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Archive for August 18th, 2011

Alexi Giannoulias to chair Illinois Community College Board

Posted by Admin On August - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Alexi Giannoulias has been appointed by Governor Quinn to chair the Illinois Community College Board.  The Illinois Community College system is the 3rd largest in the country, with 48 community colleges serving nearly one million students annually.  Nearly 64 percent of Illinois students enrolled in public higher education in Illinois attend community colleges, with completions hitting a record high in fiscal year 2010. Illinois community colleges awarded a total of 56,884 degrees and certificates last fiscal year, up 14 percent since 2006, according to a recent ICCB report.

Throughout his term as State Treasurer and during his campaign for the US Senate, Alexi has always said that the greatest investment we could make is in education.  He has focused his efforts on increased funding for early childhood education, reforming our public school system and working with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to make sure our Community Colleges are the best in the world.  As he’s always said, “we need to educate our way to a stronger economy.”

 “Community colleges play a vital role in creating the workforce of the 21st century by providing economical, flexible and effective training degrees,” Giannoulias said. “And since putting Americans back to work is the single greatest challenge facing our country, a well-trained, well-educated workforce is absolutely crucial to America’s future. To ensure that every young adult has the tools for gainful employment, our community college system must help students graduate with a meaningful degree that will enable them to find a job.”

 U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a strong proponent of community colleges, has supported efforts to develop and improve programs designed to prepare community college students for successful careers in emerging industries.  


“I want to commend Governor Quinn for choosing Alexi Giannoulias for this critically important job,” Duncan said. “Alexi is a passionate believer in public education and I’m confident that his leadership will help the community colleges of Illinois do a better job of preparing young people to compete in the global economy.”

 

  

Alexi sets agenda with op-ed

Here is an early preview of an op-ed set to publish next week that Alexi wrote sharing his views on the future of the Illinois community college system:

 

“COMMUNITY COLLEGES: EDUCATING OUR WAY TO A STRONGER ECONOMY”

If we are serious about dealing with the grave economic challenges facing this nation, the most important long-term investment we can make is in education. 

 But there is much work to be done.  In order for us to improve our Community Colleges we must be innovative and aggressive, by:However, the benefits of improving Illinois’ 48 Community Colleges will accrue not only to these students, but also to Illinois businesses in the form of higher earnings, and to state and local governments in the form of increased tax revenue.  Nine out of ten Illinois Community College graduates live, work, raise their families and pay taxes in Illinois.Illinois’ Community Colleges account for nearly two-thirds (63.9%) of all students enrolled in public higher education.  Our Community Colleges offer training in over 300 different careers/occupations and overall they train, educate and enhance the lives of almost one million students each year.  Students who complete their Illinois Community College education attain a double-digit percentage increase in earnings over their pre-enrollment wages. We must do everything we can to strengthen our Community Colleges here in Illinois.  It is a moral and financial imperative.Community Colleges here in Illinois and across the country play a vital role in creating the workforce of the 21st century by providing effective, less expensive, and more flexible vocational and job training certificates and degrees.  They are also a bridge for many students to an associate degree at a four-year institution.   Of all postsecondary sectors, community colleges enroll by far the highest proportion of low-income youth and the highest proportion of minority groups, who have the most difficult time finding career opportunities.  Reversing the growing income inequality in America is among the most important tasks facing our nation.Other countries understand this and are making the proper investments in job training and education.  For example, in Germany, over 90% of large companies participate in vocational training programs that start when students are 14 or 15 years old.  This helps them achieve long-term employment after graduation and has made Germany one of the strongest economies in the world. The ability of the U.S. to compete in the global marketplace in the 21st century and beyond will depend on our ability to better educate our citizens.  Studies show that over 60% of all new jobs in the next decade will require a postsecondary certificate or degree.  The best jobs and fastest growing firms, whether in technology, engineering, bioscience, trade or manufacturing will gravitate to communities with a highly educated workforce.And since putting Americans back to work is the greatest single challenge facing our country, a well-trained, well-educated workforce is absolutely crucial to America’s economic future.

