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Archive for June 17th, 2011

U.S. Government silent on tainted products from Taiwan

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on U.S. Government silent on tainted products from Taiwan

(From New America Media)

By Ngoc Nguyen, Vivian Po, Summer Chiang


SYNOPSIS: Food sellers in the United States are choosing to remove certain Asian products from their shelves, for fear that they may be contaminated.


San Francisco  –  More than three weeks after the Taiwanese government began a massive recall of tainted food products, the United States government has provided no guidance to retailers as to which products are safe to sell.

By contrast, the Philippines, Canada and New Zealand have published the names of specific Taiwanese food products in their countries believed to be contaminated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has compiled a list of 52 products known to be contaminated that were shipped to the United States, based on information provided by Taiwanese health officials, agency spokesman Douglas Karas said this week. But the FDA has yet to determine whether it will release that list to the public, Karas said.

The recall has involved hundreds of companies that bought tainted ingredients from at least two manufacturers. The companies used the plasticizer DEHP, one of a group of chemicals called phthalates, as a “clouding” agent in place of more expensive palm oil, according to the Taipei Times.

According to Karas, the contaminated products that entered the U.S. were primarily fruit juices, syrups and jams manufactured by Possmei International Co. Ltd., Seven Strong Co. Ltd., Dashing Industrial Co. Ltd., Patio Master International Co. Ltd., Tasty Enterprise Company, Jin Ji Wang Food Co. Ltd. and Mao-Hon International Foods Material Corp.

Karas says the FDA is testing products “to generate data upon which to make our own regulatory decisions,” including guidance to businesses and the public.

“Certainly, the fact that we don’t even know what products have been contaminated is a concern,” said Erik Olson, director of food programs for the Pew Health Group based in Washington, D.C.

Patty Lovera, assistant director of the Washington-based advocacy group Food and Water Watch, called the FDA’s response to the recall “very quiet.”

“It doesn’t seem like they are putting the word out. They are leaving it to retailers to do it,” she said.

Food safety experts said they would have expected a more proactive response from the FDA because Congress overhauled the agency in January, boosting its enforcement and inspection powers both domestically and abroad.

“The FDA has been in a responsive mode, not in prevention mode,” Lovera said.

The urgency of the FDA’s response depends on the health risk of each event, Karas said, and the Taiwanese recall “is not an immediate health risk.”

Karas said that the FDA does not believe short-term exposure to foods containing DEHP would cause acute health effects, but that tests in animals suggest long-term exposure to contaminated foods could cause cancer and changes in the endocrine system.

There is growing concern about the health effects of phthalates, Olson of the Pew Health Group said, noting that Congress recently banned the chemicals in children’s products because of the risks they pose to kids.

“The highest risk tends to be during vulnerable stages of life, during pregnancy and key stages of development for a young child,” Olson said.

In the absence of instructions from the federal government, a number of restaurants, food sellers and distributors have taken steps on their own to ensure food safety.

WaLong Marketing, a wholesaler and distributor of Asian products to more than 1,000 stories in the United States, and 99 Ranch, one of the largest Asian supermarket chains in California, last month voluntarily recalled the Song-Yi brand of concentrated juices in a variety of tropical fruit flavors and the Tradition brand of Plum Green Tea because of suspected contamination with DEHP.

“Right now, we haven’t received any notice from the FDA,” said Teddy Huang, marketing manager for WaLong, based in Buena Park, Calif. “Currently, we all depend on the Taiwan government for news of any products contaminated with DEHP, and we will do the recall by ourselves.”

99 Ranch recalled Sau Tao instant noodles in dried scallop flavor after plasticizers were found in the flavoring packets of the noodles, said Teddy Chow, 99 Ranch’s acting vice president for marketing.

More than half of the products that 99 Ranch sells come from Taiwan, Chow said, so the company has been working closely with its distributors to ensure food safety.

The Taiwanese government has ordered the makers of several categories of products, including sports drinks, juices, tea drinks, fruit jams and syrups, to certify the safety of their goods. As a result, Chow said, Taiwanese manufacturers have hired independent, third-party labs to test their products.

