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Stories by Brandis Friedman

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 joined us to talk about her memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.”

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. 

CPS Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett Resigns

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has resigned. She has been on paid leave from her post since mid-April when the district announced it was under a federal investigation. We'll have reaction from the mayor and the Chicago Teachers Union.

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 take an inside look at how the Method soap is made and find out why it’s so important to the neighborhood.

Web Extra: On The Table with Brandis Friedman

As part of the Chicago Community Trust’s On The Table, Chicago Tonight's Brandis Friedman hosted a dinner with area residents where they shared their thoughts, concerns, opinions, and hopes for the region's future. Read her blog about the event and watch a video of what participants had to say.

CTU Rallies Against Proposed Pay Cut

| Kristen Thometz

The Chicago Teachers Union is digging in its heels over contract negotiations with the school district. Find out how far they're willing to go over what the union calls a 7 percent pay cut proposal from the city. Brandis Friedman has the details.

Steep Cuts for CPS's Capital Budget

Citing the district's $1.1 billion deficit, Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz announced that the district is proposing a $160 million capital budget for fiscal year 2016 -- a significant decline compared to FY2015's approved budget of $509 million.

The Importance of Community Colleges

| Kristen Thometz

Chicago is already offering free community college tuition to local students, and nationwide, President Barack Obama is proposing a similar plan. We talk to experts about why community colleges have received a renewed focus.

Recruiting for Advanced Placement

Evanston Township High School takes a unique approach to bringing a diverse group of students into Advanced Placement courses.

Board of Education Suspends Contract with SUPES Academy

In its first meeting since Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett took administrative leave, members of the CPS Board of Education discussed the recent series of events causing further instability for the school district.

Inside Look: The Oprah Collection

Oprah Winfrey is selling hundreds of items from her Chicago condo. Leslie Hindman Auctioneers gives us a guided tour of the lots before the auction takes place on April 25.

Reparations Package for Burge Victims

| Kristen Thometz

Victims of disgraced Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge would receive reparations under a new agreement reached by the mayor, City Council, and advocates of Burge torture victims. Find out what the package includes.

Walking Again

Doctors told U.S. Army veteran RJ Anderson that he'd never walk again after a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. But, with the help of an advanced medical device, he can. He's the first Chicagoan to take home the Re-Walk exoskeleton -- the only exoskeleton approved by the Food and Drug Administration for at-home, personal use. Find out how it works and how it might have a long-term impact on his health.

The First Lady of the Black Press

Ethel Payne

Chicago's own Ethel Payne was the third African-American to ever receive White House press credentials–and she was only the second black woman to do so. We talk with the author of a biography about the importance of her legacy.

CPS & CTU Begin Contract Talks

Contract negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools have formally begun – and the union’s initial list of demands is not the traditional one. We have the details.

Urban Warriors

As a part of its Youth Safety and Violence Prevention program, the YMCA of Metro Chicago has launched the Urban Warriors program. The unique program brings together post-9/11 combat veterans with teens from some of Chicago's tougher neighborhoods for mentoring and bonding over their shared experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder.

PARCC Testing Begins

As schools across the state begin to administer the controversial PARCC test to students, parents and legislators are pushing a movement and legislation to allow parents to let their children opt out of the test.