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Archive for January 20th, 2012

Sec'y of State Jesse White moves to toughen penalties for Fraud and Abuse of Disability Parking Program

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 Names former U.S. Dept of Transportation Secretary Sam Skinner to Subcommittee to Review Program


Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White moved to toughen penalties for those who abuse parking privileges designed to assist persons with disabilities. White initiated the action at a public hearing at the first meeting of his Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety – a committee to make Illinois roads safer, reduce traffic fatalities and to consider increased penalties for those who blatantly disregard traffic laws.

White also established today a subcommittee to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the state’s Parking Program for Person’s with Disability.White tabbed former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Sam Skinner to serve on the committee. “The goal of the subcommittee is to eliminate fraud and misuse, and to ensure that disability parking spots are available for those truly in need,” said White

The traffic safety committee approved White’s recommendations to strengthen the penalty for using a placard and/or disability license plates in which the person is now deceased, which under current law falls under the category of general misuse of a placard or plate.  The new proposal creates a new offense for this egregious act, making it a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries a minimum one-year driver’s license revocation and a $2,500 fine.  In addition, the license suspension periods for general misuse of a disability license plate or placard will be increased from 30 days to a six-month suspension for a first offense; from six months to a one-year suspension for a second offense, and from a one-year suspension to a minimum one-year revocation for a third offense.  A license revocation requires the offender to meet with a Secretary of State Administrative Hearing officer at the end of their revocation period before driving privileges may be restored.

“The message we are sending is simple: if you don’t belong there, don’t park there,” said White.  “Stronger penalties will hopefully make people think twice before they deprive a person with a disability from using a disability parking spot.”

The Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety consists of ten members, including: White as chair; Representatives John D’Amico (D-Chicago) and Mike McAuliffe (R-Chicago); Senators Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero) and Darin LaHood (R-Peoria); Anne Schneider, Secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation; Mike Witter, Regional Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Commander Jay Keeven, Illinois State Police; John Ulczycki, Vice President, National Safety Council; and Ray Bradford, Executive Director, Northwestern University Center for Public Safety.

“My mission as Secretary of State is to make the roads of Illinois as safe as possible,” said White. “We have made great progress over the last twelve years to position Illinois as a national leader in traffic safety.  For instance, teen driving deaths are down by 50 percent since we strengthened the state’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) law, and drunk driving fatalities have dropped by 38 percent since 1999. Yet I believe we can do better, and I am confident the efforts of the Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety will lead to safer roads and fewer fatal crashes.”

White said the Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety and the Subcommittee on Parking Program for Persons with Disability will hold future meetings beginning this spring at locations throughout the state.

U.S. Senators Kirk, Menendez set expectations for Treasury Department’s implementation of Central Bank of Iran Sanctions

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 WASHINGTON, DC – As the Obama Administration prepares to unveil rules that will guide the implementation of Central Bank of Iran (CBI) sanctions mandated by the Menendez/Kirk amendment, United States Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presenting the legislative intent of language in the amendment.  Sens. Menendez and Kirk authored the amendment that passed the Senate 100-0 on December 1, 2011. 


Since becoming law, the CBI sanctions have produced significant results, including a 25% decline in the value of the Iranian Rial, indications that Japan, South Korea, and India are contemplating reductions of their Iranian oil purchases, and even China negotiations for significant price reductions.


In their letter, the Senators wrote, “We understand that the Administration is drafting rules to guide the implementation of the law and we hereby seek to convey the legislative intent underlying certain terms and phrases in the amendment and to ensure that the positive developments that have occurred as a result of the amendment are buttressed  by the administrative rules.”


The full text of the Menendez/Kirk letter appears below. 


January 19, 2012


The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner


Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20220



Secretary Geithner:


On December 1, 2011, the U.S. Senate passed the “Menendez-Kirk” amendment to impose crippling sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran by a vote of 100-0. 


Since the amendment was signed into law by President Obama on December 31, 2011, the new law has produced significant results, including a 25% decline in the value of the Iranian Rial, indications that Japan, Korea, and India are contemplating reductions of their Iranian oil purchases, and that China is negotiating for significant price reductions.  We are also anticipating a vote by the European Union later this month approving an Iranian oil embargo and sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran.   We recognize the multilateral diplomacy initiative that the Administration has undertaken to convey the effect of the law on foreign nations and financial institutions and particularly, to encourage the production of non-Iranian crude oil alternatives critical to our ability to isolate Iran.


