Chicago’s Water Bill Burden

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When Anthena Gore was a teenager, she noticed that water in her home tasted different than water at school or at her friends’ houses in the suburbs. She also noticed that other Black Chicagoans near her North Lawndale residence had a similar experience. 

Gore, an adolescent at that time, felt drawn to the natural world, especially water – “the only digestible utility we have,â€� she said that is so simple yet essential. Years later, she turned her fascination into a profession and became a programs strategist at Elevate, a nonprofit organization designing programs to bring clean and affordable heat, power, and water to vulnerable communities. 

Working with water, Gore still believes it is simple. “It’s really the system that we have built, the infrastructure we have used, and the way we have structured our communities that makes something so simple very difficult,� she says. And she knows about it first-hand too:

Gore is a co-author of City of Chicago Water Affordability Analysis, a joint report from Elevate and the Metropolitan Planning Council. According to the report, in Chicago, the water burden is not evenly distributed across households of different races or income levels. 

Photo by Chanhee Lee on Unsplash

The water bill burden is the percentage of a household’s income that goes toward paying water bills

“We saw that for Chicago’s lowest-income households, the burden is about 10%, “Gore explained. “Which is way over the 4.5% threshold that the Environmental Protection Agency set nationally.” 

Translated into more straightforward language, low-income households in Chicago have to pay a disproportionally big chunk of their income for water. Big bills result in water debt or shutoffs, leaving families without water.

Which households are the most affected? Since the household-level income data is not available, Elevate looked at the census tract and the income quintiles  – groups within the population that are compiled based on how much of their income they have left to spend freely after taxes and other deductions – to isolate small geographic regions and determine average household income in it. 

The report found that the most affected households in Chicago are on the city’s West and Soth sides – Such as Austin and Humboldt Park on the West side and Riverdale and South Deering on the far Southside – where the majority of the population is non-White. For example, the water bill burden for Black households in places like Riverdale reaches an alarming 19 percent of the household’s total annual income. In contrast, the water bill burden for majorly White families, for example, on the North Side, sits at 4 percent. Oliver Ciciora, an environmental justice organizer with the Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), attributes the disproportion to environmental racism and historical redlining of the city. 

Ciciora says investments in Black and Brown low-income communities are scarce – to the point where lack of such an essential service as transportation prevents Southsiders from accessing Downtown Chicago and its higher-paying job market. Gore agrees: “In certain places [across Illinois], the incomes have kept pace or outpaced the water expenses for households,� he says. “In many of Chicago’s southern suburbs, the incomes have not kept pace.� 

How is water billed in Chicago?

To answer why water expenses are increasing in Chicago, it is vital to understand how billing works: Each water bill includes charges for the sewer and garbage lines, fees, and additional payments. The average bill increases drastically – by $500 annually – if a household is not metered. In this case, a home gets billed once every six months, while its metered counterpart receives bills every two or three months. With significant gaps, bills are more costly, resulting in higher taxes and more frequent penalties for late payment. 

How is the City of Chicago responding?

The election campaign of now-Chicago’s-mayor Lori Lightfoot relied heavily on water-related promises. The promises came to life with varying success:

In 2019, when Lightfoot took office, around 150,000 households in the city had received shutoff orders. The same year, the mayor introduced a moratorium on water shutoffs, banning shutoffs due to non-payment. However, the pandemic prolonged the moratorium, which expired on April 1, 2022. By the end of April, the mayor re-introduced it, aiming to ban water shutoffs again, but it was voted down in May 2022. Water commissioner Andrea Cheng said at the time that the Chicago City Council generally agreed with the intent of improving water affordability. Still, it would also not be possible to implement what the ordinance required. 

Anthena Gore supports the ordinance and says water advocates are pushing to make it permanent. 

In 2019 Chicago terminated the MeterSave Program –which had installed 130,000 meters citywide since its launch in 2009 – citing concerns with lead levels in the water. In May 2022, however, Major Lightfoot pledged to resume the voluntary installation of water meters to 180,000 households without them.

Oliver Ciciora is skeptical about the initiative: “The current ordinance about metering is not concrete,� he says. “It states that the City may change the meters within 90 days, but it doesn’t say that they will install a meter into your home.�

As the metering process might prove lengthy still, Gore suggests formulating a new calculation for nonmetered households. The current formula is based on factors like the square footage of the building, the number of outputs, and others, so “bills do not reflect the actual usage of water in the household,â€� Gore adds. 

In 2020, Chicago also switched to a permanent utility billing relief program. Through the program, qualified residents of Chicago will be paying their water and sewer charges – with garbage charges not included – at a 50 percent reduced rate. In addition, after paying on time for 12 months, they will be forgiven their past water debt. 

“[Residents] can stay on the program indefinitely as long as they are income-eligible,” Gore explains. “So that helped a little bit with the non-meter issue, but it doesn’t exactly address the entire affordability challenge across the city.” Indeed, the program is limited to homeowners of single-family or 2-unit properties whose income qualification is generally 200 percent of the federal poverty level. 

Is there a better approach to water affordability?

Ciciora and his colleagues at SOUL have been working closely with their colleagues in Baltimore, Maryland, in an attempt to advocate for an equivalent of the city’s successful Water ForAll program. 

In 2015 the city of Baltimore was facing a wave of water shutoffs, where 20 thousand households were left without access to water. Advocacy groups, such as Food and Water Watch, got involved and have since been trying to change the city’s approach to water. As a result, Baltimore passed the Water Accountability and Equity Act this year – the model SOUL hopes to implement in Chicago. 

“The idea of this model is income-based water affordability,” explains Mary Grant, the Public Water for all campaign director at Food and Water Watch. The program uses a formula to calculate the maximum amount of bills a resident should pay for annual water and sewer services based on the household income percentage. The percentage can not exceed 3 percent of a household’s income and so would not burden it to the point where residents are forced to remain without water. 

Where grassroots organizations first popularized the income-based approach two decades ago, Philadelphia was the first and only city before Baltimore to pass the law in 2017. Since then, “they gave about $10 million in discounts a year, but the net cost after you account for improved bill payment patterns is $2 million,” Grant says. “So they’re actually only collecting $2 million less, even despite providing $10 million in discounts.” 