“The wholesalers have been very cooperative and responsible. Most of them provided us with certificates voluntarily or upon our requests, ” Chow said, adding that that 99 Ranch has put up recall notices in its 37 stores nationwide, mostly in California.

The World Journal interviewed one worker at a Bay Area tea shop who said the store had stopped selling passion fruit, mango and lychee flavors of bubble tea after receiving notice from Taiwan.

Wexiong Lee, owner of the L’epi D’or Bakery in Cupertino, told the World Journal he had received half a dozen inquires from customers who were worried about bakery goods filled with jellies and jams, which are among the tainted products in Taiwan. Although he sells some Taiwan-based products, he told the newspaper he had checked with the suppliers to make sure all of the products the bakery sells are safe.

Ton Hua, store manager of the Wing-Wa Supermarket in Sacramento, told New America Media he relies on his wholesalers to inform him about product recalls.

“We haven’t heard from the FDA,” he said. “If the FDA says it is bad, we’ll call the wholesaler to verify, and then pull it off the shelves. We don’t want to do the wrong thing.”

World Premiere of “Cirque Shanghai Extreme” at Navy Pier® postponed

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on World Premiere of “Cirque Shanghai Extreme” at Navy Pier® postponed

Chicago’s Rainy, Windy Weather Forces Delays in Roof Repairs to Pepsi Skyline Stage,
Prompting One Week Postponement of Show

 New Opening date: June 29, 2011; Ticket Exchanges or Refunds Offered

Chicago, IL – Navy Pier, in conjunction with International Special Attractions, Ltd (ISA) has issued the following statement announcing a one-week postponement of the world premiere of “Cirque Shanghai Extreme”:
The exclusive U.S. engagement of this latest death-defying production from the popular Chinese acrobatic troupe is now scheduled to begin Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 2 p.m. The high number of inclement weather days in Chicago since mid-April has forced delays in roof repairs to the Navy Pier Pepsi Skyline Stage, the 1,500-seat, canopied, open-air theater, prompting the show’s postponement from its original June 23 opening date.
“We regret and apologize for any inconvenience caused by this delay, but the safety of our roof and stage workers, the Cirque performers, and our guests is most important,” said Marilynn Gardner, Navy Pier General Manager. “We expect better weather after this upcoming weekend will allow us to complete work that will enable the troupe to prepare Pepsi Skyline Stage for what promises to be the most spectacular Cirque Shanghai show that Chicago has ever seen.”
Tickets remain on sale for all performances from June 29 through Monday, September 5, 2011 (Labor Day). Customers who have purchased “Cirque Shanghai Extreme” tickets for performances from June 23 through June 28, will be able to exchange their tickets for another performance or receive a full refund. Refunds and exchanges will be handled at the point of purchase.
Please contact Delores Robinson, Navy Pier, 312-595-5031 for any inquiries regarding this delay.

Lt. Gov. Simon: Apply for Farmers Market Grants

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on Lt. Gov. Simon: Apply for Farmers Market Grants

 Carbondale, IL  – An advocate for rural communities, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today urged local food producers to apply for a federal grant that promotes farmers markets.


The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced the availability of $10 million in competitive grants for FY 2011 through the Farmers Market Promotion Program. The deadline to apply is July 1.

The grants are targeted at projects that help improve and expand farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.

Priority status will be granted to those projects that expand healthy food choices in food deserts. Entities eligible to apply for grant funding include agricultural cooperatives, local governments and nonprofit corporations.

“I encourage local food producers across the state to take advantage of this opportunity to grow their farmers markets,” Lt. Governor Simon said. “Expanding access to local foods promotes healthy eating and strengthens our economy.”

Lt. Governor Simon serves as chair of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, which is focused on developing markets for locally grown foods by removing barriers to farmers markets, as well as encouraging compliance with the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act.

 For additional information on grant eligibility and how to apply, visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FMPP.   


