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Archive for February, 2010

MADIGAN: MORTGAGE COMPLAINTS INCREASE 65 PERCENT

Posted by Admin On February - 22 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Attorney General’s Top 10 List Dominated By Mortgages, Consumer Debt in 2009  

 

Chicago —The intensifying home foreclosure crisis dominated Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Top 10 Consumer Complaints for 2009. Madigan reported that 31,264 consumers filed complaints with her Consumer Protection Division last year. The consumer debt category topped the complaints filed by Illinois consumers, including a 65 percent increase in residential mortgage-related complaints. In addition, an estimated 21,000 consumers have called the Attorney General’s Homeowner Helpline for assistance since 2008, while the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Bureau helped secure an estimated $23 million in mortgage-related savings, including loan modifications for at-risk borrowers, last year.

“These numbers demonstrate how this economic crisis is hitting home for tens of thousands of Illinois families,” Madigan said. “Hardworking people are struggling to make their mortgage payments on time. They’re fighting to cope with mounting debts, and they’re being targeted by con artists looking to make a quick buck. This is a challenging time, and I urge anyone who is struggling to make ends meet to contact my office to make sure that they do not become victims of fraud.”

Consumer Debt Complaints Rank First

Since 2008, complaints to Madigan’s office about consumer debt grew nearly 16.5 percent, a reflection of the increasingly dire financial constraints people in Illinois are experiencing during the economic downturn. Complaints in this top category cover a wide range of consumer debt issues, such as residential mortgages, credit card debt, and installment loan debt. Specifically, the highest reported debt-related complaints involved:

Mortgage Foreclosure

In 2009, nearly 4,000 homeowners filed residential mortgage complaints with Madigan’s office, a 65 percent increase over the previous year. In addition to the significant increase, the types of complaints reported are also transforming. In the first wave of the foreclosure, a majority of complaints reported to the Attorney General’s office came from homeowners who were placed in risky home loans that they could never afford. As the foreclosure crisis continues, Madigan said that around 2008 her office began receiving more calls from homeowners who have lost their jobs and can no longer make their mortgage payments.

Madigan has made helping homeowners stay in their homes a top priority. In October 2008, the Attorney General brokered a ground-breaking $8.7 billion settlement in her predatory lending lawsuit against Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, that established the country’s first mandatory loan modification program. As a result of this settlement and President Obama’s subsequent HAMP program, thousands of Countrywide borrowers in Illinois , and hundreds of thousands nationwide, have been able to modify their loans and remain in their homes. During 2009, Madigan also filed suit against Wells Fargo, alleging the lender engaged in consumer fraud and illegally discriminated against African American and Latino homeowners by selling them high-cost subprime mortgage loans while white borrowers with similar incomes received lower cost loans.

The Attorney General’s office also reported an increase in complaints against mortgage rescue companies that prey on homeowners who are desperate to save their homes. In the most common form of the scam, these so-called foreclosure “rescue” businesses charge homeowners a large up-front “consulting” fee to negotiate a loan modification with the lender.  But after taking the homeowners’ money, these companies actually do little or nothing to save the home, leaving homeowners in an even more difficult situation. Madigan has filed 31 lawsuits targeting mortgage rescue scams.

Madigan established the Homeowner Helpline (1-866-544-7151) in 2008 to provide direct assistance for borrowers who risk losing their homes to foreclosure. Since its inception, the helpline has received more than 21,000 calls from homeowners seeking assistance. The Attorney General’s office also has helped secured more than $21 million in loan modification savings for borrowers who were at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure over the past year. Madigan encouraged consumers who are at risk of falling behind on their mortgage payments to call her office to learn more about homeowners’ rights and the options available to them to try to save their home.

Collection Agencies

In 2009, the consumer debt complaints received by Madigan’s office included more than 1,300 reports about collection agencies, including complaints that agencies started collection efforts without verifying that the consumer actually owed the debt, attempted to collect a debt from the wrong person and used abusive tactics such as making calls to a consumer’s workplace or using threatening language.

 Credit Card Companies

More than 1,000 consumers sought help from Madigan’s office for problems with their credit cards. Increasing numbers of consumers called to complain that their credit card companies added unexpected fees and charges to their monthly statements and suddenly increased the interest rate on their cards. Other consumers complained that the credit card companies suddenly reduced their credit limits. Madigan said that consumers can dispute the changes to their credit agreements directly with the credit card company or call her Consumer Fraud Bureau for assistance in disputing charges.