For Grant, this is evidence of improved bill payment patterns, where the city is collecting more money after assisting than it used to without it. “It’s a win-win situation for the city and the customers,” Grant adds.

Despite seemingly positive data from Philadelphia, cities have been reluctant to follow suit: In Detroit, advocates have fought for years, collecting data and generating research, but the city has not passed the law yet. Mary Grant sees this as a problem that easily translates to Chicago’s situation:

“The utility itself can be hesitant to change without good leadership, right?” She says. “You need proactive leadership and legislation to make that change.” 

“It’s really the system that we have built, the infrastructure we have used, and the way we have structured our communities that makes something so simple very difficult”

Athena Gore, Strategist, Water Programs, Elevate

Gore sees cultural factors in Chicago’s unwillingness to change: 

“The [utilities] industry has been predominantly homogeneous for half a century, with infrastructure that has not been upgraded for almost two centuries. America, in general, is at a turning point right now where once we bring everybody in, we can start from a place of justice.” She adds that affordability concerns should start with respect for every individual affected. 

Mary Grant echoes her sentiment by concluding in a clear, digestible manner – isn’t water the only digestible utility after all? – “Just providing assistance isn’t enough. You really need to meet people where they’re at, making sure they have bills that are affordable for them based on their income.”

Cover Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash

Irina Matchavariani is a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism.

She is working with Illinois Latino News (ILLN) as part of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute’s (RJI) Student Innovation Fellowships program, gaining hands-on experience helping the outlets connect with their audiences.

A native of the Republic of Georgia, Irina’s experience includes working with Vox Magazine and the Columbia Missourian.

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Gen U employees ask: “Is there a better way to work and live?”

Unions are having a comeback after years of declining influence. Employees from companies across the country are increasingly organizing to ask for more benefits, pay, and safety from their employers.

Experts say employee organizing at high-profile companies like Amazon, Apple, Trader Joe’s, and Starbucks is due to the pandemic inspiring workers to question, ‘is there another way to work and live?’ and the relationship dynamic between employers and workers.

Starbucks leads the surge of unionizations as baristas in over 200 stores across the country have filed for union elections. So far, 165 stores have won their elections, while only 26 stores have lost.

According to Fernando Vargas-Soto, a former Starbucks employee in Logan Square, the employees started thinking about unionizing back in December, when the company started rolling back some of their COVID policies despite the country’s surge of the Omicron variant at the time. He said the plastic barriers at the store’s counters were removed, and their COVID isolation pay (Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay) was reduced.

Former Starbucks employee Fernando Vargas-Soto was fired in May in what he says was a retaliatory move by Starbucks in response to his efforts to unionize the store.

“At one point, we actually had to physically get a positive test result from a clinic, at home test would not suffice,� he said. “When I got sick, I was only given five days of isolation. So I was still testing positive when I had to go back. So I was working while still testing positive.�

Workers at the Starbucks’ Loop location also struggled with the company’s COVID policies. According to Zero Muñoz, who works there, many employees had difficulty securing their sick pay from the company. Additionally, they often faced harassment from customers whenever they tried to enforce the city’s mask mandate at the time.

Another main concern baristas at Muñoz’s store had was security; staff had been asking for improvements from the company for months.

“We do not feel safe for a huge portion of the day,� Muñoz said. She added that a big trigger was how an angry customer had threatened to shoot the employees present at the store last year. According to her, management did not do anything to address their concerns about safety until after they had filed for a union election. At that point, the company assigned a security guard to her store. However, employees pointed out that the guard isn’t present all the time.

“We just wanted to feel more secure, we wanted to feel safer, and we wanted to feel better about our work environment,� Munoz said concerning why they decided to unionize.

Starbucks Accused of Anti-union Tactics 

Of those that voted to reject the union in the Chicago area, the Loop and Logan Square were among the locations.

“It’s pretty unfortunate; I definitely feel pretty frustrated and sad,� said Vargas-Soto. Their store had filed for union certification in early January, but voting didn’t happen until May. He said that he feels the long wait contributed to why their store ultimately voted against the union.

“The amount of time that we had to wait really allowed the team to feel tired,� he said. He added that during the months-long wait, anti-union workers and managers spent spreading misinformation and launching attacks on pro-union employees. The other store in Chicago that lost its elections also had a similar several-month-long wait in between their filing and their elections.

One employee was transferred to a different store without prior approval, while another had their hours cut so severely that they ultimately had to look for another job. Things came to a head when Vargas-Soto himself was fired in early May, which he says was retaliation from management for his union activities.

“I was fired because I was supposed to come in for work at 9 am, but because of the construction near my store, I had to park really far away,” he said. “I was told that the policy is if I know that I’m going to be late before my shift starts, I’m supposed to call the store to let them know that I would be late. So that’s what I did. And despite that, I was fired for being six minutes late.”

Vargas-Soto added that on previous occasions that he was late, management would single him out and reprimand or punish him despite other employees occasionally showing up to work late.

According to Workers United, Starbucks has aggressively pursued anti-union tactics against its employees and punished those who have led efforts to unionize. As a result, the union has filed more than 180 unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB’s Buffalo office has found “serious and substantial� misconduct on Starbucks’ end and has charged the company with more than 200 labor law violations.

The Barista Uprising

Before the Starbucks movement, other coffee shop employees in the city turned to unionization to address similar problems. Simon Rafet has worked for the past four months at Colectivo, a Wisconsin-based roaster and cafe chain with five Chicago-area locations. All Colectivo branches are unionized and represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBW). However, since they only unionized last year, they are still negotiating a contract.

IBW is also working to represent employees at Intelligentsia Coffee, which joined a still-growing wave of labor organizing among employees at coffee companies locally and across the U.S.

Pro-union staff at Intelligentsia’s six-city cafes and its Chicago Roasting Works warehouse in the West Loop submitted the petition in late May.

Like Starbucks employees, Rafet and his coworkers are fighting for better pay and company support.

A month ago, Rafet caught COVID from a coworker while on the job and had difficulty securing paid time off.

“I had to go beg for my PTO, and I only got 16 hours,� Rafet said.

Robert Bruno, the Director of the Labor Studies Program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), believes that unionization is the best path forward for workers to secure more rights for themselves.