BLACKDOCTOR.ORG & The National Medical Association partner to impact the lives of millions

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on BLACKDOCTOR.ORG & The National Medical Association partner to impact the lives of millions


Chicago, IL (BlackNews.com) — BlackDoctor.org (BDO), the leading online health destination for African Americans, has teamed up with the premiere medical organization for African American physicians, the National Medical Association (NMA), to provide greater access to culturally relevant and culturally accurate health information for the Black community.

“This partnership is a powerful step in the right direction,” says Reginald Ware, BDO CEO and Founder. “Our platform will enable NMA physicians to speak directly to Black consumers in a trusted environment, and will provide our users with a wider selection of doctor specialties to choose from within BDO’s free doctor search tool.”

This exciting partnership will:

* Greatly enhance the user experience for BDO’s two million monthly visitors, thanks to increased access to medical experts – including more doctor-led Q&A sessions, targeted practical health tips, even a special column where the latest medical breakthroughs are broken down and explained in everyday language by NMA experts.

* Host the NMA President’s Corner, which allows NMA leadership to speak directly with BDO users. Additionally, the NMA will provide policy alerts and information vital to families.

* Launch a professional “doctors only” site called BDO Professional (BDO Pro). BDO Pro will provide an ideal online destination for NMA members, as well as all doctors in general with large Black patient bases. This unique site will address many of the lifestyle and business issues that doctors face on a daily basis, such as cultural competence, medical breakthroughs, health policies, and a number of other critical topics.

* Advertisers who want to reach Black patients and Black physicians can now do so through BDO or the NMA.

The brand new BDO Professional website will be unveiled at the annual 2011 NMA Convention and Scientific Assembly, which will be held in Washington, DC on July 23- 27th.

“What this partnership means for patients and consumers is greater access to the culturally relevant tools that BDO has been providing for years,” says Dr. Leonard Weather Jr., NMA President. “Together, BDO and the NMA will work to increase health awareness and decrease health disparities.”
About BlackDoctor.org

Chicago-based BlackDoctor.org (www.BlackDoctor.org) is the leading resource for African-American health, nutrition and weight loss. With over 500 different health channels on its website, BlackDoctor.org stands alone as the most comprehensive online health resource for African Americans. BlackDoctor.org delivers: the BDO Health Library, Find-A-Doctor Search Tool, BDO Symptom Checker, culturally-accurate health news, condition-specific newsletters and community blogs.

About National Medical Association
Founded in 1985, the National Medical Association is the nation’s oldest and largest medical association representing the interests of more than 50,000 African-American physicians and their patients. The NMA advocates for policies that assure equitable and quality health care for all people. Visit the NMA at www.nmanet.org.

Institute of the Black World declares war on the “War on Drugs”

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on Institute of the Black World declares war on the “War on Drugs”

 Drug Policy Analysts and Advocates to Focus on Devastating Impact on Black Communities


Rev. Jesse L. Jackson to Keynote Forum on Alternatives to a Failed Strategy. The event is today, (Friday, June 17, Noon-3 p.m., at the National Press Club, The Murrow Room, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C.



Under the leadership of Dr. Ron Daniels, the Institute of the Black World 21st Century(IBW) is mounting an initiative to galvanize support  to end the “War on Drugs” which was launched 40 years ago by President Richard M. Nixon. The expressed goal of the War on Drugs was to halt the trafficking of illegal drugs in the U.S. But, Dr. Daniels and many drug policy reform analysts and advocates believe it has had a destructive impact on Black communities across the nation. Dr. Daniels states, “Far from stemming the tide of illegal drugs, the War on Drugs quickly became a war on us.  Black communities have been a primary target for selective policing practices that have resulted in the mass incarceration of millions of Black people. Families have been disrupted and communities devastated by a racially biased policy. It is time to declare war on the war on drugs and vigorously explore just and humane alternatives to a failed strategy. ”


