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April , 2019
Saturday

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week's address, President Barack Obama highlighted two specific steps the ...
The petition to Congress reads: "The Supreme Court’s Shelby County vs. Holder decision completely gutted the ...
SPRINGFIELD, IL– Illinois State Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, passed legislation out of the House Human ...
 Says the wealthy must ante up   By Chinta Strausberg   Saying it’s time for the nation’s wealthiest people ...
A new HHS report finds that some families could save up to $14,900 a year, ...
Marc H. Morial's statement on recent developments in Ferguson, Mo. The death of Michael Brown has ...
  South Side Parents, Hyde Park Parent Support Network, and Neighborhood Parents Network jointly present a school ...
CHICAGO, IL - Most colleges are already in the full swing of ...
Business owners, residents, organizing for peace in Park Manor neighborhood   Wednesday, local residents and business owners ...
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) – At the end of the historic tenure of a black president ...

Archive for April 2nd, 2012

Attorney General Madigan: Illinois House passes Debtors’ Right Act

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Attorney General Madigan: Illinois House passes Debtors’ Right Act

Bill would ban practice of sending debtors to prison when they cannot afford to pay

 

SPRINGFIELD< IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan applauded House lawmakers for passing the Debtors’ Rights Act of 2012 to protect vulnerable consumers from being hauled to jail over unpaid debts.

Legislators voted 107-0-1 to approve House Bill 5434 to stop Illinois residents from being sent to jail when they cannot pay a debt. Over the last year, Attorney General Madigan has learned that residents in roughly a third of Illinois’ counties commonly face incarceration when they fail to appear in court in response to a previously entered order to pay a debt. Madigan’s office found that in many of these cases, the notices of the court hearings were mailed to addresses that were no longer valid, leaving many debtors unaware of the hearings. In spite of the failure to notify the debtors, courts frequently have issued bench warrants for the missing debtors’ arrests.

“Creditors have been manipulating the court system to extract money from the unemployed, veterans, even seniors who rely solely on their benefits to get by each month,” Madigan said. “Too many people have been thrown in jail simply because they’re too poor to pay their debts. We cannot allow these illegal abuses to continue.”

Madigan’s legislation will put an end to other common administrative abuses, including “pay or appear” orders that are routinely entered against debtors in some counties. These orders – which usually remain in effect for three years – give debtors the false option of making the required monthly payment or appearing in court each month to explain why they are unable to pay. If a debtor misses just one payment and court hearing, they can end up in jail.

Victims of these practices typically owe outstanding medical bills, rent payments, credit card debts or payday loans. But many of these same victims are living solely on income that is legally protected from being required to pay outstanding debt judgments, including Social Security, unemployment insurance or veterans’ benefits. Madigan said the legislation is necessary to implement protections for these vulnerable consumers.

According to court documents obtained by Madigan’s office, one Illinois court entered a “pay or appear” order against a mentally disabled man living on legally protected disability benefits that provided him with $690 a month. Even though the man informed the court of his circumstances, he was ordered to pay $100 a month or else appear in court once a month for a three-year period.   

“The fact that impoverished debtors can still go to jail in several Illinois counties casts a shadow on our entire state,” said state Rep. Ann Williams, the House sponsor of the bill. “As lawmakers, we have a duty to protect the due process rights of Illinois residents and to preserve the integrity of our legal system. This legislation serves both of those vitally important purposes.”

The legislation would amend the Code of Civil Procedure to codify and clarify practices followed by attorneys, creditors and courts across Illinois to ensure that courts make a finding of a consumer’s ability to pay before entering a payment order. The legislation also would prohibit payment orders that rely on legally protected income and assets and prevent bench warrants from being issued unless a consumer was personally served with a hearing notice.

Sen. William Haine is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate.

Alabama’s HB56 forces women to make an impossible choice

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Alabama’s HB56 forces women to make an impossible choice

By Elena Shore

New America Media

 

Fourteen-year-old Jocelyn wants to be the first person in her family to graduate. But now she may have to do it without the one person who most wanted to be there: her mom.

When Alabama enacted the nation’s toughest immigration law, HB 56, her mother was faced with an impossible decision: stay and live in fear; or flee back to Mexico, denying her daughter the education that she had sacrificed so much to give her.

Six months ago, Jocelyn’s mom decided to return to Mexico with her stepdad and three-year-old sister, leaving Jocelyn to stay in Alabama with an uncle.