We understand that the Administration is drafting rules to guide the implementation of the law and we hereby seek to convey the legislative intent underlying certain terms and phrases in the amendment and to ensure that the positive developments that have occurred as a result of the amendment are buttressed  by the administrative rules.


Knowingly Conducted or Facilitated Any Significant Financial Transaction:


Menendez-Kirk targets foreign financial institutions that “knowingly conduct” a “significant” transaction with the Central Bank of Iran.  These phrases were also used in the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA).  In its rule implementing CISADA, the Administration defined significant transactions broadly to be determined at the Treasury Secretary’s discretion based on a range of criteria, including: (a) Size, Number, and Frequency; (b) Nature;  (c) Level of Awareness; Pattern of Conduct; (d) Nexus; (e) Impact; (f) Deceptive Practices; and (g) Other Relevant Factors.  Rather than setting an actual dollar amount as a floor, the broader definition allows the Administration to consider even small amounts to be “significant” depending on the situation. 


With regard to “knowingly,” CISADA defines this to mean constructive knowledge – a higher standard than actual knowledge.  Under this standard, the Administration must consider whether an institution should have known it was making prohibited transactions, not just whether it actually knew at the time. 


For both “significant financial transaction” and “knowingly conducted,” we expect CISADA to serve as the baseline standard for the rule implementing Menendez-Kirk.


Strict Conditions:


Under Menendez-Kirk, if a foreign financial institution violates the law, the President shall “prohibit or impose strict conditions” on that institution’s correspondent and payable-through accounts in the United States.  In its rule implementing CISADA, the Administration defined strict conditions to include: (1) Prohibiting any provision of trade finance through the correspondent account or payable-through account of the foreign financial institution; (2) Restricting the transactions that may be processed through the correspondent account or payable through account of the foreign financial institution to certain types of transactions, such as personal remittances; (3) Placing monetary limits on the transactions that may be processed through the correspondent account or payable-through account of the foreign financial institution; or (4) Requiring pre-approval from the U.S. financial institution for all transactions processed through the correspondent account or payable through account of the foreign financial institution.  We expect CISADA to serve as the baseline standard for the “strict conditions” imposed under Menendez-Kirk.


Significantly Reduced its Volume of Crude Oil Purchases from Iran:


One of the most important definitions to be determined by this rule will be the standard by which a foreign country may qualify for an “exception” to the imposition of sanctions with regard to oil transactions.  Under the statute, the President may extend this “exception” if a foreign government with jurisdiction over financial institutions conducting petroleum transactions with the Central Bank of Iran has “significantly reduced its volume of crude oil purchases from Iran.”  This exception must be renewed every six months with the foreign country required to demonstrate it has met the same standard over the preceding six-month period.


There are two important points to note here.  First, the Administration could be flexible in its interpretation of “crude oil purchases” to place the emphasis on the word “purchases” rather than the phrase “crude oil.”  This would allow a significant reduction of “crude oil purchases” to apply to the bottom line amount of money a country sends to the Islamic Republic of Iran for the purchase of oil.  Such reductions could be achieved by a reduction in crude imports (barrels per day) and/or price discounts provided by the Iranians.  In the end, a successful sanctions policy will be judged by its impact on the Iranian “bottom line” – driving its net oil revenues down regardless of its actual supply of oil to the market.  We support this approach rather than limiting the interpretation to reductions in the quantity crude imports alone. 


Second, the Administration might be tempted to leave the phrase “significantly reduced” as a broad term subject to the discretion of the Treasury Secretary on a case-by-case basis (similar to “significant financial transaction” discussed above).  This could allow for a range of criteria to be assessed, including whether the reduction was “significant” to a given country given that country’s current economic situation or energy-source diversity.  It is our position, however, that circumstances, if extreme, that limit a country or a financial institution’s ability to comply with the significant reductions called for by the amendment should not be considered in this context, but rather addressed through the amendment’s national security interest waiver provision.  To ascribe more variable terminology to the definition of “significantly reduced” would diminish the ability of countries’ to understand and comply with the amendment.  An unevenly applied interpretation would also call into question the seriousness of the sanctions policy and send mixed signals to both Iran and our allies.


The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), in consultation with leading energy analysts, has recommended that the Treasury Department define “significant” as a minimum of 18% in purchase reduction (total price paid; achieved through price discounts and/or import reductions) on an annualized basis.  This would match the expected reduction in Iranian oil revenue due to the decline in its domestic production capacity.  Senators Menendez and Kirk concur with FDD’s recommendation.