 Identity Theft Complaints Rank Second

After calls to Madigan’s office about consumer debt, identity theft remained high on the annual list of consumer complaints, coming in at the second most-reported issue. Madigan’s office received 4,376 identity theft-related complaints in 2009. A significant number of the complaints involve:

1.      Credit card complaints (1,279), including reports of the takeover of an existing credit card account by a thief and also instances of a thief opening a new credit card account in the name of an ID theft victim;

2.      Utility company complaints (464), concerning fraudulent wireless or landline phone, Internet, gas, electric and water accounts opened in the ID theft victim’s name; and

3.      Bank fraud complaints (437), including complaints regarding stolen checks, new bank accounts opened in an ID theft victim’s name, and fraudulent withdrawals of money from victims’ bank accounts.

Consumers brought most of these complaints to Madigan’s office by contacting her Identity Theft Hotline (1-866-999-5630).  Trained advocates and attorneys staff the hotline, working with consumers one-on-one to help them take the steps necessary to report the crime to local law enforcement and financial institutions, repair their credit and prevent future problems.

The Top 10 consumer complaints for 2009 are as follows:

CATEGORY # OF COMPLAINTS
1. Consumer Debt (mortgage lending, collections, credit cards) 7,843
2. Identity Theft (fraudulent credit cards and utility accounts, bank fraud) 4,376
3. Construction Home Improvement (remodeling, roofs/gutters) 2,601
4. Telecommunications (wireless service, local phone service, cable/satellite) 2,240
5 Promotions and Schemes (sweepstakes, pyramid, work-at-home schemes) 1,689
6. Motor Vehicles/Used Auto Sales (as-is sales, financing, warranties) 1,372  
7. Mail Order (Internet purchases, catalog ordering, television/radio) 1,364
8. Fraud Against Business (consulting, directories/publications) 1,135  
9. Utilities (natural gas, electric, water/sewer) 843
10. Motor Vehicle/Non-Warranty Repair (collision/body, engines, tune ups) 728

For information on all consumer issues, consumers can visit Madigan’s Web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers or call one of the Consumer Fraud Hotlines or the Identity Theft Hotline at the numbers listed below. 

Chicago Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-386-5438

Springfield Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-0618

Carbondale Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-0607

Spanish Language Hotline: 1-866-310-8398

Identity Theft Hotline: 1-866-999-5630

Homeowner Helpline: 1-866-544-7151

Illinois Attorney General sues Evanston online marketer for credit card cramming

Posted by Admin On February - 18 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Madigan alleges firm fraudulently charged consumers seeking “free trial” offers

Chicago — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against an online marketing firm based in Evanston, Ill., for “cramming” consumers’ credit cards with unauthorized charges for supposedly “free trial” offers for a range of products, including coffee, posters and jewelry.

“We’ve received an extraordinary number of complaints from consumers who believed they were signing up for free items but wound up with unauthorized charges from this company,” Madigan said. “Because of cases like this, it’s important that consumers carefully review their monthly credit card statements to ensure they’re not being unexpectedly billed.”

Madigan’s complaint alleges that defendants Peel, Inc., and its President Brian Dale sell products online at dozens of Web sites, including seattlecoffeedirect.com, metroroasters.com, posterpass.com and shopdani.com. The company markets its products using “free trial” offers and requires consumers to provide their billing information purportedly to cover shipping and handling fees for the supposedly free merchandise. However, within days of signing up for a free trial, consumers begin receiving unauthorized charges ranging from $19.99 to $49.99 on their credit cards.

Further, Madigan’s complaint alleges that if consumers are able to reach Peel’s customer service, the company allegedly promises to stop charging consumers but fails to do so. Consumers continue to receive unauthorized charges on their credit cards. Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau and the Better Business Bureau have received more than 2,300 complaints against Peel and its affiliated Web sites.

Madigan’s suit alleges the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by placing unauthorized charges on consumers’ credit card bills. The suit seeks a permanent injunction barring the defendants from doing business in Illinois, restitution for consumers, civil penalties of $50,000 for violating the Consumer Fraud Act, and an additional $50,000 for each violation committed with the intent to defraud.

Assistant Attorney General Adam Sokol is handling the case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.

To file a complaint with Madigan’s office, consumers can download a consumer complaint form from the Attorney General’s Web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at:

Chicago Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-386-5438
Springfield Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-0618
Carbondale Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-0607
Spanish Language Hotline: 1-866-310-8398

Retired educator to celebrate 110th Birthday

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 18 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

 Ethel B. Darden, a retired educator and believed to be the oldest person in Chicago, will celebrate her 110th birthday with friends and alumni of Howalton School during her Birthday Celebration, Saturday, February 27, 2010, from 2-4 p.m., at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Lake Shore Drive, in Chicago, an assisted living facility where she now resides.