“They have to take it upon themselves to speak for themselves and to collectively decide the conditions upon which they work,� Bruno said, adding that he believes that as more Starbucks stores win their respective elections, other industries will be inspired to organize as well.

68 percent of Americans approve of labor unions — the highest rate since 71 percent in 1965, according to Gallup poll

Bruno said that now, the political climate is very friendly to labor movements, with President Joe Biden expressing his support for unions in recent months. Biden promised to be the “most pro-union president ever� and has been very vocal about his support for the PRO Act, which aims to make the unionization process more accessible and less bureaucratic.

Many Americans share Biden’s support for unions. A Gallup poll conducted last September showed that 68 percent of Americans approve of labor unions — the highest rate since 71 percent in 1965, reported CNBC.

Richard Bensinger, a union organizer with Starbucks Workers United and a former organizing director of the AFL-CIO, tells the cable business news channel that he believes most of the pro-union workers are in their early 20s, prompting him they are part of a “Gen U� for unions.

Gallup data from 2021 also finds that young adults ages 18 to 34 approve of unions at 77 percent.

With that being said, Bruno acknowledged that Starbucks would probably continue to crack down on its employees in the coming months.

“I think they’ll continue to fire workers; I think they’ll continue to try to intimidate workers,” he said. “That’s an unfortunate tool that employers use.

Despite all these challenges, Vargas-Soto still believes he made the right choice in pushing for a union at his Starbucks store. He now works at Colectivo and says his experience there is more positive.

Vargas-Soto has reason to be optimistic. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that in 2019, union members earned an average of 19% more than their nonunion counterparts.

“It’s night and day,” he said. “Employees are just a little bit happier,” Vargas-Soto noted that when employees are about to enter a conversation with management that feels punitive, they can discontinue the conversation and resume it later in the presence of a union representative.

“Just because we lost the election out of my (Starbucks) store doesn’t mean the fight’s over,” he said. “We’re not doing it simply because it’s a part of the moment. It’s what’s right. And when you’re doing what’s right, it doesn’t matter how long it takes.”

Raphael Hipos is a graduate student at Northwestern University with more than 2 years of experience in the media industry.

Hipos has worked with various organizations including ABS-CBN and CNN Philippines. He is skilled in the various aspects of television news production, which he studied extensively during his undergraduate education at the University of the Philippines.

You can follow him Twitter and on LinkedIn.

Publisher’s Note: Illinois Latino News (ILLN) collaborates with Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in providing students with mentoring and real work experiences. As such, ILLN is part of the professional partnerships within the Social Justice Specialization and part of Medill’s Metro Media Lab.

Cover Photo by Mason McCall:

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ILLN Opinion+: Oscar Sanchez

Welcome to another episode of Illinois Latino News Opinion+, where we talk about major issues the Latinx and other underrepresented communities face in the state.

This week we spoke with Oscar Sanchez, a local activist and the Community Planning Manager of the Southeast Environmental Task Force.

Sanchez said that recognizing his privilege motivated him to become active in his community. He is the son of immigrants and was raised on the Southeast Side of Chicago. He saw the advantages that he had over other members of his family, including being documented and being lighter complected.

His activism work started with advocating for undocumented people, but he says he has since taken a step back from this work and now acts as an ally in order to allow more space for people within the community.

“I’ve learned that the way you uplift voices of undocumented individuals is by allowing them to know that they themselves can be their own voices, they don’t need anyone else,â€� he said. 

Much of his work focuses on environmental racism, defined as a form of systemic racism in which laws or policies place the burden of environmental hazards in areas that directly impact people of color.

Sanchez said that the most polluted areas of the city overlap with areas where people experience the most respiratory issues, most often in Black and Brown neighborhoods. He called it a byproduct of segregation and housing policies formed in the 1930’s.

In order to proactively address and take action against these issues, Sanchez stressed the importance of recognizing the intersectionality between environmental issues and other major issues marginalized communities face, including labor rights and abortion rights, because there is a deep history of people’s concerns being neglected.

“For many years we’ve been silenced, or it hasn’t even been considered something to be ‘serious’ or of a priority.� He continued, “Yes it’s complex, but it’s intersectional. That means that if we move one part, it’ll move everything else and that’s why I always talk about [how] we have to do this together.�

The Southeast Side, which runs along the Indiana border, was once a booming industrial area. According to WTTW, the U.S. Steel Industry here once employed 40,000 people but when the industry collapsed during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s mass layoffs caused the economy to shift.

Sanchez was asked why he thought his community was overlooked by the media, politicians and other Chicagoans, in which he clarified that he felt the area was neglected and compared it to “vibrant� neighborhoods like Pilsen, which face gentrification.

“People look to be in a space that’s full of joy. The Southeast Side, we can be very honest- our community members are full of joy and they’re fighting that and looking to build that… but when you come outside our community you see all this scrap metal or you see all the different types of operations here you don’t want to be around that and we don’t either.�

Sanchez has been fighting against environmental racism and injustices in his neighborhood since he was in his early twenties. He participated in a hunger strike to prevent metal scrapper General Iron from moving their operation to the Southeast Side. He also co-founded the Southwest Youth Alliance in 2018 to amplify opportunities for young people in his neighborhood.

“Youth are our living future right now and if we empower them, we give them love and we embrace them, they’re the ones that are going to create the future you need,� said Sanchez.


Southeast Environmental Task Force:
WTTW’s report on the Southeast Side:

Hunger strike against General Iron:

Southeast Youth Alliance on IG: @southeastyouthalliance

Free water quality test kits:

List of community resources:

Housing resources guide

Twitter and IG handles: oso_campeon 

Southeast Environmental Task Force

Twitter: SE_TaskForce

IG: se_taskforce

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Rocha Selected as Center for Health Journalism 2022 National Fellow 

The USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism announced this month it had selected 26 journalists to participate in its 2022 National Fellowship to investigate and explore challenges impacting child, youth and family health and well-being in the United States. Annabel Rocha, Editor for Latino News Network – Midwest and Writer for Illinois Latino News (ILLN) is among them.

The competitive program includes a five-day training that provides insights into how health and child, youth and family well-being is shaped by community conditions, systemic racism and opportunity. Through reporting stipends and months of expert mentoring, the Center for Health Journalism supports Fellows as they produce investigative and explanatory projects on challenges impacting child, youth and family wellness. 