National Security Waiver:


Another critical piece of the rule is the national security waiver.  Under Menendez-Kirk, “The President may waive the imposition of sanctions under paragraph (1) for a period of not more than 120 days” if the President “determines that such a waiver is in the national security interest of the United States” and submits a report to the Congress with a justification and concrete cooperation received or expected to receive as a result the waiver. 


We interpret this language to mean that a national security interest waiver should be required for each foreign financial institution found in violation of the law, including a description of the receipt or expectation of benefit/cooperation in return for waiving sanctions on an individual institution. 


It was not our intent that the term “waive the imposition of sanctions under paragraph (1)” as meaning only one waiver is needed to waive the imposition of all sanctions.  In other words, with one report to Congress, the President could decide that no institution will be subject to sanctions for 120 days, regardless of how many institutions are in violation. 


We would welcome an opportunity to discuss these points with you prior to the publication of the final rule for the Menendez-Kirk amendment. 




Robert Menendez             Mark Kirk

US Senate                          US Senate

Bishop Jerry L. Jones holds grand opening for $20 million senior housing complex

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS
Jones: ‘From ashes come new life for West Pullman”
By Chinta Strausberg
Bishop Jerry L. Jones, president of the Brownlow, Belton, Sullivan & Arms, a non-for-profit organization, recently held a grand opening ceremony for the official opening of the seven-story,  $20 million Hancock House senior complex, an idea which began 25-years ago as the dream of three missionaries one of whom is still alive today.
The dedication of the 89-unit building was held at 12045 S. Emerald St., Chicago, IL in the West Pullman community. The housing project started out as an idea among three missionaries, Hattie C. Brownlow, Mother Essie Belton and Dr. Lula Mae Sullivan who were 25-years younger at the time.
They were visionaries armed with just a dream, a lot of prayers but no funds. Ironically, Belton passed away on the same day the deal closed for the senior housing project. Dr. Sullivan, the lone surviving member of the trio, Thursday gave the invocation for the opening of the senior complex.
With the seed already planted by the three missionaries, Bishop Jones, who is the Secretary General of Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith Apostolic Assembly of the Lord Jesus Christ, was determined to make their proposed senior housing dream a reality. It took him five-years and a lot of help from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) along with President Barack Obama’s stimulus package to finalize the quarter-of-a-century dream.
Overwhelmed at the turnout for the event, Bishop Jones, a former Chicago Fire Department official, said, “Already, we have 25 residents in our apartments,” he told the crowd. “All I can say is hallelujah, thank you, Jesus.”
He also thanked many officials who helped him complete this project including: Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), former Illinois President of the Senate Emil Jones, Jr., Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-2nd), Cook County Comm. Deborah Sims, James Wezlarz, manager of Multi-Family business Development from IDHA who also represented Gov. Pat Quinn, and Clare Leary, affordable housing city finance manager from the Department of Housing and Economic Development. Jones also thanked developer Brigite Grossman from the Swan Lake Company.  “She helped to developed the dream,” said Jones.
One of the state founders is Bishop D. Raford Bell who secured the 501-c-3 and who was the auxiliary bishop of the Missionary Department. “This was important because without it we would not have been qualified for the funding of this project.”
“Without them, we would not have been able to do this because we did not have any land,” said Jones giving a special thanks to Ald. Austin for her cooperation and city resources.
“We named this building after Samuel Nathan Hancock who founded the Pentecostal Church of the Apostolic Faith in 1957. This senior housing building is considered one of the three wonders of the South Side of Chicago,” said Bishop Jones.
Explaining, he said the senior building is located near the new Salvation Army Center that is being erected on 119th Street. It is also near the largest solar field located at 120th Street near Ashland and it too is new. Jones said the three “wonders” of the West Pullman community are giving hope to a renewed community.
Bishop Jones led a tour of the Hancock House. “We have a wellness center, which includes exercise,” he told the visitors, “and there is a community room where our residents can prepare their own lunches. We have a large atrium, a laundry room on each floor, and parking for the seniors.
“And, the Hancock House is located next to the Metra train. We have security, maintenance, and a building engineer to maintain the facility and to provide safety for the seniors,” Jones said proudly. “I thank God that we were able to take land, a vacant lot for the past 40-years, and give life to a community in need of affordable housing,” he said.
“And, while many temporary jobs were created in building the Hancock House, we have created 12 permanent jobs and that is a blessing,” he said of the cream-colored, Terra Cotta-colored building.
“For those who didn’t believe we could do this, all I have to say is truth crushed to the ground shall rise again, and in this instance, the Hancock House is that truth. It represents the vision of the three missionaries who planted the seed for this project 25-years ago, and it is a symbol of what can happen if you just have the faith of a mustard seed.”
“Yes, this has been a very challenging project and the location of the Hancock House has a very troubling history.” He was referring to September of 2009, when honor student Derrion Albert was beaten to death. The crime was captured on cell phones and shown around the world. “What followed in the community was a kind of gloom and a kind of morbid spirit in the area. It was a very vicious attack against another one of our brightest students,” said Jones.
“But, it was almost as if God decided to remedy that tragedy with the Hancock House, this fabulous, unbelievable new building of new life. Our residents come from various walks of life. Our community needed this desperately. The Hancock House represents not just new life and a symbol of hope for tomorrow,” said Jones. “The Hancock House represents that energy.”
“We are proud that it also has the latest cutting edge technology. Everything is first class. It looks like the Hyatt Regency, and it was completed right on time; that is just weeks before the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who in the 1960’s came to Chicago fighting for open housing,” a beaming Bishop Jones said.
Jones, a former firefighter who once put out fires, today sets souls afire in the pulpit but also is busy building new life in a community beset with crime and neglect.
“This is a new season, a new spirit of celebration and it happened on the first day of snow for Chicago. There’s so much symbolism here. It is truly overwhelming,” Jones said looking proudly with awe at the new senior complex building. “From ashes come new life,” he said.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.