“I don’t have her to wake me up every morning and tell me to do my best in school,” said the eighth grader, who said her mom had brought her to Alabama when she was six years old “for a better education and a better life.”

Jocelyn spoke to 17 women leaders from across the country this week, who traveled to Birmingham, Ala., as part of We Belong Together’s National Women’s Human Rights Delegation.

“Women and mothers around the country are hearing these stories,” observed Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum in Washington, D.C., and co-leader of the We Belong Together campaign. “And when they do, they have deep, deep, resonance.”

The delegation – made up of women from some of the nation’s leading social justice organizations, including the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the National Immigration Law Center – wrote a call to action in response to the stories they heard from Jocelyn and other immigrant women and girls.

In a statement released to national media Friday, during a telebriefing organized by New America Media and the We Belong Together campaign, they called on American women to join them in supporting the repeal of HB 56 and other “anti-immigrant, anti-family laws.”

Alabama’s immigration law, the delegates wrote, has created a climate of “fear, psychological abuse and torment” that has forced families like Jocelyn’s to make an impossible choice: “The reality is that for these women, the decision to leave or to stay here in their homes is an impossible weighing of unthinkable risks.”

But the law has also galvanized women across the state to the forefront of the civil rights movement here, with what the delegates called a “spirit of resiliency, courage, empowerment, and most importantly – love.”

Some local women have established their own human rights organizations in direct response to HB 56 in Tuscaloosa and other cities across the state. Others, like Faith Cooper, executive director of Central Alabama Fair Housing Center (CAFHC) in Montgomery, have joined in lawsuits challenging the law’s provisions.

CAFHC was one of several organizations that challenged a provision of HB 56 that made it illegal for undocumented immigrants to engage in business transactions with the state. This effectively made it illegal for mobile homeowners – many of whom are Latino families – to pay their required annual licensing fee. In November, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson found that state legislators had passed HB 56 “with racist intent,” and issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily keeping these families from losing their mobile homes.

HB 56 was “turning normal acts of everyday living into punishable offenses,” observed Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition on Human Needs, and one of the delegates who went to Alabama this week.

Cooper, who has lived in Alabama for 30 years, said she was “personally upset about how other women and families have been treated in this state … women who have had to find legal guardians for their children, people they don’t even know well, if they’re picked up by the police and have to leave quickly.”

Jocelyn, who is now living with her uncle, remembers when her mother first brought her to Alabama, telling her “all of this was going to be worth it someday.”

Now, she says, “I just want to be the first one [in my family to graduate] and be a role model for my little sister. I want her to come back and have an education.”

Watch video

Orrin Hudson to deliver special presentation at 6th Annual Black Male Summit in Akron, Ohio

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Orrin Hudson to deliver special presentation at 6th Annual Black Male Summit in Akron, Ohio

The summit will be held at the University of Akron, April 13-14, and other speakers include Dr. Randal Pinkett, Pastor R.A. Vernon, and Dr. Joseph White


Akron, OH (BlackNews.com) — The University of Akron’s Office of Multicultural Development will be hosting its 5th Black Male Summit on Friday and Saturday, April 13th and 14th. The event will be held in the university’s Student Union, starting on Friday at 12:00 p.m. and Saturday’s sessions will begin at 9:30 a.m.

One unique presentation will be provided by Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson as he brings his Atlanta-based Be Someone Inc. program to Akron for the two-day event. Hudson, a former Alabama state trooper who was at one time an at-risk inner-city youngster, uses the game of chess to teach life lessons. As Hudson instructs his students, for every move there is a consequence in the game of chess and so it is in life. One bad move without proper thought can be a game-changer.

Keynote speakers throughout the summit include author and reality TV show winner of The Apprentice, Dr. Randal Pinkett; Pastor of The Word Church in Cleveland, Pastor R.A. Vernon; and Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at The University of California Irvine, Dr. Joseph White, among many more.

Since its inception in 2008, the Black Male Summit has aimed at bringing important topics relevant to the success of African American males to the attention of education practitioners. This event was the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio and has been featured on CNN Headline News and other media outlets. Its notoriety has led to more than 1,000 participants over the two-day schedule. The Black Male summit features several key note addresses from some of today’s leading research experts on African American male success. More than 30 concurrent sessions will be offered with topics including retention and graduation, career and professional development, mentoring, health issues, fatherhood initiatives and identity and masculinity.