For her project, Rocha will be exploring Period Poverty. Period Poverty or Menstrual Poverty is defined as the lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, and/or waste management. This social problem primarily affects houseless people, low-income people, and Black and Brown communities.  Two-thirds of low-income women in the U.S.could not afford period products, according to a 209 survey of low-income women in a large U.S. city.

“I thank the CHJ and ILLN for supporting my vision on this project because I know discussions like this can make people uncomfortable,â€� said Rocha. “That’s exactly why this topic needs to be covered.â€�

“As the Center’s director, I’m proud to welcome this group of reporters to Los Angeles and look forward to partnering with them in the months to come as they produce powerful stories on health equity and systemic disparities, reporting that will have an impact in their communities,� said Michelle Levander, editor and founding director, Center for Health Journalism.

“In an era of pervasive misinformation, trusted reporters rooted in the communities they cover and laser-focused on telling stories about health inequities are more critical than ever,� said Monica Beltran, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We need a strong ecosystem of journalists who represent the communities they report on to uncover health disparities, explore why they exist and shed light on solutions,� she added.

The 2022 National Fellowship is generously funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The National Fellowship also receives support from The California Endowment and the Internet Brands/WebMD Impact Fund, an initiative of the Social Impact Fund.

A native Chicagoan, Rocha joined Illinois Latino News as its first writer/reporter when it launched last October. She was named Editor last month. Rocha has helped lead the Democracy SOS and Advancing Democracy, solutions journalism initiatives for LNN, thanks to grants by the Solutions Journalism Network and Hearken.

“Grants like the Center for Health Journalism, provides dedicated journalists like Annabel, and independent newsrooms like LNN, the resources necessary to produce authentic stories that resonate with communities often invisible in the coverage of mainstream media,� said Hugo Balta, Owner and Publisher of LNN.

“I am so happy to have this opportunity, not only for myself and my career, but for the stories that will be told through this reporting,� said Rocha of being included as a CHJ Fellow. “People of color are most directly impacted by period poverty but their voices are heard the least. The goal is to reclaim the narrative and uplift Latinx voices as we normalize menstruation and menstrual poverty together.�

Publisher’s Notes: This story is in part an aggregate from Center for Health Journalism announces 2022 National Fellows.

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National Teacher Shortage Highlights Need for Bilingual Teachers and Dual Literacy in Illinois Classrooms

In the midst of a nationwide teacher shortage plaguing the country, studies show that the need for educators in Illinois is worse than ever. For English Learners (ELs) the stakes are especially high as these students deal with a language barrier in which their parents may not be able to assist with and a shortage of adults qualified to teach them.

“Because this is one of the fastest growing groups of children in the state, if Illinois is going to be successful, we need this group of children to be successful,� said Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro, Director of Education Policy and Research at Latino Policy Forum.

The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that in 2021 there were 2,040 open positions in Illinois school districts alone. The need for bilingual teachers is especially highlighted as the number of ELs in Illinois grows and the demand for educators certified to teach them continues to not be met.

In March 2022 the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced a $4 million grant intended to aid current teachers in receiving the credentials required to teach bilingual classrooms in Illinois. The funding is allocated from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief federal pandemic money.

The ISBE press release states that in October 2021 there were 98 vacancies for bilingual classroom teachers throughout Illinois.

Certain credentials are required to teach English Learners. Many of these bilingual teachers work with an Educator License with Stipulations with a Transitional Bilingual Education endorsement (ELS-TBE), which is provisional. The ELS-TBE is valid for five years, but non-renewable. In order to continue teaching, teachers must receive a Professional Educator License (PEL).

The grant can be used by those ELS-TBE holding educators who would like to pursue the Professional Educator License, as well as by teachers who already earned a PEL but are seeking an English as a Second Language (ESL) or Bilingual endorsement. The intention is to fund the bilingual teacher pipeline by ensuring teachers can remain eligible for these positions after the five year period, and by encouraging fully licensed teachers to take on the additional language licensure. 

This grant is a huge win for the Latino Policy Forum, a statewide advocacy organization that encourages and fosters Latino voice and representation. Their education department has long been advocating to ISBE for this allocation of funds towards bilingual teachers.

“Everyone has known that the bilingual teacher shortage is one of the most severe of all the teacher shortages and so I think the administration was really open to ideas,� said Vonderlack-Navarro.

The 2019-2020 school year numbers reported by ISBE show that there were 261,454 EL students enrolled in Illinois, with 594 school districts implementing some form of Transitional Bilingual Education program (TBE). 72 percent of these students speak Spanish and 74 percent of them are Hispanic or Latino.

“It is my passion that we no longer view these kids through a deficit lens, but we see that language and culture are incredible assets to learning and given this research from the University of Chicago, when these kids are supported over the long-term with specialized teachers who know how to meet their needs, they will do well. They should be celebrated, instead of seen as a burden,� she said.

The way that these students are served can look differently depending on the type of program implemented in a school.

Vonderlack-Navarro feels that one of the most effective ways to cater to EL students is through the dual language model in which students receive core instruction in both English and Spanish. 

“I think it’s critical because research shows that English Learners’ services work if a teacher is skilled with knowledge on how to build the home language while also building English, children over the long term will be more successful,â€� she said. 

Although dual language makes up less than 14 percent of EL instructional design in the state, many educators vouch for the effectiveness of this method for their students as it builds biliteracy, rather than focusing solely on encouraging English skills. In the Elgin area U-46 District, only the dual language model is implemented across 32 of their schools.  

Griselda Pirtle, the Director of English Language Learners at School District U-46 said, “We choose the dual language model because research suggests that that is the best model that serves our students. Especially our current student population, where 90 percent of our English Language Learners are actually born here in the United States. So they’re coming up from birth in bilingual environments and so dual language programs allow the students to access all of the languages that they have.â€� 

“If we put them in English only environments or English only classrooms, it’s like we’re tying one hand behind their back. We’re not allowing them to access both of the languages that they have, and really that’s the beauty of dual language models, is that not only are you teaching both, but you’re also maintaining both languages. And again, that then requires a need for highly-qualified bilingual teachers,� she continued.