Interfaith Committee of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) statement against Mayor Emanuel sponsored ordinances restricting First Amendment rights

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 1 COMMENT

As part of the pressure campaign to stop Mayor Emanuel from restricting the freedom to assemble, the Interfaith Committee of CANG8 circulated the following statement to faith leaders in the Chicago area.  The letter with the signatures of 35 prominent ministers and faith leaders was presented to Mayor Emanuel’s office Wednesday morning, January 18th, just prior to the opening of the City Council meeting.

The Interfaith Committee intends to continue to gather the support of faith leaders to defend the right to protest war and austerity. 

 The Petition:

A Petition to the Government for Redress of Grievances

WHEREAS the founders of our American democracy, when debating the freedoms that should apply to “we the people,” rejected the proposal that these freedoms be “tolerated,” and affirmed that these freedoms are “rights – even unalienable rights – that the government must always honor; and

WHEREAS the Bill of Rights – not the Bill of “Toleration” – of the United States Constitution places the freedom of religion first, but associates it with the essential freedoms of speech, of the press, of peaceable assembly, and of petition the government for redress of grievances; and

WHEREAS religious leaders and their communities have a long and continuing tradition of defending these essential and interconnected rights whenever the government has sought to compromise or deny them as a means of exercising control, exploiting fear, and imposing unreasonable physical and expressive restrictions on persons and groups; and

WHEREAS the political and community leaders of the City of Chicago have determined that benefits will be realized by inviting the G8 and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to hold their scheduled summits in May of 2012 in the City, and that these invitations have been accepted; and

WHEREAS the political leaders of the City of Chicago have now used the occasion of the forthcoming summit meetings of the G8 and NATO to rewrite and make significantly more restrictive and oppressive those ordinances applying especially to the freedom of speech and the freedom of peaceable assembly, and to threaten and intimidate with massive police action, arrest, and exorbitant fines those who are planning to assemble and speak in protest against the policies and actions of the G8 and NATO as well as other matters of national and international concern; and

WHEREAS these political leaders of the City of Chicago have taken steps to unreasonably limit the hours and places for free speech and peaceable assembly during the G8 and NATO summits, including spaces that are officially acknowledged to be “public” in character, and even to discourage non-protesting persons, groups, and institutions from their presence in these public areas; and

WHEREAS, we as leaders of faith communities of the greater Chicago region and other parts of the country have a religious and public responsibility for demanding that political and community leaders meet their assigned duties ethically, legally, and in keeping with the Constitution of the United States of America;

WE, therefore, the undersigned religious leaders petition the Mayor of the City of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, and members of the City Council, to cease and desist from the enactment of any and all laws and ordinances, policies and practices that, in word or in spirit, violate, compromise, and undermine the clear and consistent meaning of the United States Constitution and it Bill of Rights.