The summit is free for UA faculty, staff and students and $50 for non-university participants. All participants must register by March 31. To sign up, call 330-972-6446 or visit the University of Akron website at www.uakron.edu/omd/bms.

About Orrin Hudson and Be Someone Inc:
Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson, author of “One Move at a Time,” founded his non-profit organization Be Someone Inc to help at-risk youth make better life decisions using a very unusual tool: a chessboard. In 2001, Hudson learned of an incident in which seven New York Wendy’s employees were shot, five of whom died – for a mere $2,400. This tragic incident inspired Hudson to quit his job and use his life savings to found Be Someone.

Now, Hudson travels the country mentoring children to value KASH – Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits – over cash. Since its founding in 2001, Be Someone has touched the lives of over 20,000 students across the country and has had amazing success with increasing grade point averages, classroom participation and attendance through the mantras, “Brains Before Bullets; Think It Out, Don’t Shoot It Out; Heads up, Pants up, Grades up and Never Give up!” By 2017, Be Someone hopes to have made a difference in close to one million students’ lives.

For more information about Be Someone and Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson, visit www.besomeone.org.

To view Orrin’s recent interview on CNN, visit:
http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/living/2011/03/06/whitfield.chess.moves.for.life.cnn

Photo Caption: Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson, master motivator and mentor

 

Barclays Spaces for Sports extends global partnership with Beyond Sport

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Barclays Spaces for Sports extends global partnership with Beyond Sport

Barclays Spaces for Sports, a community-based sports programme which uses sport as a platform to help young people develop life skills and revitalise disadvantaged communities in a sustainable way,   has extended its partnership with Beyond Sport, the organisation which works to unearth, celebrate and support inspirational sports projects, people and organisations that drive positive change.

Barclays Spaces for Sports will continue in its role as Global Partner of Beyond Sport, extending an association that began in 2009 with the aim of furthering the use of sport as a tool for social development.

The cooperation between Barclays Spaces for Sports and Beyond Sport has centred around the Beyond Sport Summit and Awards – previously held in London, Chicago and Cape Town and returning to London this summer in the week before the Olympic Games – and the Beyond Sport Foundation, which supports outstanding projects all around the world.

Nick Keller, Founder of Beyond Sport, said: “Beyond Sport’s belief that the corporate world can bring about positive social change through sport is embodied nowhere better than by Barclays Spaces for Sports. For almost a decade the programme has provided a standout model of what true investment in this area can bring about. We are delighted to be continuing this partnership and look forward to seeing what we can achieve together in the years to come.”

David Wheldon, Head of Brand, Reputation and Citizenship, Barclays, added: “Barclays aims to play a broader role in the communities in which we live and work beyond what we deliver through our core business activities. Our community investment programmes, such as Barclays Spaces for Sports, help empower young people with the appropriate skills to become more employable and financially independent.  Our partnership with Beyond Sport is born of our joint recognition that sport can have a social impact at a local and global level. We are delighted to continue our partnership and increase the opportunities to celebrate, promote and drive forward sport-led social change.”

The renewal of the partnership comes with entries to the Beyond Sport Awards 2012 currently open. Designed to recognise and reward those individuals and organisations using sport to drive forward social change, the Beyond Sport Awards are made up of 12 categories covering the entire sporting spectrum of health, social inclusion, corporate and social responsibility, and team and federation community engagement. Entries to the Beyond Sport Awards close on April 6th.

For more information, visit www.beyondsport.org

Economic Empowerment Tour continues to help communities across America

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Economic Empowerment Tour continues to help communities across America

-The Optimum Institute of Economic Empowerment (OIEE) partners with George Soros Open Society Institute to Produce the “Less Talk… More Action Tour” in thirteen US Cities


New York, NY – Maintaining its momentum of the past few months, the “Less Talk… More Action” Economic Empowerment Tour (“LTMA”) is scheduled to visit Philadelphia during April with a further touchdown in Baltimore in May, followed by more venues in the coming months.

Intent on reaching out to minority communities countrywide and providing them with the planning tools and advice to enable them to make better financial decisions, extensive use is made of empowerment workshops conducted with the local communities. This tour, sponsored by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, and led by Ryan Mack (President of OIEE, Author, and National Media Commentator), focuses on using financial literacy as a primary tool of empowerment for African American and Latino communities.