Darden, a native of Dallas, Texas, a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, and one of five charter members of the Dallas Alpha Xi Omega Chapter, will gain a new title on her birthday along with her many other academic and community achievements – that of Super Centenarian (those persons who live 110 years and beyond).

Darden is accustomed to yearly birthday celebrations attended by a large host of friends and alumni. Each year, some of the same familiar faces come to Montgomery Place to celebrate with her. Some 200 people attended her 2008 Birthday Party.

She still gets a kick out of singing one of her favorite songs – “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” However, if you’re in her presence, she wants you to sing along with her. In an interview with copylinemagazine.com, three months after her 109th Birthday Celebration, Darden asked Author Juanita Bratcher to sing along with her. Said Bratcher, “I chimed right in without hesitation. It was a fun moment for both of us, and for those who were looking on.”

Darden earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wiley College. She did graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Hampton Institute, Chicago Art Institute and Roosevelt University.

She is a resident of Hyde Park. President Barack Obama also hails from Hyde Park. According to her caregiver, Darden voted for President Obama in the Primary and General Elections.

Darden attributes her key to longevity to “being loved, being a very careful person and of having many years of prosperity that led to living a good life.”   

Web Site publishes 2010 listing of real business grant opportunities

Posted by Admin On February - 18 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

 The National Institute of Small Business Grants, a leading global resource for business funding, has published their annual 2010 listing of business grant opportunities. The extensive listing is available online at www.BusinessGrants.org, and is free to the public.

Nike, Microsoft, Intuit, Pepsi, MillerCoors, and IBM are just a few of the companies listed who have programs that are designed to give business grants away this year. Organizations include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dayton Foundation, IFA Educational Foundation and the PepsiCo Foundation. Government agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), FTA (Federal Transit Administration), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and more.

A business grant is a unique form of funding whereas cash awards are given to entrepreneurs and business owners when they qualify for the specified guidelines. There is typically no expectation of repayment. Such grants are given away by major corporations for charity and public relations purposes, but are also given away by non-profits and government agencies to help rebuild or strengthen small business communities.

Because the Internet is saturated with so much fraudulent information pertaining to business grants, BusinessGrants.org was launched in 2008 as the official online resource for real and legit funding opportunities. The site reports on all avenues of business funding, and features exclusive and original news, tips, videos, and a daily blog.

The site also has a Twitter account (www.twitter.com/bizgrants) and a YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/businessgrants) to support their social media outreach.

For more details, visit:
www.BusinessGrants.org

Distributed through BlackNews.com

Myth of post-racial America is topic of Leon Forrest Lecture

Posted by Admin On February - 16 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Biracial author Danzy Senna to discuss issues of race, identity and gender

Evanston, IL – (Northwestern University) Best-selling author Danzy Senna will speak on “The Myth of Post-Racial America” when she delivers the 2010 Leon Forrest Lecture Thursday, March 4, at Northwestern University.

Senna — whose works include the novel “Symptomatic” and a memoir titled “Where Did you Sleep Last Night?” — writes often on issues of race, identity and gender. Her free and public lecture will take place at 5:15 p.m. in Room 217 of Fisk Hall, 1845 Sheridan Road, on the University’s Evanston campus.

Senna has written extensively on the experience of being mistaken for white, and how those frequent incidents have exposed her to prejudices and intolerance. “Caucasia,” Senna’s debut novel, chronicles the lives of two biracial sisters growing up in racially charged Boston during the 1970s.

The daughter of a black American writer and poet from the Deep South and a mother whose old-money Southern family once owned slaves, Senna has written books that, according to one review, “illuminate personal revelations that are anything but black and white.”

The annual Forrest Lecture honors Leon Forrest, the acclaimed novelist and scholar who taught at Northwestern for more than two decades. It is sponsored by the department of African American studies in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

For further information, call (847) 491-5122, e-mail s-denose@northwestern.edu or visit wcas.northwestern.edu.

Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School ranks top in nation for number of African American students succeeding on AP Exam

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2010 1 COMMENT

Record number of Illinois students take AP exams                                                                    

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education announced a record number of Illinois students took AP exams in 2009, according to the sixth annual AP Report to the Nation. Illinois ranked in the upper half of the nation in 2009 for the number of high school seniors – 15.9 percent – who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam. In addition, participation among all categories – by gender, ethnicity and economic class – increased in Illinois as the state moves forward with establishing more rigorous college and career-ready standards.