Against the backdrop of the 40th Anniversary of the War on Drugs, IBW,  in conjunction with the Black Family Summit,  is conducting a series of programmatic activities during the month of June culminating with a major Forum June 17, 12:00 Noon – 3:00 PM at the National Press Club in Washington. D.C. The Forum will focus on the Theme: Declaring War on the “War on Drugs:” Creating Just and Humane Alternatives to a Failed Strategy. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, President of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition has agreed to be the Keynote Speaker for what IBW hopes will be a powerful catalyst for change. Addressing the selection of Rev. Jackson as Keynote Speaker, Dr. Daniels notes that “no one has been more consistent and persistent in analyzing and sounding the alarm about the flaws  and egregious consequences of America’s criminal justice policies and priorities than Rev. Jesse Jackson. Therefore, we felt it appropriate that Rev. Jackson once again give the nation the benefit of his knowledge and experience of crusading against a failed strategy for the past four decades.”


Rev. Jesse Jackson will headline a stellar line-up of political leaders and drug policy reform analysts and advocates: Dr. Elsie Scott, President, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc;  Congressman John Conyers, Jr, Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee; Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security; Richard Adams, Chairman, IBW Board; Leonard Dunston, Convener, Black Family Summit; Dr. Edwin Chapman, MD, Medical Director, Washington, D.C. Drug Treatment Center; Kinaya Sokoya, Executive Director,  D.C. Children’s Trust Fund;  Rev. Dr. Frank Tucker, Chairman, Greater Washington, D.C.  Area National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS;  Dr. Benson Cooke, President, National Association of Black Psychologists; Sanho Tree, Fellow and Director, Drug Policy Project, Institute for Policy Studies; Deborah Small, Director, Breaking the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs; Judge Arthur Burnette, Director, African American Drug Policy Coalition; Jasmine Tyler, Deputy Director of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance; Robert Rooks, NAACP Criminal Justice Director, and, Neill Franklin, Executive Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. 


Dr. Ron Daniels will issue the Call to ActionConfronting the State of Emergency in Black America: Holistic Strategies to Heal Black Communities. Attorney Nkechi Taifa, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Institute, will serve as Moderator.


Working in collaboration with the Black Family Summit, IBW will conduct a multi-year national dialogue and educational campaign to mobilize support for alternatives to the War on Drugs. The Black Family Summit is comprised of a number of Black professional organizations including the National Association of Black Social Workers, National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS,  National Association of Black Psychologists, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement,  National Association of Black Psychiatrists of America,  National Medical Association, All Healers Mental Health Alliance, Nation of Islam, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, National Black United Front, International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, The Black Farmers and Agriculturist Association, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions and Black Administrators in Child Welfare. 


For further information or to arrange interviews contact: Carolyn McClair, 917.686.0854 cmprnews@aol.com

Maternal mortality rates increase for African-American women

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on Maternal mortality rates increase for African-American women

(From New America Media)

By Marjorie Valbrun


SYNOPSIS: Nationally, black women are four-times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than whites


Washington, D.C. — High rates of obesity, high blood pressure and inadequate prenatal care cause death from childbirth more often for African-Americans in the United States than for whites and other ethnic groups. Worsening this trend are the increasing numbers of cesarean sections nationally. These procedures can result in deadly complications for women dangerously overweight or suffering from hypertension or other ailments.

Nationally, blacks have a four-times greater risk of pregnancy-related death than whites — a rate of 36.1 per 100,000 live births compared with 9.6 for whites and 8.5 for Hispanics, according to a 2008 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Maternal mortality rates have been rising in the United States since the mid-1990s. In 1997, the black maternal mortality rate was 21.5 per 100,000 live births compared with 8.0 for Hispanics and 5.2 for whites, according to the CDC. The rate for other races was 8.8.

By 2007, the black maternal mortality rate had jumped to 28.4, roughly three times the rates among whites and Hispanics at 10.5 and 8.9 respectively. Statistics were not available for Asians/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.

Trends show that black maternal mortality rates are increasing in some parts of the country, and two recent studies highlighting the problem have renewed calls for increased focus on reducing the deaths.

According to the new reports, the pregnancy-related mortality rate in some states rivals that in some developing nations. The problem is particularly acute in New York City, where blacks are nearly eight times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than whites, and in California where pregnant blacks are four times as likely to die from childbirth.