“The tour, created in direct response to economic hardships faced by the African American and Hispanic communities because of a lagging economy, will traverse the US making stops in as many as thirteen cities and possibly more,” says Ryan Mack, President of OIEE.

He continues, “We have assembled a dynamic team of world-renowned experts to create tangible solutions to multifaceted economic hardships that continue to hurt minority communities. The tour will expand beyond the traditional definition of financial literacy to tackle pervasive issues within our communities that continue to plague our bottom line such as unemployment, incarceration, and education. Key elements such as credit repair, planning for retirement, budgeting, and other crucial/traditional measures of financial literacy all need a stronger presence if African Americans and Latinos are to advance economically.”

The tour kicked off on October 27, 2011, in New York, NY and made stops in Detroit, MI, Atlanta, GA, Minneapolis, MN, New Orleans, LA and, more recently, Jackson, MS. The next stop on the tour will be on Thursday, April 12 from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM. The town hall meeting will be held at the Community College of Philadelphia (1700 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130). As the name implies, the “Less Talk… More Action Tour,” offers tangible solutions to economically empower communities such as:

* Financial literacy workshops taught to hundreds of minorities in prisons, shelters, public housing residents, churches, unions, youth programs, and more throughout every city.

* Town hall meetings with the focus on highlighting the local experts who perform the work on the ground in each city with financial literacy, education, employment, and incarceration.

* One-hundred Black and Hispanic owned video testimonies on the “Less Talk… More Action” website (www.lesstalkmoreaction.info), which will highlight those businesses in the community worthy of support.

* The “Train the Trainer” program, which recruits at least 10 trainers in every city to use the curriculum to train others and ignite a movement of financial literacy discussions.

* The “Money Movement” (www.moneymovement.org) geared to merge financial literacy with popular culture while recruiting thousands of urban residents in every city to take the “pledge” to become fiscally responsible.

* A book, Never Going Back, which uses the testimonies of experts countrywide to empower incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals with the necessary tools to integrate back into society.

* A book, From Victim to Victory, which galvanizes Black financial experts countrywide to provide a tangible economic road map toward creating the next phase of the civil rights movement to be fought on the economic front.

* A book, Dollars and Sense filled with testimonies from educators countrywide that have achieved academic success despite harsh environments of the inner city neighborhoods. The purpose of this book will be to provide tangible proof of best practices for other educators to follow as a model as well as inspire others to infuse financial literacy into their curriculum.

As previously mentioned, the “LTMA” tour has assembled a dynamic team that has dedicated itself to removing the obstacles to economic empowerment within African American and Latino communities. Calling themselves, “Ambassadors of Action”, the following individuals with Ryan Mack will be present during all or most of the tour:

Ambassador of Financial Literacy – Manyell Akinfe, SVP of Optimum Capital Management, Creator of the Money Movement, and National Financial Commentator

Ambassador of Justice – Dr. Boyce Watkins, PHD in Finance, Financial Expert, Social Commentator, and Author

Ambassador of Employment – Andrew Morrison, Founder of Small Business Camp, Direct Marketing Consultant, and Author

Ambassador of Education – Dr. Chris Emdin, PHD in Urban Education, Director of Secondary School Initiatives for Urban Science Education Center at Columbia University, and Author

Additionally, in each city, the tour will be recruiting local volunteers, organizations, churches, corporations and other stakeholders to help energize the tour and ensure its success. Any groups, organizations, or volunteers interested in joining the effort should contact the offices of LMM Communications, Inc., at (414) 389-9906 or e-mail LMAXWELL@LMMCOMMUNICATIONS.com. In addition, any corporations interested in sponsorship or engaging their employees in volunteering for the tour should also contact the office for more information or visit the tour’s website at www.lesstalkmoreaction.info. Information on the tour can also be found on Facebook under “Less Talk…More Action Empowerment Tour Town Hall Meeting”.

About the Optimum Institute of Economic Empowerment
OIEE has a mission to create and implement tangible economic empowerment programs. As a change agent, OIEE will develop and administer programs that focus on teaching and increasing exposure to principles of financial literacy within communities of need. Working individually and in collaboration with other community constituents, OIEE believes that individuals, businesses, and communities can be educated to understand and adhere to those financial principles, which will serve as a solid foundation for future economic growth and sustainability.

