failure for years. To address the unmet needs of the students and schools, a nonprofit was formed by a local family foundation. Brandis Friedman reports on the district’s transformation.

CPS' Early College Stem High Schools

At five CPS neighborhood high schools, students are earning college credit through a number of dual-credit courses. Those schools are also providing those students with a focused education on the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, or STEM for short. We take a look at how these schools work, how partnering with corporations like Microsoft and IBM helps, and why learning STEM benefits students who don't want to pursue science as a profession.

Misty Copeland on ‘Life in Motion’

Ballerina Misty Copeland became the first African-American female principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre on Tuesday. In October, Copeland visited Chicago Tonight to talk about her recently published memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. We revisit her conversation with Brandis Friedman.

CPS' Financial Disaster

In light of a recent report by Ernst & Young regarding the school district's dire finances, the hotly debated issue is expected to be front and center at the last board meeting of the fiscal year. This meeting falls the day after state legislators in Springfield failed to pass a measure allowing the district to delay a substantial payment to the teacher pension fund.

Un-Chartered Territory

When CPS shuttered 50 elementary schools a couple of years ago, the district promised those neighborhood schools would not be replaced by charter schools. But, as the city's 130 charter schools continue to open and expand, some are having difficulty finding the right real estate for their schools. We take a look at one charter school struggling to find a permanent home.

The Real Piper Kerman

| Steffie Drucker
Credit: Brian Bowen Smith

Just as fans plant themselves in front of their screens for a binge-watching session of the third season of the popular Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, the real life main character, Piper Kerman, is back in Chicago. She joins us on Chicago Tonight.

Method Factory

Colorful Factory Brings Green Tech to Pullman

| Kristen Thometz

For the first time in 30 years, a brand-new factory has opened in the historic Pullman neighborhood. We took an inside look at how the Method soap is made and find out why it’s so important to the neighborhood. 

A Charter School Model Different from Most

An Intrinsic Schools classroom holds roughly 50 to 60 students. Though, it's counterintuitive to what research says about smaller classrooms, the school splits those students into multiple smaller groups. Brandis Friedman takes a closer look at this unique charter school model.

Project-Based Learning Creates Solar Cars, Homeless Shelters

Students at Haines Elementary School in Chinatown are learning the Next Generation Science Standards by building solar-powered cars and portable homeless shelters. Teachers there are combining all aspects of a STEM education--science, technology, engineering, and math--while students complete fun projects.

Chicago Teachers Union Rallies

On the heels of former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett's resignation, and as they are in the middle of contract negotiations with the district, thousands of Chicago Teachers Union members rally in the Loop to demonstrate their frustration with the district.