“The magnitude of this black-white gap in maternal mortality is the greatest among all health disparities… and that gap is growing. It’s unacceptable,” Michael Lu, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health at UCLA and an expert in racial and socio-economic disparities in maternal and infant health, recently told PBS NewsHour.

The black-white gap also stubbornly persists for a variety of socio-economic reasons, including education and income levels, access to and quality of health care, and lifestyle and diet. Improved health care could reduce the maternal death rate by 40 percent to 50 percent, according to CDC estimates, but medical attention has been focused more often on reducing infant mortality during the past decades.

“When we look at some of the factors associated with maternal mortality, most of the underlying factors tend to be dominant in the African-American community, and it is manifested in the health disparities that affect our population,” says Dr. Kerry M. Lewis, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Howard University’s College of Medicine and chief of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Lewis, who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, says the mortality rate reflects lack of access to specialized health care that integrates comprehensive skills and technology. Too often, he says, patients are treated by family practitioners, nurse midwives, general obstetricians and gynecologists instead of specialists trained in high-risk pregnancies and medical problems that can cause complications during birth.

Obesity and hypertension are the major contributors to the black maternal mortality rate, leading to death from strokes, renal failure and other complications associated with obesity, Lewis says.

“We have to look at the reality of where we practice,” he says. “Obesity is much greater among African-Americans. I deal with a gamut of high-risk problems, but complications from obesity are an underlying problem in all of them.

“Even young patients when they come in for prenatal visits have very elevated rates of high blood pressure. It really starts with obesity, so when they become pregnant, it places them at a higher risk for infections and other complications.” To a lesser extent, sickle-cell disease, a genetic disorder more common in people of color, also causes complications, he says.

Lewis, who also chairs the District of Columbia section of the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, says the increase in C-sections has compounded the problem because they can lead to hemorrhage, infections and pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in the lungs. One-third of births in the United States are now by C-section compared with 20 percent a decade ago.

“Women who have C-sections have higher rates of complications and maternal mortality than with vaginal deliveries,” Lewis says.

The California study bears this out. Of the 386 women who died in the state during childbirth in 2002 and 2003, it found, 65 had undergone C-sections “and most were unplanned or emergency surgeries to try and save the life of the mother or the infant.” Additionally, more than one-third of the deaths “were determined to have had a good to strong chance of being prevented and some causes of death appeared to be more preventable than others.”

The study also found that:
— Blacks in California had a four-times higher risk of maternal death and were more likely to have been overweight or obese and to have risk factors identified in the prenatal period.
— High rates of obesity or excessive gestational weight gain were contributing factors in one of four deaths.
— From 2006 to 2008, the black maternal mortality rate in the state was 46.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with 12.8 for Hispanics, 12.4 for whites and 9.3 for Asians.
— Although blacks account for only 6 percent of California births, they represented 22 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in 2002 and 2003. Hispanics had the largest number of pregnancy-related deaths, 44 percent, and account for 51 percent of births statewide.
— Cardiomyopathy, or heart disease, was the leading cause of death for blacks with pregnancy-related deaths and accounted for 36 percent of the 22 deaths in that group and 62 percent of all deaths due to the disease.
— Thirty-one percent of mothers who died had not completed high school.

Conrad Chao, department chair and program director of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, who worked on the report, has said that he was surprised by “the magnitude of the disparity” and that the quality of care given these women needs further exploration.

The CDC issued a report in 2001 calling for comprehensive, broad-based public health surveillance of pregnancy-related deaths to identify factors, from pre-pregnancy through six weeks after birth, that affect a woman’s chance of survival and that place minority and older women at increased risk of death.

The report said surveillance must include reviewing the causes of deaths, analyzing the findings and coordinating action among public health agencies.

“Too often, surveillance stops after identifying and counting deaths,” the report states. “With the resources available today, we should be able to eliminate this gap in such an important health outcome.”