Photo Caption: Ryan Mack, author, financial expert, and creator of the Less Talk… More Action Economic Empowerment Tour

 

Moms of men in Tamms Supermax stand up to AFSCME

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Moms of men in Tamms Supermax stand up to AFSCME

Action to close Tamms: “I am a mom” and “I am a man

 

Saying they support Governor Pat Quinn’s proposal to close Tamms Supermax prison, TY10, many moms of men in Tamms, Darrell Cannon, a Chicago Police torture survivor who was wrongfully convicted and served 23 years in prison (the last 9 in Tamms) before being exonerated, family members and other former prisoners will hold a march and press conference on April 4, 2012, Noon, at the James R. Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph St., on the anniversary of MLK’s death.  Families Say “The issue is human dignity, not jobs”

After the press conference, they will march peacefully from IDOC’s headquarters and governor’s office at the James R. Thompson Center over to AFSCME, Council 31, headquarters at 205 N. Michigan Avenue. The marchers will be led by moms, dads, sisters, and other loved-ones of men at Tamms.
 
In a statement by organizers of the march, they voiced support of Governor Quinn’s proposal to close Tamms supermax, stating that “the opponents to closure are the correctional officer’s union (AFSCME) and downstate legislators.

“Our march will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 44th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis, and commemorate his collaboration with AFSCME in the effort to win both worker’s rights and civil rights for striking sanitation workers. In doing so, we celebrate AFSCME’s progressive past and remind the governor, the Illinois Department of Corrections and the union that closing Tamms supermax is not about jobs, but about human dignity.” 

Marchers will carry signs that read “I AM A MAN,” first carried in Memphis, but here signifying that men at Tamms, and prisoners everywhere have fundamental human rights. Other signs will read “I am a mom” and “I am a son” to indicate that the families of men at Tamms are also devastated by the prison’s soul destroying regime of solitary confinement and sensory deprivation, stating that those most affected by the prison live in Cook County, not Southern Illinois.

Other signs will state:

People with signs that read:
I am a man (after the signs from the civil rights movement)
I am a mom (after the signs from the civil rights movement)
I am a Nun (we have some sisters with us!)
Torture is a crime not a career

My brother is a human being

My son is not a paycheck

We support unions that support human rights

Tamms shocks the conscience

Tamms destroys lives

Close Tamms

A healthy economy is not based on suffering

What would MLK do?

Also scheduled to be at the march are: Jean Maclean Snyder, Attorney
Laurie Jo Reynolds, Organizer, Tamms Year Ten
Professor Stephen F. Eisenman, Tamms Year Ten
  
TY10 is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization committed to closure of the supermax, and ending the use of long-term solitary confinement and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhumane forms of punishment and incarceration in Illinois. It was formed in 2008 on the tenth anniversary of the opening of Tamms and has worked with state legislators to reform, and now close the prison.

Parents: The missing engine behind school reform

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Parents: The missing engine behind school reform

By Khalil Abdullah

New America Media

A series of first-ever forums brought front line education reformers and community media representatives together in Atlanta, Memphis, Miami and New Orleans. The consensus was clear: improving schools is a civil rights issue but will become a movement only when parents are fully involved — and a movement in which media must play a more compelling role.

“It’s a right for the children to have an education,” said Elise Evans, co-chair of Southern Avenue Middle Charter School in Memphis. “It’s a civil right.” Her demand was seconded by Marleine Bastien, executive director of the Haitian Women of Miami, Inc., who questioned how parents could be adequately informed unless community media are fully engaged in covering education reform issues.

New America Media, a national consortium of ethnic news organizations, convened the forums to foster a better communication exchange between education reformers and news organizations serving communities most impacted by low-performing school systems. The results of the recently released NAM poll, which surveyed 1400 parents of K-12 students in eight southeastern states about the quality of their children’s education, served as the impetus to spark the symposium in each city.

Conducted in seven languages, the poll found parents overwhelmingly satisfied with the quality of their children’s education and with high aspirations that their children would not only attend college but pursue advanced degrees. However, the data show that six of the eight states surveyed are in the bottom half of math scores when compared to other states within the United States; seven are in the bottom half in reading. Yet, parents showed no sense of urgency or outrage. “How is it possible,” asked pollster Sergio Bendixen, “that parents seem to think the quality of their children’s education is okay?”

