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Nikka Ewing

Nikka Ewing said she has taken out $60,000 in federal student loans and still has not finished DeVvry’s bachelor of software engineering program.

Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

The Rundown: For-profit colleges often leave students worse off

Plus, the dozen Chicago restaurants with cameos in season three of “The Bear.” Here’s what you need to know today.

Good afternoon! I watched most of the new season of “The Bear” last night, and the third episode reminded me why I never want to work in a restaurant. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Students at Illinois’ for-profit colleges often leave worse off than when they started

A WBEZ analysis of federal data and a WBEZ survey of more than 250 current and former students found that for-profit education programs in Illinois too often leave students struggling to pay off mountains of debt with wages just as low as those of a high school graduate.

And as my colleagues Lisa Kurian Philip, Esther Yoon-Ji Kang and Amy Qin report, the programs often target Black and low-income students, who enroll at for-profit colleges at much higher rates than they do at nonprofit and public colleges or universities.

The often subpar education can be traced to for-profit colleges answering to owners and investors whose priority is to maximize earnings. Because the schools get nearly all their revenue from tuition and fees, they’re incentivized to spend a lot on getting students in the door — but far less on educating them.

Experts and advocates told WBEZ the ways in which these schools are designed to meet students where they are — with aggressive recruiting and marketing, locations in communities of color and schedules that accommodate work and childcare — point to holes in Illinois’ public and nonprofit higher education ecosystem. [WBEZ]

2. Homeowners in Cook County’s south suburbs are hit hard by the latest round of property tax hikes

With property tax bills set to hit mailboxes next week, the median bill jumped a record-high 19.9% across the southern portion of the county, including bills that more than doubled in Dixmoor and Phoenix, Mitchell Armentrout reports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Cook County homeowners saw the vast majority of the increase, with 1.3 million seeing hikes compared to 88,000 commercial properties.

Along with higher levies from taxing bodies, treasurer’s officials blamed the hikes on the elimination of COVID-19 assessment reductions, higher home sale prices and more businesses successfully appealing their assessments to lower their property tax bills — shifting the burden elsewhere.

Many south and southwest suburban homeowners who owed no property taxes last year — because of exemptions that exceeded their assessed home values — will get bills this year because of a 34% overall increase in assessments. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Chicago’s heat wave response sparked a call for a City Council hearing

Advocates for seniors, low-income residents, the homeless and other vulnerable people were outraged last week when Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration closed all but one cooling center and all of the city’s libraries on Juneteenth, the fourth day of the dangerous heat wave, my colleague Brett Chase writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Effective communication and timely decision-making are critical in ensuring public safety during extreme weather conditions, and the current system’s shortcomings must be addressed,” according to a resolution calling for a public hearing filed by Ald. Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward.

The resolution also calls for improvements to the city’s role in extreme cold weather. The hearing has an “aim of improving coordination, transparency and timely public communication” in emergency situations related to weather. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. Joe Biden and Donald Trump will debate tonight. Here’s what to watch for.

The first presidential debate of this year’s general election will happen months earlier than usual, with a new set of rules agreed upon by both candidates.

Topics will likely include recent legal cases, the economy, immigration policy and the wars in Ukraine and Israel, NPR reports.

Biden and Trump are the only presidential candidates who qualified for the debate stage after independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. failed to meet the polling and state ballot threshold.

The debate will be available on CNN and the streaming platform Max, formerly known as HBO. Viewers without a cable login can watch on CNN’s website. WBEZ will be providing live on-air special coverage on 91.5FM and [NPR]

5. The dozen Chicago restaurants with cameos in season three of ‘The Bear’

Chicago restaurants were again in the spotlight. But unlike previous seasons that focused on a balance of exciting newcomers and scene-stalwarts, this season calls out a list of casual spots with deep roots in Chicago’s food history, from Italian bread staple D’Amato’s to the Vienna Beef factory.

The show previously had come under criticism for not highlighting enough South and West Side eateries — it doesn’t fully rectify that in this season, though cameras do venture to Maxwell Street and Chinatown this time.

My colleagues Cassie Walker Burke, Sandra Salib and I put together a list of local spots we tracked in a binge watch of the new season. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Melissa Bell was named CEO of Chicago Public Media and will oversee WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times. [WBEZ/Sun-Times]
  • The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a bankruptcy settlement involving Purdue Pharma, the company that makes Oxytocin. [NPR]
  • Here’s how tensions in Bolivia fueled an attempt to oust President Luis Arce. [AP]
  • Walgreens could close hundreds of stores over the next three years. [AP]

Oh, and one more thing …

When you go to the theater to see a show, each scene performed and every line spoken is the result of meticulous planning, rehearsal and partnerships. But some scenes take more work than others.

In The Hot Wing King, winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, one key moment onstage is a particular feat: balancing the lyrical complexity of the award-winning script with what it takes to cook and eat fried chicken wings onstage.

When this cast and crew arrived at the intersection of emotional gymnastics and smoking hot cooking oil, they worked weeks on stage and in the “chicken lab” to nail the moment flawlessly. During a recent rehearsal, they walked WBEZ through the process of how they did it.

The Hot Wing King opens Friday at Writers Theatre and runs until July 21. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

Instead of a long trip this summer, I’m planning to take shorter, day- or weekend-long trips around the Midwest by train. So I’m wondering, what are your favorite quick getaways in the Chicago area?

Brian writes:

“Try da Yoop (upper peninsula of Michigan). Especially Marquette and the Keweenaw Peninsula (to Copper Harbor). Awesome countryside and awesome people. And excellent fish.”

Michael writes:

“I don’t know how close Amtrak can get you, but Bayfield, WI is my choice for a great Upper Midwest summer getaway. Kayak into caves on Lake Superior, play 18 holes on Madeline Island, see a show at Big Top Chatauqua and even [if] you’re craving McDonald’s or BK — you can’t find one!”

And George writes:

“If you want a really weird experience, try Spring Green, Wisconsin, to see The House on the Rock. Who doesn’t love a fireplace room with shag carpeting? Who wouldn’t want to hear ‘Octopus Garden’ on an endless loop in the Sea Monster room, with models of nonexistent warships on display? Like organs? See them with built-in TVs (if bored with the melodies one plays, I suppose) in another delightful room. I got in for free as a teacher. I received quite an education!”

Feel free to email me, and your response may be included in the newsletter this week.

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