Petition signatures

(Institution/Religious affiliation is for identification purposes only)


The Rev. Thomas Aldworth, Pastor, Morgan Park Baptist Church, Chicago

The Rev. Luis Alvarenga, Iglesia Unido de Cristo, Berwyn

The Rev. Jacki Belile (ABC – USA); Founder and Director, Living well Ministries

Fr. Bob Bossie, SCJ

John Cassel, First Church of the Brethren

Joyce Cassel, First Church of the Brethren

The Rev. Ann Coburn, Episcopal Church

Dr. Pauline Coffman, Middle East Task Force of Chicago Presbytery

The Rev. Daniel Dale, Senior Minister, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Chicago

The Rev. William Exner, Vice-Chair, National Executive Council, Episcopal Peace Fellowship

The Rev. Sarah Fisher, Rector, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Chicago

The Rev. Dr. Cotton Fite, Priest Associate, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Evanston

The Rev. Lee A. Gaede, Deacon, St. Giles Episcopal Church, Northbrook

Dr. Linda Gaither, Chair, National Executive Council, Episcopal Peace Fellowship

The Rev. Larry Greenfield, Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago

Dr. Marshall Elijah Hatch, Senior Pastor, New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church;  The Leader’s Network,  Chairman

Rafeeq Jaber CFP, Treasurer, Civil Rights Education Center

The Rev. Damon R. Jones, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Berwyn, American Baptist Churches of  Metro Chicago

The Rev. Jackie Lynn, Executive Director, Episcopal Peace Fellowship

The Rev. Loren McGrail, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Chicago

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair, Board of Parliament of World Religions

The Rev. Emeka P. Nwachuku, Vicar, St. Andrew’s Pentecost Episcopal Church, Evanston

Fr. Robert H. Oldershaw, Pastor emeritus, St. Nicholas Parish, Evanston

Ahmed Qadeer, Co-Vice Chairman, DuPage United Secretary, Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association (NILA), Ex-President, Islamic Center of Naperville)

The Rev. Bonnie  Perry, Rector, Rector/Senior Pastor, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Chicago

The Rev. Primitivo C. Racimo, Vicar, St. Margaret of Scotland Episcopal Church, Chicago

The Rev. Elizabeth Ritzman, American Baptist Churches, USA

The Rev. Dr. Douglas R. Sharp, Interim Minister, Lake Street Church of Evanston, American Baptist Churches, USA

Swami Shraddhananda, Yoga Chicago (magazine)

Mr. Newland Smith, Librarian Emeritus, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary

The Rev. Dr. Jerome A. Stone, Evanston

The Rev. Linda Tossey, Pastor, Community Baptist Church, Warrenville

The Very Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer, Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Chicago

The Rev. Robert T. Yeager, Oak Park

Lt. Gov. Simon to colleges: Focus on the finish

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Math, transparency key to increasing completion rates


CHICAGO, IL – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon urged education leaders to adopt a reform package that aims to increase the number of Illinois community college students who graduate within three years of enrollment.

“Our request of community colleges is deceptively simple: Help more of your students finish what they start,” Simon said. “As a state, we must stay focused on the finish.”

 In a new report issued today by Simon, she states that four out of five recent high school graduates who enroll in Illinois community colleges do not complete a certificate or degree within three years.

“We’re doing a good job of getting all types of students into the doors of community colleges. But now we need to do a better job of moving them across the stage at graduation with a certificate or degree that leads to a good-paying job here in Illinois,” she said.

The report argues one reason students take longer to graduate – or drop out altogether – is that they are not prepared for college-level work. Almost half of recent high school graduates test into remedial courses, and most of those incoming freshmen struggle with math, Simon said.

“We have more than 142,000 unfilled jobs in Illinois right now, but thousands of people are looking for work,” Simon said. “That doesn’t add up to a strong economy. We need to better prepare employees for the workforce, and that starts with sending students to college ready to learn.”

Simon serves as Governor Quinn’s point person on education reform. In her first year in office, she conducted a fact-finding tour of the state’s 48 community colleges to learn how the state can work with schools to increase completion rates and connect students to the workforce.

“Higher education is critical to ensuring that Illinois continues to compete and excel in the global economy,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “I applaud Lt. Governor Simon for visiting each and every one of our community colleges last year and producing this report. By putting our community colleges front and center and focusing on preparing our students for a 21st century workforce, we can create more jobs, attract more employers and continue to grow the economy in Illinois.”