Only 28 percent of ELs in Illinois are enrolled in Chicago Public Schools, with 26 percent enrolled in Cook County, outside of CPS, and 33 percent in DuPage, Kane, Will and Lake counties. With this breakdown, Vonderlack-Navarro says that bilingual teachers are particularly needed in the suburbs.

“I think what you have in rural areas is there’s just a general teacher shortage and say you’re in a pocket, that maybe doesn’t look like a high number of ESLs, but there’s a decent concentration. There are certain areas that might have a meat packing plant or for various reasons, certain industries, they’ll have a population of ELs and no one will have the grounding to serve them at all in the district,â€� Vonderlack-Navarro said.

School districts across the country have gotten creative in their attempts to fill vacant bilingual teacher positions. In Connecticut, Hartford Public Schools started The Paso a Paso Puerto Rico Recruitment Program which relocates Spanish-speaking educators directly from Puerto Rico into full-time roles at their schools. In Georgia, Gwinnett County Public Schools offered a $4,000 bonus incentive to educators new to their district who either already held or could gain certification in Spanish, French, Korean, Vietnamese or Mandarin Chinese.

Pirtle says that the market for bilingual teachers is extremely competitive because the role is in such high demand.

“I think sometimes it’s not understood all the work that goes into recruiting and retaining dual language teachers. It is very difficult, again, because they can write their ticket,� she said.

In addition to recruiting bilingual teachers, districts have also found it challenging to retain them. Some often overlooked aspects of the role are the expectation to translate information to parents, or between parents and non-Spanish speaking administrators, as well as creating coursework that may not be readily available in all programs. It is additional work that they are not compensated for.

A small 2019 study by Cathy Amanti of Georgia State University found that bilingual teachers were not given the materials needed to teach in the other language, and would use personal time to translate the material provided in English, or create original material. Two of the six teachers included in the study left once the school year ended, with one leaving teaching altogether and the other leaving to a school that did not offer a dual language program.

“I wish I could tell teachers the grass isn’t always greener, because the reality is no matter what district you’re in, it is a tough job being a dual language teacher… It’s still up-and-coming, the field is still evolving and growing and you’re constantly learning new things, new strategies, etcetera,� Pirtle said. “So I think sometimes because that could become so much, dual teachers are like oh maybe in that district it’s better, or maybe in that district it’ll be easier or they have more this or they have more that and I’m just like no.�

She also says that it can be hard to keep an updated number of how many teachers are needed, or will be needed for the upcoming school year, because it is a moving target with aspects like retirement, maternity leave and resignation factoring into job vacancies.

While the battle towards employing and retaining more bilingual teachers in Illinois continues, at U-46 there is generally a positive outlook on the future of this issue.

“We’re very proud of the dual language program here at U-46 and it’s a great opportunity for our students and so we just need to find those teachers. There’s a shortage now, so on top of everything these types of things, programs and grants, can help us,� said Mireya Perez, Director of Human Resources at U-46.

Pirtle agrees, saying “I truly believe we are gonna see the day where hopefully, through having dual language programs, essentially we’re growing these bilingual students to potentially, hopefully, be teachers one day, or social workers that serve in our school.�

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Illinois Latino News Ranked One of the Best Latina Blogs and Websites

In less than a year since it launched, Illinois Latino News has gained recognition in the Hispanic-Latino market, being named one of the “90 Best Latina Blogs and Websites� by Feedspot. According to Feedspot, this list was specifically ranked by “traffic, social media followers, domain authority and freshness.�

As Latino News Network’s (LNN) youngest market, ILLN has strived to bring greater visibility to Latinos in Illinois by producing stories that highlight their voices, such as a young Latina entrepreneur’s role in constructing mega-development Lincoln Yards and the suggested implementation of Hispanic-Latino culture in treating mental health concerns, to name a few. 

ILLN debuted in October 2021, becoming LNN’s first outlet outside of New England and spearheading the organization’s venture into the Midwest.

“Our newsroom is thrilled to be included in Feedspot’s “90 Bestâ€� list,â€� said Hugo Balta, Owner and Publisher of the Latino News Network. “For Illinois Latino News to be among the three recognized, having only launched last October, speaks to the dedication and quality of work by our team.â€� 

ILLN joins New Hampshire Latino News (NHLN) and the LNN landing page to be named 60, 65, and 81 respectively on the list. They were included among other influential websites and blogs in the Hispanic-Latino market, including Remezcla, HuffPost Latino Voices, The National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Latino Rebels. 

Feedspot ranks blogs, podcasts and influencers into different niche categories to provide users with a convenient method of staying up-to-date with all of their favorite media in one place. The site utilizes a combination of algorithm and human input to curate the lists, sorting through millions of blogs on the internet to select the most influential across 5,000 categories and industries.

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Puerto Rican Festival Returns In Person, Celebrates Richness of Culture

The annual Puerto Rican Fest returned richer than ever to Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood with celebratory piña coladas, bomba dancing, alcapurrias and everything red, white and blue. Although violence occurred at last year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, this year’s attendees enjoyed a vibrant and peaceful weekend.

The festival was held Thursday June 9 through Sunday June 12, celebrating Puerto Rican culture and pride in person, without restrictions, after two years of the ongoing pandemic. Puerto Rican Festival committee members said that this year’s ticket prices increased due to budget concerns, costing visitors $10 to enter the festival. In 2018 ticket prices were $2 and in 2019 they were $5 according to a 2021 Paseo Podcast episode, which featured members of the Puerto Rican Festival committee.

Erica Perez owner of Nola Taino shows off her bomba inspired painted woodcuts.

Puerto Rican artist, owner of Nola Taíno and DePaul alumna Erica Perez was excited to finally be back and share her culture through her art. She said a lot of her inspiration comes from her Taíno roots— the indigenous people of the Caribbean and Florida who danced bomba. 

“Dance and music is what inspires most of my stuff and that’s where I want to continue to lead, â€� Perez said. 

Her artwork is mostly crafted from reclaimed wood, ranging from wine caddies, earrings, painting cut outs and even propagation tubes made from leftover benches. 

The festival is a way for Perez and many other Puerto Ricans to embrace their roots even though they live away from the island.

“I connect a lot to the island every time I go there,� Perez said. “I cry when I leave.�

Despite the distance, solidarity with the island was visible across the park as many wore a black and white version of the Puerto Rican flag, including Perez.