State Board, IEA and IFT recognize more than 20 educators for their outstanding performance in specific content areas

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on State Board, IEA and IFT recognize more than 20 educators for their outstanding performance in specific content areas

 Award recognition luncheon features teachers from across the state


Springfield, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education, along with the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, honored 22 teachers from across the state for their outstanding achievement in a variety of subject areas during a luncheon Thursday at the Executive Mansion in Springfield. The educators were chosen as the best in their field of expertise during the 2010-11 school year by their respective professional education organizations.

“Most of us have memories of an extraordinary teacher who made a difference in our lives,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “They were most likely people whose concern for us, passion and expertise motivated us to learn and excel and we were never quite the same. It is exactly those types of teachers who we are honoring here today and who have made an impact on countless of their own students in the past year and for years to come.”

Thursday’s event was the first Exemplary Teacher Recognition Award Luncheon.

“We are proud to recognize these outstanding teachers and we know there are many, many great teachers throughout the state,’’ said IEA President-elect Cinda Klickna. “This is just one way that we can honor the work educators provide everyday to make sure students are engaged and learning.’’

Each fall, the ISBE names one teacher of the year and recognizes more than 150 educators nominated by their own district or members of their communities for outstanding service. Alton High School English and journalism teacher Annice Brave was named the Illinois Teacher of the Year last fall and was one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year. Thursday’s event honored those cited by their peers and professional leaders.

“These top teachers have been honored by various professional organizations for their excellence in the classroom,’’ said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “Illinois has some of the best and brightest teachers in every field and today we’re taking time to honor the incredible work they do to prepare our future leaders.”

The following teachers were recognized at Thursday’s luncheon:






Karen Bear Illinois Marketing Educator of the Year Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) Elmwood Park High School
Lisa Bernstein Elementary Mathematics Teaching Award Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Rhodes Middle School, River Grove
Caitlin Bouse Formal Educator of the Year Environmental Education Association of Illinois Elmhurst Academy
Jason Crean 2009 National Finalist Science Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Lyons Township High School, LaGrange 
Darrel Dexter Olive Foster Teacher of the Year Illinois State Historical Society Egyptian Community High School,Tamms
Susan Ferdon IAAE Music Educator Illinois Alliance for Arts Education Association Kipling Elementary School, Deerfield
Maryjoy Heineman Illinois Promising New Teacher of Mathematics Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Evanston High School
Virginia Green Highstone T.E. Rine Secondary Mathematics Teaching Award Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics York High School, Elmhurst
Robert Holquist Technology Teacher of the Year International Technology and Engineering Educators Association Glenwood Middle School,Chatham
Jerry Hund Illinois Drafting Teacher of the Year Drafting Educators Association Bartlett High School
Nadine Larson Class Nobel Educator of Distinction National Society of High School Scholars Moline High School
Sarah Livesay Malcolm D. Swan Award for Outstanding Service Environmental Education Association of Illinois Project Learning Tree
Joyce Mitchell Non-Formal Educator of the Year Environmental Education Association of Illinois Illini Bluffs Elementary School, Glasford
Kevin Muck Technology Division Head International Technology and Engineering Association of Illinois Wheeling High School
Jim O’Malley 2010 State Finalist Science Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Thomas A. Edison Elementary School, Morton Grove
Brenda Reynolds Administrator of the Year International Technology and  Engineering Educators Association High School District 230,Orland Park
Dr. Kammie Richter Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Program Oakwood Junior High School, Danville
Fran Wachter 2010 State Finalist Science Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Creal Springs School
Jay Walgren Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Illinois Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers Vernon Hills High School
Erin Washkuhn Physical Education Teacher of the Year/Midwest District Elementary School National Association for Sport and Physical Education Anderson Elementary School, St. Charles
Lucy Weck 2010 State Finalist Science Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Oblong Elementary School, Oblong
Robyn Williams Olive Foster Teacher of the Year Illinois State Historical Society Harrisburg High School


After School Matters: Study suggests flagship after-school program for teens helps reduce problem behaviors

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on After School Matters: Study suggests flagship after-school program for teens helps reduce problem behaviors


Evanston, IL – A three-year evaluation of After School Matters — a Chicago after-school program that serves more than 17,000 students and is a model for high school after-school programs in cities around the country — suggests that well implemented, apprenticeship-style programs help reduce problem behavior in high school aged youth.