 

-          Building better networks with Community College alumni,

-          Making sure each College has the necessary resources to succeed,

-          Leveraging technology to help create the jobs of the future,

-          Improving retention rates  (this will be done by shifting the focus from student enrollment to student completion),

-          Creating opportunities for high school and adult education students to earn college credit,

-          Providing flexible curriculum to correctly align with the career needs of each community, and

-          Matching courses to the needs of local businesses by creating a Business Advisory Council for each College.

The business community’s role in this effort is absolutely critical.  There needs to be a stronger relationship and better dialogue between the private sector and our community colleges.  The colleges should be asking businesses where the jobs are and what they’re looking for, and in turn, business leaders can help craft courses and build a curriculum around those jobs immediately. 

The strength of America’s Community Colleges will determine our standing around the world.  We have to invest heavily and ambitiously in our Community College system and with a strong sense of urgency.  This is crucial not only for our economic future and for job growth going forward, but because a quality education has always been the hallmark of a better life, a happier existence and a stronger nation.  As the American philosopher John Dewey once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”. 

Bus Driver foils Blue Line robbery suspects escape

Posted by Admin On August - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

An alert CTA bus driver helped police apprehend two men who attacked and robbed a Blue Line passenger of his iPhone, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Bond was set at $200,000 each for Tevon Woods and Alvon Hoskins, both 20, of Chicago. The two were each charged with one count of Robbery and they face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

According to prosecutors, the victim was listening to music on his iPhone when he exited a Blue Line train at the Harlem Station. The defendants grabbed him from behind by his backpack and pulled the victim down the station’s escalator to the platform. The backpack was ripped off him with such force that the straps broke and the bag was thrown on the tracks.

The offenders grabbed the victim’s iPhone, fled the station and boarded a northbound Harlem CTA bus. The CTA driver overheard their suspicious conversation and called police after dropping the pair off at a fast food restaurant in Niles.

Police responded to the restaurant and took Woods into custody while he was standing in line to order food. Hoskins was found hiding in the restroom and police recovered the victim’s iPhone in the garbage in the restroom. Both defendants were also identified by the victim.

Woods and Hoskins appeared in Central Bond Court where Cook County Circuit Court Judge Peggy Chiampas set bond at $200,000 each and continued the case to August 23rd.

The public is reminded that charging documents contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Pass the Urban Jobs Act Now

Posted by Admin On August - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

By Marc H. Morial, President and CEO
National Urban League

 
“This program would give city organizations the tools and resources they need to help our youth prepare for future jobs, find employment opportunities, and reach their full potential.”  New York Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand

 

Despite all the attention paid in recent months to spending cuts, there are some Members of Congress who agree with the National Urban League that the nation’s number one priority must be job creation and putting America back to work.  Months ago, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New York Representative Edolphus Towns introduced the Urban Jobs Act that would provide much-needed federal funding to non-profit organizations engaged in preparing at-risk youth, ages 18-24, for the world of work.

On Tuesday of this week, Gillibrand, Towns and I participated in a press conference at the New York Urban League in Harlem to generate greater Congressional and public support for this important legislation.  We were joined by New York Congressman Charles Rangel, NY Assemblyman Keith Wright, and New York Urban League President, Arva Rice.  All of us agree: the nation’s recovery cannot be complete until we bring jobs and hope back to hard pressed urban communities.

More than one-third of the nation’s minority youth are unemployed. But, even with 14 million Americans out of work, at least 2 million jobs remain unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the needed skills.  The Urban Jobs Act would help close that gap by targeting federal funding to assist urban youth, many of whom have dropped out of school or are in need of a second chance, in obtaining the education and skills necessary for success in the labor market.  This would help reduce youth unemployment, provide workers for open jobs and strengthen the economy.

The average unemployment rate for minority youths in urban communities in July was approximately 39 percent for African Americans and 36 percent for Latinos.  In New York, these minority youth are twice as likely to drop out of school and make up 80 percent of the city’s detention centers.  Clearly, we must make targeted, effective investments now to spur urban job growth and prevent the loss of an entire generation.  That is the real potential of the Urban Jobs Act.