A festival visitor holds up the Puerto Rican resistance flag.

This flag is known as the resistance flag and was a response to the Obama administration passing the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) in 2016, which gave the United States financial control over Puerto Rico according to USA Today. Critics such as Bernie Sanders viewed this decision as an act of colonialism because PROMESA’s board was composed of people who did not live nor were elected in Puerto Rico. 

The flag is now often used as a symbol of resistance and grief according to USA Today.

“The black Puerto Rican flag is a representation of resistance of the political people on the island,â€� Perez said. “It unites us here you know, we’re so far away and so I feel like anytime I see someone wearing it here, like no, I’m with my people.â€� 

Angelica Torres chopped up bits of ice and pieces of pineapple in a blender to serve guests fresh piña colada drinks. For her the festival is a way to not only celebrate her culture but also earn some money. 

Torres has been coming to the festival for around eight years now and after not attending for two years, she said being back felt “amazing.�

While she multitasked between taking orders and making drinks, Torres reflected on her Puerto Rican heritage. 

“We have a great culture, great food, great drinks, and an amazing island,� she said.

The festival encapsulated more than art and delicious drinks; it was also a place where medical clinics like CALOR could educate the Humboldt Park community about STIs. CALOR provided free HIV testing at the festival. 

CALOR program manager Alfredo Flores said it felt appropriate to attend the festival because organizations like CALOR are not typically present at events like these. 

“It’s a way to access individuals,â€� Flores said. “It’s really important to also help educate individuals at festivals who might not know their status and want to know about HIV.â€�  

Flores said they were able to test over 300 people during the festival’s four day celebrations. This was a “big firstâ€� according to Flores because of the high stigma around HIV. 

For CALOR, part of destigmatizing HIV in the Latinx community is creating a welcoming environment. Their tent was surrounded by pride flags and representatives dancing to reggaeton music. 

Flores said that people often approach the CALOR tent quietly, but once they enter their space and see them dancing, “they’re like, ‘oh my god,’ that’s my people.� 

Festival attendees like Noelani Sanchez said she felt safe at this year’s event despite the neighborhood’s struggle with gun violence in previous years. There were nine homicides and 29 shootings in the 26th Ward in August 2021 according to Block Club’s analysis on Chicago Police Department data.

“I personally have never felt unsafe,� Sanchez said. “I always feel pretty secure, everyone is friendly and just happy to be there. I haven’t had a bad experience myself.�

Previous festival attendees expressed concerns about the rise in ticket prices.

In a 2021 Paseo Podcast episode, Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Festival Carlos Jiménes Flores said that the reason for the ticket price uptick was due to budget issues.

“The problem is we have no budget.� Flores said in 2021. “We have no budget, we have no home.�

Flores said that he and the other committee members have a lot of ideas they wish to implement but they struggle to do so because of lack of money. 

“I know that people are gonna feel some type of way with us charging at the gate, but there is no other way to raise money for next year,â€� Flores said in 2021. 

Flores explained that the ticket funds collected at the door will be reinvested into the Humboldt Park community. 

“The money that we get not only are web generating resources and connecting the community with so many different outlets for positivity so we can impact the negativity that’s going on in our neighborhoods,â€� Flores said in 2021. “That’s the only way to battle the violence and the poverty and the lack of education.â€� 

The Agenda of Chicago and the Puerto Rican Festival of Chicago did not respond to comments about safety and ticket prices in time for publication. 

Hundreds of people attended the festival over the weekend. Although the festival was open to everyone, Puerto Rican traditions were at the center. People were able to learn about the culture up close through the fresh food, live music and authentic vendors. 

Perez said that they hope attendees leave the festival with a newfound appreciation for Puerto Rico. 

“I hope that they’re inspired to try new things and go different ways and also respect their culture as well,â€� Perez said. 


Publisher’s Note: You can read The DePaulia’s version of Puerto Rican Festival returns in person, celebrates richness of culture here.

Illinois Latino News (ILLN) and La DePaulia are partners in best serving the Hispanic-Latino community.

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A Familismo Approach To Latino College Enrollment

The College of Lake County (CLC), a community college in Illinois, recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution, adopted a cultural response to recruit and retain Latino students in tackling the student deficit it experienced during the pandemic.

According to its official enrollment numbers, the response saw a 27 percent increase in Latino student enrollment for the Fall 2021 semester (36 percent of all students were Latinx, per CLC). According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, this was a welcomed change since Latino undergraduate enrollment in colleges nationwide declined by seven percent between 2019-2021.

The college’s multipronged cultural response included hiring bilingual therapists that offer counseling in English and Spanish to Spanish-speaking and international students and a Latino student outreach coordinator to be part of its student inclusion and activities office. CLC also hired a new team of college and career navigators that were embedded in high schools feeding into its community college district to encourage Latino students to enroll in college after graduation, according to Erin Fowles, the college’s director of enrollment. 

Like CLC, City Colleges of Chicago, a system of 7 community colleges and 5 satellite sites in the Chicago area, undertook concerted efforts to meet the cultural needs of the 17,912 Latino credit-earning students across its campuses in order to encourage retention and recruitment. Some of the measures CCC adopted included celebrating Latino cultural events, such as  “Hispanic Heritage Month,â€� and other culturally significant days such as Hispanic/Latino Flag Day, Fiesta del Barrio, and Fiesta del Sol, according to Veronica Resa, the college’s director of media relations.

“I think a cultural approach to the Latino community is [needed], that there’s a sort of what we call familismo or… a feeling of a sense of community that we as a whole, are really invested in higher education and progressing our community forward for the sake of our country,â€� said Emily Labandera, director of research at Excelencia in Education, a DC-based nonprofit, aimed at accelerating Latino students’ success in higher education.

Latino College Completion – Illinois

The sentiment of recognizing the cultural needs of Latino students is echoed by student Sergio Blacutt, who was enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College as a political science major when the pandemic struck, leading him to decide to drop out.

Blacutt had struggled with the transition to remote learning and was afraid his declining grades would lead him to lose his financial aid. So he decided it was best to take a break from college and focus on getting a job while tending to his family.