A former law school professor at Southern Illinois University, Simon said she chose community colleges as her focus because they enroll more students than public universities in Illinois, but produce fewer graduates. Community colleges need to shift their focus to completion for the state to meet the demand for middle and highly skilled workers, she said.

Simon’s report to the Governor and General Assembly, released today in conjunction with her first address at the City Club of Chicago, outlines several reforms that could improve student success rates while using existing resources. To move forward successfully, Simon identified two critical areas for education in Illinois: improved math instruction and transparency.

“Lt. Governor Simon sent a strong message to the higher education system by taking the time to visit every community college in the state during her first year in office,” said Alexi Giannoulias, chairman of the Illinois Community College Board. “We will work with her to improve learning, build stronger ties to the business community and blur the lines between high school, community college and university.”


More Math

Illinois requires high school students to complete three years of math to earn a diploma. This means many incoming high school freshmen at community colleges have taken a year’s vacation from math – and it shows. More than one out of three recent high school graduates test into at least one remedial math course at Illinois community colleges, and some require several semesters of these developmental skills courses. 

The problem is that these remedial courses take up students’ time and money, but do not count toward degrees or certificates. The longer it takes for students to complete meaningful coursework, the more likely they are to drop out or incur debilitating debt.

Simon recommends a three-pronged math reform package: (1) High schools should voluntarily require four years of high school math; (2) high schools and community colleges should partner to offer dual credit mathematics courses to all high school juniors and seniors; and (3) community colleges should redesign remediation to embed skills development into credit-bearing courses.

She is asking the Illinois State Board of Education to begin tracking high schools which voluntarily require four years of math, and is seeking researchers to track if the added year reduces remedial needs.

“Our priority is to prepare students to succeed in college and careers, and we know that the skills businesses want from an employee and what is needed to be college ready are very similar,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We’ve already adopted new college-ready learning standards so it only makes sense to also evaluate our high school graduation requirements to make sure they’re aligned with college expectations as well to give students a better chance to succeed after graduation.”


 Report Cards

For more than a decade, Illinois elementary and high schools have been required to publish annual school report cards illustrating the proportion of students who meet grade level skills. Not so for higher education institutions — and that should change as the state shifts to a focus on completion, Simon said.

The state’s top education advisory body, the P-20 Council, has adopted a completion goal: 60 percent of working-age adults (25-64) holding a degree or certificate by 2025. The state is moving in the right direction. Illinois was at 41.3 percent in 2010, up from 40.8 percent in 2008, according to the Lumina Foundation’s analysis of census reports.

Beginning next year, community colleges should be more transparent about student success rates and progress toward the completion goal, Simon said. She proposes a two-page consumer report card be published by each college showing the number and percentage of students finishing courses, certificates, degrees and transfers.

“Tracking and reporting the progress toward our completion goal will raise the profile of community colleges and the role they play in our state’s jobs recovery,” said Miguel del Valle, chairman of the P-20 Council. “Annual college report cards can be an important tool in engaging students, educators and taxpayers in our pursuit of a highly educated workforce.”


Performance Funding

Simon said one of her recommendations is expected to be incorporated in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. She is a member of the Performance Funding Steering Committee that is devising a system to tie a portion of state higher education funding to student success rates.

Currently, the funding mechanism for community colleges considers mid-term enrollment, rather than the number or proportion of students who pass a course or earn a credential. She favors a funding system that “focuses on the finish,” and says it should be phased in over time.

“The university and community college systems are working with Lt. Governor Simon to better measure and reward success at each of our unique institutions,” said George Reid, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and leader of the performance funding committee. “We will continue to foster this relationship and share information to ensure transfer students are prepared for university work and graduates are ready for the workforce.” 

Next Steps

 Simon said the next step is for her office to work with stakeholders to introduce legislation where needed and to work with higher education governing bodies on reforms at the administrative level. She expects bills to be introduced later this month when the General Assembly returns to Springfield.


State looks to students to help spread digital safety message

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS


State Education Superintendent Koch, Illinois Attorney General Madigan and Lt. Governor Simon focus on teaching children safe choices in ‘digital world’


SPRINGFIELD, IL –The Illinois State Board of Education, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Lieutenant Governor’s Office launched the third statewide Illinois Youth Digital Safety Contest to raise awareness about making safe and respectful choices through digital communications. The contest, open to students in grades kindergarten through 12, encourages students to create posters or electronic messages addressing this year’s theme “Bystander Intervention,” or the idea that students who witness bullying can take action against it.