“The gains that Illinois students have made in terms of AP participation and success is another sign of our state’s commitment to providing a rigorous curriculum that prepares students for college and careers,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We expect these gains to continue as we establish internationally-benchmarked learning standards later this year.’’

Illinois ranked 18th in the nation for having the greatest percent of seniors posting a 3 or higher, which studies have shown is predictive of college success and college graduation. The percentage of Illinois students reaching that benchmark has increased since 2004 when 12.6 percent of students scored a 3 or higher. Nearly a quarter of all high school seniors in the Class of 2009  last year had taken at least one AP exam during high school.

Last year, ACT presented The Illinois State Board of Education with its “Systems of Excellence Award’’ in recognition of the state’s requirement that all 11th graders take the exam, increasing the likelihood of success for all students. The State Board continues to build on that legacy through participation with 48 other states and U.S. territories in the Common Core Standards Initiative to develop common internationally benchmarked learning standards based on the best evidence research and academic performance. The Board is expected to vote on adoption of those standards in August.

Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School in Flossmoor, a southern suburb of Chicago, was singled out in the AP Report to the Nation for having the greatest number of African American students from the class of 2009 scoring 3 or higher on the AP Psychology exam. Across the state, increasing numbers of African American and Latino students are participating in AP.

  • In Illinois , Hispanic or Latino high school seniors in 2009 represent 14.5  percent of the AP examinee population, up from 9.9 percent in 2004. The number of Hispanic students from all grade levels taking the test in 2009 grew by 16.1 percent since last year and 11.7 percent of Hispanic students scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam.
  • Nationally, Black or African American high school seniors represent 7.9 percent of the AP examinee population. In Illinois , Black or African American seniors in 2008 represent 11.8 percent of the AP examinee population, up from 6.3 percent in 2004. The percentage of Black students from all grade levels taking the test in 2009 grew by 10.6 percent since last year.
  • American Indian high school seniors represent less than 1 percent of AP test takers but the number of American Indian students from all grade levels taking the test in 2009 grew by 11.6 percent since last year and 12.8 percent more scored a 3 or higher on the exam. 
  • More than 56 percent of students from all grade levels who took the test in 2009 were females, a 9.3 percent increase over the previous year. Females posting a score of 3 or higher grew by 7.9 percent since last year.
  • More low-income students are participating and experiencing success in AP than ever before. Nationally, 18.9 percent of seniors taking the test in 2009 were low-income students, up from 13.7 percent in the class of 2004. In Illinois , 21.8 percent of seniors taking the test in 2009 were low-income students, up from 12.9 percent in the class of 2004.

Other highlights of the sixth annual AP Report to the Nation:

  • Across the state, 15.4 percent of the graduating Class of 2009 took at least one social science AP exam – more than in any other subject area.
  • The most popular AP exam in Illinois for the graduating class of 2009 was U.S. History with 11,707 tests taken compared to Chemistry, with 2,372 tests taken. 
  • Across the country, White students represent 62.1 percent of the public school graduating class of 2009 and 58.1 percent of the AP examinee examination.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin to chair Alexi for Illinois campaign

Posted by Admin On February - 8 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS
 Durbin Cites Giannoulias’ Effort to Save 600 Illinois Jobs; Criticizes Kirk’s Economic Record As “Wrong for Illinois”
 
SPRINGFIELD – At his home in Springfield, United States Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin stood with Alexi Giannoulias and announced that he will serve as a Chair of the Alexi for Illinois campaign and do whatever he can to defeat Congressman Mark Kirk in November.

“The United States Senate needs a strong, fresh voice that will join me in fighting to bring good, new jobs to Illinois,” said Senator Durbin. “Alexi fought for and saved 600 Illinois jobs at the Hartmarx plant. We need that passion and commitment to help move our country and state forward. Mark Kirk will only take us backwards to the failed economic policies that brought us into one of the worst economic recessions since the Great Depression.”

In 2009, Wells Fargo, a bank that received $25 billion of taxpayer’s money, threatened to liquidate Hartmarx, an American bedrock company in Des Plaines, IL that has been making men’s suits since 1911. Giannoulias stood up and told Wells Fargo that if it wanted to continue to do business in Illinois it would have to find a way to keep American jobs in America. As a result, Wells Fargo backed down and found a purchaser that would not liquidate the company – saving 600 jobs.