“My parents were running low on money because they weren’t getting as many hours,” Blacutt said. “There was only one person in my house that was really getting hours, [my dad] because my dad would work overnight.”

Along with the financial responsibilities of his household, Blacutt also took on parenting duties.

“I had to take care of my sister, who at that moment wasn’t working. She was just graduating high school,” he said.  

According to Andrea Flores, Assistant Professor of Education at Brown University, “For many [Latino] families, it was a decision between meeting those basic human needs and trying to get ahead. Unfortunately, there weren’t that many safety nets initially for folks to be able to balance both [jobs and a college education].”

The situation gets even more complicated for families of front-line and essential workers and undocumented families.

“I think that families, particularly low-income families and immigrant families, have had to deal with the consequences of the shutdowns in a different way because their jobs tend to be more of many working-class migrants, like restaurant workers or first-line workers,â€� Flores said. 

“Obviously, this is more challenging for undocumented populations who weren’t eligible for pandemic relief,” she added about the challenges immigrant families face. “So for undocumented students in college, the situation became even more dire.”Pre-pandemic, Latino student populations in higher educational institutions were growing at an accelerated rate, according to Labandera, before it fell sharply. In community colleges, where a large population of students identify as Latino, there was a nearly 28% decline in Latino student enrollment in Fall 2020, according to the NSCRC.

“So about six months into the pandemic, we saw a significant drop in that enrollment and when we look at projected data over this next decade, that enrollment is projected to increase but not at that significant sort of accelerated rate that we were seeing,� she said.

“I remember being depressed, just stuck in here [at home], not moving, especially since every day, I was going out when I was going to college.�

Sergio Blacutt, was enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College

In improving enrollment, the cultural approach provides psychological resources to students, since the issues caused by the pandemic compounded to affect students’ mental wellness. 

“Mental health is a real thing as well….being locked up for a certain time, you can get depressed,� Blacutt said. “I remember being depressed, just stuck in here [at home], not moving, especially since every day, I was going out when I was going to college.�

In many Latino households, students live with multiple generations of their family or share accommodation with other families, making it more challenging to focus on remote classes, Flores said.

According to its Dean of Student Life, Gabriel Lara, the College of Lake County was helped by its bilingual therapist service in fostering a sense of community among its Latino students. 

The college’s Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS) provides “culturally responsive clinical services to CLC students,� and its director, Arellys Aguinaga, is Latina. The bilingual therapists provide counseling in both English and Spanish, Lara said.

Lara added that cultural representation through staff is how colleges have sought to meet their students’ cultural needs. Hence, an increasingly growing demand; for example, at CLC, Latino students make up around 42 percent of the total student demographic seeking counseling.

“So by having these resources not only in their native language but also culturally, it creates that opportunity for students who want to be here,� Lara said.

City Colleges of Chicago also undertook concerted efforts to take care of Latino students’ mental health, according to Veronica Resa, its director of media relations. “City Colleges of Chicago ensures students are connected to its Wellness Centers for social and emotional support,� she said.

Looking at Latino students as more than a monolith is key to a thriving cultural response.

“I think at the higher ed level; it’s going to require universities and colleges to really work with students to manage what needs they might have as a family,  and understand that a student is not just a student, and isn’t just one type of person, that they have many, many other roles,” Flores said.

Adopting a holistic approach toward students is one of the themes Labandera said her nonprofit found in the institutions it recognized with its seal of Excelencia for having successful Latino student-centered programs. In its 2021 “What Works For Latino Students Compendium,� the nonprofit identified some common elements in its examples of Excelencia, such as the importance of building comunidad (community) and using an asset-based approach that celebrates students’ unique strengths and contributions.

This importance of building community is recognized by City Colleges of Chicago, through its encouragement of Latino student organizations across its campuses, such as the Latin American Student Organization and Organization of Latinx American Students (OLAS), according to Resa. CCC documents its student success stories on its website as well as through newsletters and its social media platforms.

“Because education transforms lives, City Colleges of Chicago has a vital role to play in supporting Latinx students, all students, and their communities, so we can help build a stronger and more just city,” said Juan Salgado, Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago. “Racial and ethnic inequities remain pervasive and have to be dismantled if we are to succeed.â€�              

For example, Howard Community College in Columbia, MD, through its Ambiciones initiative used intensive academic advising, financial aid, and culturally relevant programs such as hosting its on-campus senior family night in Spanish, to engage Latino students. This, according to Excelencia in Education’s website, led to a 91 percent retention rate among first-time/full-time participants of the program compared to 67 percent of non-participants, and a 50 percent retention rate among part-time student participants compared to 45 percent of non-participants, In Spring 2020, 90 percent of the program participants achieved good academic standing as opposed to 81 percent of non-participants.

While a cultural approach is necessary to recognize Latino students’ familial and community needs, there are other limitations they face along with other low-income student populations, such as financial concerns, technological barriers, and the need for balance between their work and academic schedule that will need to be addressed through different approaches.

Meeting Latino student needs through various responses such as providing financial aid, allowing for a more flexible academic schedule, and providing technological support such as ensuring a steady WIFI connection, is necessary to counteract the college dropout rate among Latino students, which ends up hurting their future prospects in the long-run.

A report by UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative showed a disproportionate impact on Latino students and students of color when they delayed college plans, as they faced more challenges when it came to re-entry, as well as “durable negative effects on salary and expected earnings after graduation.�

In Blacutt’s case, his dropping out gave him a new direction, as he decided to pursue a career in hospitality and currently works as a sales coordinator at Island Hospitality. He plans to return to school at some point to get his associate’s degree, especially as his parents encourage him to do so.

 “I was only one semester away from getting my associates and I feel like sometimes my parents are right, maybe I should really pursue my associates because having a degree is better than having no degree,� he said.

Apps Mandar Bichu is a graduate student journalist pursuing a Masters of Science in Journalism at Northwestern University.

She is currently interning at The Chicago Reporter and Illinois Latino News (ILLN).

She specializes in multimedia journalism and is passionate about social justice reporting, travel journalism, and all forms of content creation.

You can follow her on Twitter at @ApoorvaaBichu and on LinkedIn: Apoorvaa “Appsâ€� Bichu, or check out her website to learn more about her work:

Publisher’s Notes: ILLN is collaborating with Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in providing students with mentoring and real work experiences. As such ILLN is part of the professional partnerships within the Social Justice Specialization and as part of Medill’s Metro Media Lab.