“It’s important that we raise awareness that all forms of bullying, and perhaps especially online bullying, is harmful and that we can all play a role in ending it,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “This contest can serve as one way of discussing online challenges and situations so that all our students can act safely and responsibly in the digital age.”

Students in any public or non-public district can enter the contest by submitting an entry as a poster or in an electronic media format (video, podcast or slideshow). Districts must have all entries mailed to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and postmarked by March 30, 2012.  Representatives from all three sponsoring government agencies will judge submissions.

Winners will be announced later in the spring and will be honored at a State Board of Education meeting and at an award ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion. Winning entries will be shared on participating school and state websites. More about this year’s contest rules, terms and conditions, can be found at:  http://www.isbe.net/spec-ed/html/internet_safety.htm.

“This contest can spark honest and thought-provoking discussions in the classroom that may lead to more mindful online behavior,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Simon. “Students can help each other develop their sensibilities so that online bullying becomes completely unacceptable.”

Under state law, school districts are required to incorporate Internet safety education at least once each school year beginning in third grade. Each local school district determines how to include Internet safety lessons into the classroom. Some recommended topics such as the safe and responsible use of social networking websites, chat rooms, bulletin boards and other means of communication on the Internet. It is also recommended that instruction includes information on recognizing, avoiding and reporting online solicitation by sexual predators, recognizing and reporting online harassment and cyberbullying and knowing the risks of transmitting personal information on the Internet.

Attorney General Madigan’s Office offers age-specific Internet Safety Training Modules for educators that meet state law requirements. The Attorney General’s Internet Safety Training Modules can be found on her website at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov, or on ISBE’s website at www.isbe.net. 

Attorney General Madigan emphasized that while technology opens opportunities, it also creates risks. Cyberbullying and online harassment are now the most common online risks to children. One in three teens reports having been harassed online, according to the Pew Research Center. 

“I encourage students all across Illinois to get involved in this contest and use the power of art to share their thoughts and feelings about online harassment,” said Attorney General Madigan.  “Just their participation alone can help get other kids talking about these issues and could pave the way for greater understanding and solutions.”

Attorney General Madigan’s Office has provided Internet safety training and education to more than 202,810 parents, teachers, and students and 14,788 law enforcement professionals since 2006.

 Madigan also hosts a website to help children, teens, parents and educators learn about the dangers of cyberbullying. The “Stop Cyberbullying” website (www.ebully411.com) includes the latest news and statistics, frequently asked questions and a quiz to test online users’ knowledge about cyberbullying. It also features an E-Info Hotline to assist victims and teach bullies to understand the impact of their actions. More information is available by calling the Hotline at 1-888-414-7678 or by e-mailing e-info@atg.state.il.us.

Sixteen students who earned first place in the 2011 competition were honored last year for work that focused on thinking critically about the ethical opportunities and challenges of the digital world.

Dr. Nancy J. Williams inspires others to reach their highest potential

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS


National (BlackNews.com) — Dr. Nancy J. Williams (also known as just Dr. Nancy), holistic healing doctor & CEO/Visionary of First Fruit Natural Healing Home, had a fear of heights, so she tackled that fear head-on by jumping out of a plane. “Initially it’s one of the most fearful and terrifying feelings you can have, hanging off the wing of a plane and then your instructor instructs you to let go,” she explains. “But once your parachute opens and you are gliding, you feel a peace and internal stillness come over you.”

That wasn’t the first time Nancy faced down her fears and took a leap of faith. She worked for nearly 20 years as an air traffic controller, becoming the first African American female to be certified at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Although she was earning six figures, Nancy walked away from her corporate job to follow her path of divine purpose.

“I was going through a time with a lot of stress, sickness, and depression,” she says. “I started learning about the holistic approach to wellness and applying that to my own life.”

After discovering how to start healing her mind, body, and soul, Nancy made it her mission to help others do the same. She established her healing home on five beautiful acres located in Lithonia, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. Nancy is also a motivational speaker, educator, and author. In addition, she hosts her own radio show on Love860, Mondays and Wednesdays from 2pm – 3pm.