The Act would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to prepare youth ages 18 through 24 for entry into the job market. A national organization that received a grant would provide a comprehensive set of services that includes:
Case management services to help participants effectively utilize the services offered by the program;

Educational programming, including skills assessment, reading and math remediation, educational enrichment, GED preparation, and post-secondary education;

Employment and job readiness activities, including mentoring, placement in community service opportunities, internships, on-the-job training, occupational skills training, job placement in unsubsidized jobs, and personal development; and

Support services, including health and nutrition referral, housing assistance, training in interpersonal and basic living skills, transportation, child care, clothing, and other assistance as needed.

The Act would increase the capacity of organizations like the Urban League of New York which operates two city employment centers and has helped prepare many young adults for full-time employment. 

Our message to Congress is clear:  The time for debate and delay is over.  Pass the Urban Jobs Bill now.

Click here to sign a letter of support: http://iamempowered.com/article/2011/05/26/urban-jobs-act-2011-s-922-letter-support. 

120 Wall Street â–ª New York, NY 10005 â–ª (212) 558-5300 â–ª WWW.NUL.ORG

 

 

 

 

 

Uncle M.L.: An Op-Ed on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted by Admin On August - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

By Isaac Newton Farris, Jr.

President/CEO, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

 

Unfortunately, I never met The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but fortunately, I did meet Uncle M. L. (short for Martin Luther), the name he was referred to by his parents, siblings, family and friends as he was growing up to become Dr King. During his life time, I was too young to understand or be aware of the societal injustices that were surrounding me, and certainly too young to comprehend his great dream for America, or his nonviolent philosophy as an instruction manual on how to live one’s life.

My memories are of a guy I used to play with. A man that I would curiously notice during the hours of family time at the annual Thanksgiving dinner who would slip away to another room to get a quick nap. It would be years before I could appreciate how the mantle of his leadership and the weight of his work and travel schedule created the conditions where he desperately needed those quick naps.

I do have a very vague memory or two of him in the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist, our family church, but my memories are overwhelmingly of a playful comical man. Just as in his work as a man of the cloth and as a human and civil rights leader, Uncle M. L. during his family and friend time was determined to bring joy, relief and laughter to those surrounding him. Aside from remembering playing with him, I vividly remember the fun effect he had on others. After his assassination, as I grew and learned of his work, I recognized the compassion I saw at home in his work.

As I grew to comprehend his philosophy and meet Dr King, I realized that one of the true regrets that I have in life is that I was not old enough for us to have worked together, as we played together. As the newly elected President/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference [SCLC] the most successful human rights organization in American history, I now follow in his footsteps as the 2nd generation of King Leadership 

 But I can only imagine how the multitude of citizens black and white, male/female, and the old and the young, whose names are not held up in the bright lights, who enabled him to be the great Dr. King. I can only imagine how they must feel having been apart of a revolution that not only changed our country but the world. There is a sense of pride when I think about the fact that a guy I share DNA with, a guy who precedes me by only one generation and a guy I actually knew will have a monument built in his honor in the A list section on the mall in the nation’s capitol.

I know my fellow African-Americans have a sense of pride knowing that a person that looks like them will have a place along side some of our greatest presidents. But for me, the proudest thing (and I think it would be the proudest thing for Uncle M. L.) is the long term impact this will have on American society. In the immediate term, the focus will probably center on the fact that this is the first time a monument will be built to honor an African American. In the long term the true point of pride for me is that this will be the first monument given for PEACE and NONVIOLENCE on the mall.

This in no way is a criticism or negative reflection on the other existing monuments; they all deserve to be there, just like the monument to Uncle M. L. But the monument to Uncle M. L. will provide future generations an example of a citizen leader who led, fought and won a war without ever having fired a shot. Future generations will see an army of black and white, male/female, and old and young who met the violence of attack dogs, water hoses, bombings, gunfire and lynchings. With the nonviolence of passive resistance, peace and love for one’s fellow human being, future generations will know it is possible to meet violence with nonviolence and win. They will know that conflicts can be resolved without use of weapons that rights don’t have to be achieved at the point of a gun.