Today’s announcement kicked off the general election for Giannoulias’ U.S. Senate campaign and highlighted his plan to get Illinois’ economy working again. For more information on Giannoulias’ plan please visit: www.alexiforillinois.com/issues/economy

“I am honored to have Senator Durbin’s support and leadership on my campaign, which is all about creating the new, next-generation jobs of tomorrow right here in Illinois,” said Giannoulias. “Together, over the next nine months we are going to be talking about real solutions that will turn our economy and our state around. There is so much at stake, and Illinois simply can not afford Republican Mark Kirk’s failed record of supporting George Bush‘s reckless budgets and failed economic policies.”

Today’s Quote

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 5 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Sometimes, doing what is convenient at the moment

can end up haunting for a lifetime – Juanita Bratcher 

Sixth Annual Black History Showcase at Pennsylvania Convention Center Celebrates African American achievement

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 4 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

 

The Negro League Players at the Black History Showcase l -r: Mahlon Duckett (2nd Baseman), Harold Gould (Pitcher) and Bill "Ready" Cash (Catcher).

The Negro League Players at the Black History Showcase l -r: Mahlon Duckett (2nd Baseman), Harold Gould (Pitcher) and Bill "Ready" Cash (Catcher).

Real People, Real Artifacts and Real Stories

 
 Philadelphia, PA (BlackNews.com) — Black History Showcase (BHS), the nations premier celebration of African American achievement and history, will take place February 13 and 14, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, 12th and Arch Street.
 
The Black History Showcase was started in 2004 by Executive Producer, Everett Staten, as a way to promote a greater awareness and appreciation of African American history.
 
According to Staten, the need to tell an often forgotten story was his inspiration for creating the Black History Showcase. The history of Black people in America is one of unbelievable resilience and achievement. However, in most instances our contributions are not included in the presentation of history. Our history remains the greatest story never told. The Black History Showcase is committed to use our words, our images and our cherished belongings to remind America about our invaluable contributions to history.
 
What makes the BHS so unique is that most of the exhibits have never been shown in any museums. These privately owned exhibits contain priceless artifacts and rare photographs collected by devoted Black history collectors. Furthermore, the BHS brings history to life with inspirational stories told by our living legends, Bernie Chavis, the first African American to serve as President of the U S Tennis Association, Philadelphia Area (1994), The Tuskegee Airmen, Buffalo Soldiers, and Negro League players. We also have presentations by history reeanactors from the 3rrd Regiment United States Colored Troops and Ned Hector, Revolutionary War hero, added Staten.
 
A new area this year features exhibits that cover the History of Blacks and Sports. Regardless of whether its the Olympics, a professional league or a schoolyard pick-up game, sports has always touched the hearts and lives of people.
 
The exhibits pay tribute to Black athletes who persevered and succeeded in sports where they were systematically excluded. They also show the physical, social, racial and cultural barriers that were shattered through sports and helped to reshape society and to improve race relations. Included in these exhibits is information about: Negro League Baseball, The Colored Hockey League, Black Tennis Pioneers, Wilt Chamberlain, Swimming, Black Women in Sports, Andy Johnson, Horse Racing, Cycling and more.
 
The 2010 schedule of exhibits and activities include:
 
Exhibits
 
Museum of African American Slavery: Lest We Forget Philadelphia, PA
The exhibit features the most extensive collection of slavery artifacts, Jim Crow memorabilia and information ever assembled for public examination free of charge. The collection includes shackles, branding irons, photos, documents and more.
 
Black Inventions Museum – Los Angeles, CA
Pays tribute to the invaluable intellectual contributions African Americans have made to the progress of society.
 
Granville T. Woods: The Black Edison – NY
A tribute to the prolific inventor and electrical genius who patented over 45 electrical and mechanical inventions that was critical to communications and the development of rail transportation.
 
George Washington Carver Washington, DC
A tribute to the man, born into slavery, who went on to become a world renowned agricultural scientist.
 
Buffalo Soldiers Exhibit
An assortment of equipment used by these legendary Black patriots.
 
Negro League Exhibit: The Burnett Collection – Philadelphia, PA
A display of vintage baseball equipment, photos and memorabilia.
 
Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit – Philadelphia Chapter
A photo exhibit about the history making sky warriors.
 
Belmont Mansion Underground Railroad Museum – Philadelphia, PA
Exhibit shows the important role The Mansion played in the abolitionist movement.
 