“I’ve seen people go from sickness, depression, stress, frustration, and a lack of _ nances to a life of joy, peace, happiness, and prosperity,” Dr. Nancy says. “It’s very fulfilling to see that transformation take place. People are created for greatness. As long as there is breath in their lungs, it’s never too late to change what they’re doing and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.”

For more information, visit her web site at www.DrNancyJWilliams.com or contact her at 770-484-4745.

Photo Caption: Dr. Nancy J. Williams

Restaurateur Josephine “Mother” Wade among eight outstanding local women entrepreneurs to be honored by Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. during TLOD’s 9th Annual Jewel Awards

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS


The Lincoln Park Chicago Chapter (LPCC) of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. (TLOD) presents its 9th Annual Crown Jewel Awards to outstanding local women entrepreneurs on Saturday, January 28, 2012, in the Grand Ballroom of the Martinique, 8200 S. Cicero, Burbank, IL.  There will be a silent auction at 11:30 a.m. and the program will start at Noon.  Tickets are $50.00 and should be reserved in advance.

Since 2004, LPCC has presented the Crown Jewel Awards in recognition of exemplary service rendered in the area of five major thrusts.  These honors are bestowed at a luncheon which serves as the chapter’s annual fund raiser to generate funds to provide scholarships for graduating seniors, enhance the status of women, improve the quality of life of senior citizens, beautify the community, and strengthen community partnerships.

This year’s honorees are:

Shirley A. Calahan – Funeral Director and Embalmer, owner and Vice-President of Calahan Funeral Home, Inc.

Catherine Celimene – Owner, “Children’s Rendez-Vous”, an Academic After School and School Day Off Camp Program.

Angela Gordon – CEO, Gordon Dental Associates, Ltd., specializing in general dentistry, especially providing oral health for school-aged children.

Maggie Miller – Owner, “Saca-Tash Boutique”, an upscale women’s clothing salon which provides personal services to women of all ages.

Brenda Palms-Barber – Founding Chief Executive Director,  North Lawndale Employment Network, a transitional jobs program that finds employment for those formerly incarcerated.

Collette McCree Renfro – Designs and customizes dollhouses and room boxes and owns the Blackberry Harvest Museum Dollhouse Shoppe in Homewood, IL.

Beverly M. Rockymore – Created a catering business called “Gourmet Soul” for Food Cooked with Soul and Love.

Josephine Wade- Smith – Founder, “Josephine’s Hardtimes Cooking Restaurant” specializing in Soul, Cajun and Continental Cuisine.

Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. (TLOD) is an international, professional humanitarian, 501c3 organization with a membership of over 25,000 women who have dedicated their talents, skills, and resources to serve their communities.

For reservations or more information about the event, contact Dolores Tolliver, (312) 583-0595 or Monica Jones, (773)505-3568.


Father Pfleger, Senator Collins urge all to see the historic ‘Red Tails’ movie

Posted by Admin On January - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS
 RIps Hollywood producer for turning thumbs down on film 
By Chinta Strausberg
Father Michael L. Pfleger and Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16th) called on the black community to see the “Red Tails” movie produced by George Lucas that documents the historic WW II Tuskegee Airmen starring Gerald Lee McRaney and David Oyelowo—a movie that showcases the history of black men who won against many odds.
Collins said, “This is telling the history of heroic African American fighter pilots who through their sheer strength and sacrifice were able to surmount racial barriers to succeed against the odds. It’s an authentic American story about perseverance and patriotism.  I would hope that all young adults who view the movie would aspire to achieve the same spirit and standards of excellence exemplified by the courageous Tuskegee airmen.
Pfleger is offended that Hollywood producers reportedly said they could not support this movie because they could not get funding for this movie and that they did not know how to market an all-black film. He says the argument is specious because “they don’t have a problem marketing Tyler Perry movies.
“We are the country that celebrates our vets. When our soldiers come home, there’s a big parade; well, this is a movie about soldiers, veterans; so why can’t they support this movie”? asked Pfleger.
“Encourage your friends to see this movie.,” Pfleger said urging all to go and see “Red Tails” “and prove Hollywood wrong.”
It is also fitting that the movie is coming out 11-days before Black History Month. It’s an opportunity for parents to bring their children to see “Red Tails” and to learn how before 1940 blacks were denied the right to be trained as combat flyers in the U.S. military and to see how this all-black squadron changed history by forming the Tuskegee Airmen who made a huge difference in WW II and opening the door to equal opportunities in the military.
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.


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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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