This monument will be a gathering place for people of all hues, any ethnicity and any religious orientation or no religious orientation.  This monument will be both a reminder and an example to people around the world demonstrating how to change the negative aspects of their societies, while preserving the best, and most importantly, preserving life and the infrastructure needed to maintain it.

Just as the National Holiday commemorating Uncle M.L.’s life has become much more than a day of hero worship of a man, to a day where millions of Americans perform acts of service to others, in fact, it’s the only holiday on the American calendar whose official designation states that is not a day for play but a day of service to others. Because of what Uncle M.L. did as a citizen leader, the principles he fought and stood for this monument will follow that tradition and become more than a memorial to the man but an inspirational NONVIOLENT path to a more caring, a more peaceful and a more just society.

As one who shares DNA with a guy, who I personally consider the greatest leader of the 20th century, it’s not the brick and mortar on the mall that gives me the greatest sense of pride, but the lesson that it conveys, CHANGE THROUGH  NONVIOLENCE.

Congratulations Uncle ML on a life well lived!

Press inquiries can be made to: Eaton.Maynard@gmail.com

Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King Jr and currently serves as President/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Chicago South Side Preschool and Elementary School Fair September 24th

Posted by Admin On August - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS
 
South Side Parents, Hyde Park Parent Support Network, and Neighborhood Parents Network jointly present a school fair open to the public on Sat., September 24th, 2011
 
Chicago, IL –  Searching for a school can be an overwhelming process. To help south side families faced with this seemingly monumental decision, South Side Parents, Hyde
Park Parent Support Network, and Neighborhood Parents Network are joining forces to present the South Side Preschool & Elementary School Fair on September 24th, 2011, from 10am-1pm, hosted by Maria High School, 6727 S. California Ave., in Chicago. The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available. 
Event website: http://npnparents.org/expos/193. Online registration is now open!
This event will provide families in and around the south side of Chicago with a way to easily access and connect with their public and private school options. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet representatives from numerous schools, as well as enrichment programs and family-friendly businesses from all across the city.
The Chicago Public Schools Office of Early Childhood Education and Office of Academic Enhancement will have representatives in attendance. Exhibitors will include both public and private schools serving the South Side neighborhoods, and resources such as Prep Chicago and Lango of Chicago. Thank you to our host Maria High School, our media Sponsor Chicago Parent Magazine and our supporting sponsor Chicago News Cooperative.
Please email leslye@npnparents.org to learn more about getting involved in this important event.
About Neighborhood Parents Network – NPN connects a diverse community of families with the resources they need to navigate parenting in the city. Expectant, new, and seasoned parents come to NPN to get what they need to tackle everyday challenges and surprises. NPN has been connecting Chicago parents for more than 30 years.
About South Side Parents – SSP seeks to strengthen and support concerned parents through the sharing of resources and experiences, as well as, highlight the importance of community involvement in improving and sustaining quality educational and enrichment opportunities for all children in the South Side of Chicago.
About Hyde Park Parent Support Network – PSN is a volunteer-run organization for parents of babies and young children from Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods. PSN offers a neighborhood playroom open year-round, a message board which provides a forum for parental topics, playgroups, and other activities. www.hydeparkpsn.org

Illinois ACT score remains at top of the class for states that test at least 90 percent of students

Posted by Admin On August - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

State posts long-term incremental growth                                                                                                                        

Springfield, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced the graduating Class of 2011’s composite ACT score is the highest of the 10 states that test 90 percent or more of their students. Additionally, Illinois’ composite score of 20.9 continues the state’s long-term trend of incremental improvement.

“The ACT is a benchmark that helps us determine if students are not just ready to enter college but to succeed there,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “As we move forward with our new more rigorous learning standards in Illinois, we expect that more students will be prepared to excel in college and careers. ACT data shows the importance of taking challenging core classes in high school for a smooth transition to college and beyond.”