Quest For Freedom Philadelphia, PA
Information promoting Philadelphias Underground Railroad Story
 
Living Legends
Philadelphia Stars Negro League Players, Tuskegee Airmen, Buffalo Soldiers.

The Black History Showcase also includes a theater area featuring award winning documentary films and lectures given by internationally acclaimed African American history educators.
In addition, the Showcase has a Black History Marketplace where attendees can purchase historical items like posters, stamps, figurines, Obama campaign memorabilia and more.
 
Ahmeenah Young, President and CEO of the Convention Center Authority, stated, Philadelphia is recognized as the nations most historic city and we are delighted to partner with Everett in presenting such an educational and historically relevant event. The Black History Showcase has become an integral part of the mosaic that represents Philadelphia and it is also an essential component of our February hospitality and tourism attractions.
 
The Black History Showcase is an initiative of The Proud African American Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to producing community events and activities that provide positive portrayals of African American people. It is produced by Everett & Associates, Inc. Sponsors and media partners include: Colgate Palmolive Company, The United States Census 2010, Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation (OARC), The Philadelphia Tribune, WDAS FM, Philadelphia Sunday Sun, WURD 900AM, The Black Professional News, Philadelphia Daily News, The Inquirer and KD Communications Group. Participating organizations include: GPTMC, Teenshop, Inc., and the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society.
 
Featuring real people, real artifacts and real stories, the Showcase is free and open to the public.  
For more information about the Black History Showcase visit www.blackhistoryshowcase.org

Illinois targets struggling schools with new ‘Partnership Zones’

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 3 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois partners with Mass Insight and five other states in public-private initiative to improve lowest-performing schools

 

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced it will participate in a three-year, $75-million public-private partnership with five other states to develop long-term reform strategies for their lowest-performing schools. Illinois was selected to join the initiative, along with Colorado , Delaware , Louisiana , Massachusetts and New York by Mass Insight Education and Research Institute, a Boston-based non-profit education organization focused on closing achievement gaps.

“We’re excited to work with these states and Mass Insight to identify and implement new strategies to turn around struggling schools,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “This initiative, funded by an unprecedented amount of federal dollars and private donations, calls for dramatic broad-scale interventions.’’

 The Partnership Zone Initiative will be funded by a variety of private and public sources, including increased federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Additional money for these six states could also be awarded through the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program.

The states will initially establish Partnership Zones in a limited amount of districts with clusters of low-performing schools that will serve to demonstrate the success of a more strategic approach to turnaround. Each cluster of schools will be teamed with a lead partner, an organization that directly supports principals in turning around schools. Lead partners are experienced turnaround leaders selected by districts that have been pre-qualified by the State Board of Education.  The Illinois Partnership Zone will also include assistance from “Supporting Partners” who will help the district and lead partners improve the effectiveness of teachers and principals in Partnership Zone schools.

Illinois will likely select the initial Partnership Zone participants from the 12 districts or Local Education Authorities (LEAs) that have signed on to accelerate improvement efforts as “Super LEAs’’ in the state’s Race to the Top Application. Schools chosen for the Partnership Zone will be given a higher degree of priority to receive funding through Illinois ‘ share of federal school improvement grants, and may receive as much as $750,000 per school year for three years.  

Much of the additional funding will go toward increased teacher compensation to support extended learning time, intensive professional development and incentive pay in Partnership Zone schools.

Illinois’ Super LEAs, as identified in the state’s Race to the Top Application, are:

  • Community Unit School District 300
  • De Pue Unit School District 103
  • Decatur School District 61
  • Kankakee School District 111
  • Meridian Community Unit School District 101
  • Peoria School District 150
  • Plano Community Unit School District 88
  • Rich Township High School District 227
  • Rockford Public Schools District 205
  • Elgin Unit School District 46
  • Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215
  • Zion-Benton Township High School District 126

The Partnership Zone is a hybrid model that combines the benefits of a district with the operating flexibilities most frequently associated with charter schools. Zone schools remain inside the district and may continue to tap into the efficiencies of many districtwide services. However, Zone schools also give school level leaders the freedom to make staffing, scheduling, curriculum and salary decisions, in return for being held accountable for dramatic student achievement gains within two years.

The six states were selected for this group based on:

  • A commitment to the Partnership Zone framework set forth in Mass Insight’s 2007 report, The Turnaround Challenge;
  • A commitment to investing the resources necessary for successful turnaround; and,
  • Alignment and support of state leadership.

States plan to launch Partnership Zones on a flexible but aggressive timeline; with some states, including Illinois , implementing zones as early as the 2010-11 school year.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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