“Our study of selected After School Matters apprenticeships found that youth in the program engaged in fewer problem behaviors, particularly gang activity and selling drugs,” said Barton Hirsch, the Northwestern University professor of education and social policy who led the evaluation.
In addition, the study found youth in After School Matters demonstrated more of what psychologists call “self-regulation,” considered a key component of positive youth development. Self-regulation involves the ability to stay focused on achieving goals despite emotional and other distractions, said Hirsch.

The large-scale study followed 535 Chicago high school students from 10 Chicago public high schools. All of them had applied to participate in After School Matters internships although only half won a lottery allowing their participation. Ninety-one percent of the control group — those students who lost the After School Matters lottery and did not participate in After School Matters apprenticeships — participated in organized after-school activities, community-based programs or paid work. 

The study is the first randomized controlled study — the gold standard in evaluation research — of a high school after-school program since the 1980s. Hirsch conducted it with Northwestern statistics professor and Institute for Policy Research fellow Larry Hedges and University of Wisconsin-Extension professor JulieAnn Stawicki.

The researchers found no statistically significant difference between students in After School Matters and the control group in the areas of job skills and academic performance. Ninety-two percent of all the students studied came from low-income households and almost all were minority students.

“It’s a ‘yes but’ message,” said Hirsch, who nonetheless called the results “promising.” “The After School Matters apprenticeships were more oriented toward skill development, creating a product and looking toward the future — and this seems to have paid off,” he added.
At the same time, Hirsch said the findings make the researchers cautious. “Because the 13 apprenticeships that we studied were among the best After School Matters offered, we still don’t know how the average After School Matters apprenticeship compares with the average alternative after-school program,” he noted. 

The researchers purposefully chose to study After School Matters’ better apprenticeship programs to determine what happens when a program is implemented well. The apprenticeships in graphic design, computer repair, culinary arts, songwriting and producing, and other areas were chosen on the basis of recommendations and preliminary evaluations.

After School Matters executive director David Sinski emphasized the value of the study, saying “It’s important for us to have this validation of what we do well and ensure we apply the findings to all After School Matters programs.” He noted that After School Matters recently formed a Program Quality Division focusing on continual improvement of the program model.
“That division includes training instructors on evidence-based program quality methods,” said Sinski. He anticipates that better preparing instructors and other enhancements “will result in even greater outcomes for teens in our programs.”

After School Matters, which has programs throughout the City of Chicago, seeks to provide out-of-school opportunities that expose teens to career areas and help them develop skills. Ten-week sessions in fall and spring meet for three hours three times weekly. Two instructors with expertise in the area direct each apprenticeship.
At the time of the study, students were paid the equivalent of $5 per hour.
Based on their findings, the researchers have made suggestions for strengthening After School Matters programs. “They need to do better in getting across to teens that the skills they learn in After School Matters will help them get jobs,” said Northwestern’s Hirsch. “And apprenticeship instructors need to insist on high-quality work and keep young people focused on the task at hand.” 

An innovative outgrowth of the study is a curriculum for teaching job interview skills. With the help of human resources professionals, the researchers designed a mock job interview to assess marketable job skills.

Before the teens were given interview training, human resources experts found many teens had experiences and skills that employers value but in interviews the youth often failed to convey those experiences or communicate their credentials.

“That changed when they received our brief interview curriculum,” Hirsch said. “In several Chicago Public Schools classrooms where students went through interview training, the mock interviews nearly tripled the would-be hiring rate.” 

After School Matters executive director Sinski expects the study to have repercussions beyond Chicago. 

“Organizations in New York, Boston and other cities have replicated our apprenticeship model,” Sinski said. “This study helps us all recognize the key components that make the apprenticeship experience so valuable for young people, as we work collectively to provide important out-of-school time opportunities for teens nationwide.” 
Support for the study came from the William T. Grant Foundation, Wallace Foundation and Searle Fund.