Cover Photo by Abby Chung:

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Latinx Talks Highlights Latinas Running in Primary Election

The National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) reports that Latinos make up less than 2 percent of all elected officials in the country. This number is dramatically low considering that 18.1 percent of the U.S. population identify as Latino.

With 17.5 percent of the total population in Illinois identifying as Hispanic or Latino, the national statistics are not proportionate to the people living in the state.

WATCH: Latinx Talks: Our Future in Focus – Your Vote is Your Power

In preparation for the upcoming Illinois Primary Election, this month’s Latinx Talks intended to promote diversity in politics by focusing on some of the Latinas on the ballot advocating for change to the system.

Hugo Balta, Publisher of Illinois Latino News (ILLN), moderated the panel which consisted of Iris Y. Martinez, candidate for Democratic State Central Committeewoman for the Third District, and candidates for Cook County Commissioner Natalie Toro and Leticia Garcia. Former candidate for Cook County Sheriff Carmen Navarro-Gercone also participated in the discussion.

Navarro-Gercone was recently removed from the ballot due to the SAFE-T Act, a new Illinois law that requires sherrifs to be a certified law enforcement officer or receive the equivalent training from another state or federal agency.

The virtual town hall was streamed on Facebook Live, providing each speaker with the opportunity to discuss the issues most important to them and explain why they were the best candidate for the positions they’re running for.

The panelists all shared their thoughts on why it is important to elect more Latinas into political positions, especially at the local level.

“Now more than ever we need to make sure that we’re elevating female voices and electing women into all levels of government,” said Toro, who also explained her stance on supporting women’s rights and being “unconditionally pro-choice.”

Martinez spoke on her experience navigating Illinois politics as a Latina. Martinez broke barriers in 2003 when she became the first Latina elected into the Illinois State Senate and again in 2020 by being elected the first Latina Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

“We are the change that the state of Illinois, the county, the city, needs,” she said. 

NALEO projects that 353,500 Latinos will vote in Illinois in the 2022 election. The Illinois Primary Election takes place on June 28 and Early Voting is currently underway.


Cover photo by fauxels for Pexels

Latinx Talks is a monthly program produced by Imagen Marketing Consultants. The new Latino speakers series aims to bring to the forefront the inequities facing the Hispanic-Latino community. 

In partnership with Latinx Talks, ILLN provided live Twitter coverage of the event.

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Be Informed for the Upcoming Judicial Primary Elections

On June 28, 2022, the State of Illinois will be holding primary elections. Primaries are elections that political parties use to select candidates for a general election. Then each party’s candidates run against each other in that general election. Our general election in Illinois will be held on November 8, 2022. 

Most voters are familiar with some of the positions on the ballots such as governor, senators, attorney general and secretary of state. But some of the most important candidates in our elections are the local judges who are running for office.  Judges hold important and powerful roles in our society.  They have the power to put people in jail in a criminal case, they preside over divorces, evictions, a wide range of civil cases and even traffic tickets.  This year, 75 candidates are running for a total of 29 judicial vacancies throughout Cook County alone.  There are also subcircuit races and an appellate court race this year.

Diversifying the Judiciary

Many voters admit that they have no idea who any of the judges are on the ballot, yet we are all likely to be affected by the judicial system at some point in our lives, whether you will go through a divorce, criminal case, or a probate dispute. Moreover, and especially across Cook County, the courts do not reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. With a population of approximately 5 million people, Cook County is the most populous county in Illinois, only second in size to Los Angeles county in California.  According to a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning report from August 2021, Hispanic or Latinos make up a little over 25 percent of the county, followed closely by the Black community at 23 percent.  The white population stands at about 42 percent in Cook County.

Yet as of 2018, only 7.5 percent of judges in Cook County associated as Hispanic and though Blacks fared better with 19 percent representation in the judiciary, the numbers are still low.  As expected, at 70 percent the overwhelming majority of Cook County judges are white. Why do these numbers matter? Studies show that the more diverse the judiciary the likelihood of an increase in the fairness of outcomes.  This is important in a criminal justice system like Cook County’s where defendants are disproportionately Latino and Black. 

Do your research

So how do you choose who to vote for? Popular ideas include voting for all the women on the ballot, voting for all the Italian last names, voting for all the Latino last names, not voting for someone with the same last name as your mean fourth grade teacher, or voting for all the funny names! Unfortunately, this isn’t the best way to pick a judge. Instead, the Alliance of Bar Associations (different groups of lawyers in Illinois) have devised a great way to inform the voters on a candidate’s qualifications.  Some of the bar associations that participate in this process are the Asian American Bar Association, the Black Women Lawyer’s Association, the Hispanic Lawyer’s Association of Illinois, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago and the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois.  

Judicial candidates and judges who are up for retention can participate in a forum where they are interviewed by the bar association representatives and submit a long application for the screening process.  The Alliance of Bar Associations then rate the judges based on their interview, an investigation report conducted by an anonymous association member, and overall qualifications.  The rating system is based on the assessment of a candidates’ qualifications which include their legal knowledge and ability, sensitivity to diversity and bias, character, impartiality and integrity, judicial temperament, diligence and punctuality and health and age. 

By relying on seasoned attorneys and finding a bar association whose members hold the same values as you, you can make an informed decision on election day. You can go to: to review the bar association’s findings and then make your final decision for election. Don’t worry, you can bring your own cheat sheets to the booth on election day to help. Just don’t forget to vote in the primaries on June 28.


Cover photo by Element5 Digital for Unsplash

Claudia Farfan Badillo is an attorney concentrating in consumer bankruptcy and is the owner of her own firm: Badillo Law Group, P.C.  She was born and raised in Chicago, is of Mexican and Colombian descent and is a native Spanish speaker. 

She has been an attorney for over 14 years and is a graduate of Chicago Kent College of Law where she clerked for the Cook County Public Defender’s office in the Felony Trial Unit.

Publisher’s Notes: “Be informed for the upcoming judicial primary elections!� was first published in The Chicago Reporter.

ILLatinoNews partners with The Chicago Reporter in best serving the Hispanic-Latino communities of Illinois.

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