Although ACT is designed for students who plan to attend college, Illinois requires all 11th graders, unless they’re exempt, to take the ACT as part of the required state testing under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Illinois’ composite average of 20.9 is the highest among the 10 states in which 90 percent or more graduates tested. Other states with 90 percent or more of their graduates taking the ACT include Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.

In 2011, 144,469 students included in the Class of 2011 took the ACT, up by nearly 4,000 students since 2008 when 140,483 students took the test. Illinois first required all students to take the ACT in 2001 as part of the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) during students’ junior year. Today’s results represent the latest scores achieved by all Illinois 2011 graduates in both public and private schools.

Illinois’ average ACT composite scores for the past five years has improved, rising from 20.5 in 2007 to 20.9 in 2011. Nationally, there has been a slight dip in the composite score from 21.2 in 2007 to 21.1 in 2011. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

Five-Year Trend Composite Scores

 

2007

2011

Illinois

20.5

20.9

National

21.2

21.1

The year-to-year composite score for Illinois students mirrored the national average with a slight increase from 2010 to 2011.

Year-to-Year Composite Scores

 

2010

2011

Illinois

20.7

20.9

National

21.0

21.1

Illinois students have made gains in all four subject areas from 2007 to 2011.

Five-Year Subject Area Scores

Subject

2007

2011

English

20.2

20.6

Mathematics

20.4

20.9

Reading

20.5

20.8

Science

20.4

20.7

In 2010, Illinois adopted the internationally benchmarked Common Core Learning Standards in English and Math for grades K-12. The Standards, written under the leadership of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) aims to better prepare students for college and career.

Two Charged With String of Forest Preserve Burglaries

Posted by Admin On August - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Two men have been charged in connection with a string of burglaries from vehicles that were parked at several South Suburban Forest preserves, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

In light of the thefts, State’s Attorney Alvarez is reminding residents who frequent the forest preserves to exercise caution and properly secure their vehicles before leaving them to use forest preserve facilities or trails.

Jaton Harris, 19, of Calumet Park, and Brian Payne, 18, of Hammond, IN, have been charged with four counts of burglary in connection with thefts from vehicles that occurred between July 27 and Aug. 8 in parking lots at three south suburban forest preserves in Country Club Hills, Midlothian and Oak Forest. Harris is also facing one count of Criminal Damage to Property for damaging a municipal water tank while police were pursuing him.

According to prosecutors, over the past several weeks Cook County Forest preserve Police had been investigating burglaries to vehicles in which the thieves would break the car’s window and take whatever valuables had been left inside.

As part of the investigation, Forest preserve Police set up a sting in which they left a purse in a car that was left parked in the Midlothian Meadows Forest Preserve. Police put the area under surveillance and observed the defendants drive up to the car, break the window and take the purse.

Police pursued the defendants, whose vehicle struck a fence and a municipal water tank before it was stopped and the defendants taken into custody. Police were able to link the pair to three additional burglaries that took place in Yankee Woods in Oak Forest, Midlothian Meadows in Midlothian, and Vollmer Woods Forest Preserves in Country Club Hills.

Both defendants appeared in court at the Markham Courthouse where Judge Darren Bowden set their bail at $5,000 each and continued their cases until September 7.

State’s Attorney Alvarez offered the following safety recommendations to residents who leave their vehicles to use forest preserve facilities and trails:

  • Always lock your car and take the key with you.  Don’t hide it in, near or around the outside of your car.  If you are going to be exercising and trying to minimize what you need to carry, take only the key that will unlock to door and tie it to your shoe or use a safety pin to attach it to your clothes.
  • Do not leave any items in plain view.  This includes cell phones, purses, wallets, water, towels, and extra clothing.  Store items out of sight by placing them in the trunk, glove box or completely under the seat.
  • Park your vehicle near the entrance to the forest preserve, near other cars or in a busy area of the parking lot.  Vehicles parked in remote areas are easier targets for thieves.
  • If you see someone suspicious walking around vehicles and looking in windows, do not approach them, call the police.

The public is reminded that charging documents contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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