Copies of the complete After School Matters evaluation are available online at http://www.sesp.northwestern.edu/profile/?p=42&/BartonHirsch/.

(Source contact: Barton Hirsch can be reached by e-mail at bhirsch@northwestern.edu)

NORTHWESTERN NEWS: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/

Black role models to engineer the future of 3rd-5th Graders

Posted by Admin On June - 17 - 2011 Comments Off on Black role models to engineer the future of 3rd-5th Graders


Alexandria, VA (BlackNews.com) — Several hundred elementary school students across the country will participate in a series of technical competitions at a summer program designed to produce future engineers. Organized by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) camps will open their doors beginning this month in Columbus, Ohio; Oakland and San Diego, Calif.; and the District of Columbia.

The mission of the SEEK Camp is “to build a pipeline to careers in science, technology, engineering and math for African-American and other underrepresented minority children, by having them engage in interactive, team-based engineering projects,” said NSBE National Chair Calvin Phelps, 23, the top officer of the more than 35,000-member organization.

Tony Harris, one of NSBE’s founders and chair of its National Advisory Board, was a key proponent of the SEEK camp in Oakland.

“I am very excited that NSBE has decided to bring SEEK to Oakland,” Harris said. “Now Bay Area students from underrepresented communities will have an opportunity to get exposed to the exciting possibilities of an engineering career.”

“As a local employer as well as a parent myself, I know how important it is to provide role models to young students and to plant seeds in young minds at an early age,” he added.

SEEK was initially funded by a $1-million donation to NSBE from the Battelle Foundation in 2007. Since its inception, the program has blossomed from two to four camps. A fundamental aspect of the SEEK program is that NSBE collegiate members serve as mentors to the third through fifth graders who participate in the camps. NSBE created SEEK to address not only the underrepresentation of blacks in STEM fields but also the underachievement of black students in K-12 classrooms. Over the past decade, black students have made up only about 5 percent of U.S. students receiving bachelor’s degrees in engineering, and today, less than half of black students in many U.S. cities graduate from high school on time.

The SEEK mentors will be trained by representatives of SAE International (the Society of Automotive Engineers) and Grace Carroll, Ph.D. of Carroll Consulting. The NSBE Pre-College Initiative (PCI) team developed the SEEK experience from SAE International’s “A World in Motion,” an interactive, standards-based curriculum that emphasizes student motivation, mentoring, cultural connection and parental involvement.

Franklin Moore, NSBE’s director of programs, stated that, “We are extremely excited about what SEEK offers to our young children and perhaps even more excited that this comes at no cost to parents.”

The list of NSBE’s partners in SEEK has expanded over the years and now includes Chevron Corporation; The Clorox Company; Cummins Inc.; CSECO; Edison International; Intel Corporation; NRG Energy, Inc.; San Diego Gas & Electric Company, San Diego State University, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy.

In addition, the free, three-week camp in Oakland has gained the support of many local organizations, such as Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and 100 Black Men of America, Inc., both of which will provide judges for the weekly competitions.

“The support of so many generous partners is integral to the success of the SEEK program. But it is also evidence of our nation’s need to rebuild its technological dominance by encouraging more young people to go into STEM,” says Carl B. Mack, executive director of NSBE. Mack is leading NSBE’s efforts to have a SEEK camp in every state in the U.S.

For more information about SEEK, including the dates of each camp, please visit www.nsbe.org. Or contact Franklin Moore, NSBE director of programs, at (703) 549-2207, ext. 204 or fmoore@nsbe.org, or Alaina Law, NSBE Pre-College Initiative manager, at (703) 549-2207, ext. 301 or alaw@nsbe.org.


The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a student-governed, not-for-profit organization founded in 1975, is the premier organization serving blacks in engineering and technology. With more than 35,000 members and 400 chapters in the U.S. and abroad, NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of college and pre-college students and technical professionals. NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professional and positively impact the community.”

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