Though the poll did not include questions about where U.S. students ranked internationally, Bendixen’s presentation underscored the decline of America’s educational competitiveness by showing data that placed the U.S. students 18th in math, just behind Estonia, and, at 17th, trailing Poland in reading. Chinese students now hold the top spot in both categories. The U.S. rankings were markedly lower from only a few decades ago when the country ranked either number one or two respectively.

“The signals are starting to turn in the right direction in terms of how important the quality of education is,’ said Kent McGuire, president of the Southern Education Foundation. “We’re starting to appreciate that the competition is global in nature.”

Atlanta Forum Focuses on Undocumented Students

McGuire, who served as the lead-off panelist in Atlanta, the venue for the first symposium, urged parents to demand accountability and to “ask for the evidence” of whether the school system or purported reforms are working, particularly because of the demographics in the Southeast. “Kids of color are the ones we do the least well with,” he said, noting that their numbers will continue to grow.

Angelo Hurtado said the media could assist in dispelling stereotypes ethnic students often embrace about their inability to succeed. However, Hurtado, co-founder and vice president of H.O.P.E. (Hispanic Students Promoting Education, Inc.), said the most pressing issue for many of her peers was the looming passage of a state bill in the Georgia House that will mirror the Senate’s SB 458. The legislation would effectively bar undocumented students from receiving an education at Georgia’s public colleges and universities.

“Not only undocumented students are being affected by this, but documented students as well,” Hurtado said, explaining that, collectively, these students form one community. Other speakers in Atlanta also decried the legislation as short-sighted and contrary to the goals of education to yield productive members of society. Many in attendance agreed that the media should devote greater attention to the legislation and expand their coverage of education in Georgia.

William Teasley, Director of Evaluation and Research at Atlanta Education Fund, challenged ethnic media in particular to become advocates of education reform, in part because it “reaches audiences our traditional media and our traditional organizations have trouble reaching.”

New Orleans and Ethnic Media

Though reaching audiences remains an essential priority for all media, the resilience of ethnic media in New Orleans during and since Katrina in 2005 serves as a testament to the art of the possible. Yet, covering education reform there may prove as critical a role for a city experiencing profound changes in the redesign of its school system.

Panelist Neerav Kingsland, Chief Strategy Officer at New Schools for New Orleans, explained that 80 percent of the city’s students are now attending charter schools and student test scores, while not a comprehensive measure of success, are trending upward. In terms of academic achievement and preparation for careers, “10 to 20 percent of the open enrollment schools in the state are where we want them to be,” Kingsland said, but he was confident that within five years New Orleans schools would soon surpass the state’s in terms of performance.

Kingsland said it is useful to remember how far the school system has come, citing the travails of a New Orleans high school senior and valedictorian about ten years ago who had repeatedly failed the then-required 10th grade level math exit exam. “Those stories are increasingly few and far between,” he said.

Dr. Andre Perry, Associate Director for Education Initiatives, Loyola University, expressed concern about using test scores as a true measure of a school’s success. In his opinion, New Orleans schools have achieved only modest gains.

He was particularly adamant about the need for media to take the time to understand what data means in the context of quality of life issues. “If you increase test scores, what does it mean when you can’t get a job,” citing lack of access to transportation or other resources that often weigh heavily on a graduating student’s success.

“Wealth is a causal factor of educational achievement,” Perry argued, not just a correlation, explaining that parents of poor children can less afford books and other resources that could prepare and assist their children at an early age. In addition, he noted that the analysis behind education reform is often miscast as a black-white paradigm and that a media focused on closing the achievement gap will miss the real story, the goal of attaining excellence but one attuned to the cultures of communities. He asked how is it possible to read an article about “success in schools” in a local newspaper and “three kids murdered” in the same edition?

Success Stories in Memphis

At the Memphis forum, attendee Marcus Matthews, University of Memphis Coordinator of “Teen Appeal,” a newspaper written by and distributed to the city’s high school students, concurred that media’s role in helping parents understand data and context is crucial. As an example, he noted that some parents may not know that the ACT exam, a test that measures college readiness, is not scored on a scale of one to a hundred. He recalled a student who scored a 26 on the ACT but, when Matthews asked him about attending college, said, “I haven’t applied.” Matthews said it was plausible “that the parents may be thinking, ‘26 out of a 100, that’s an F.’” On the ACT scale of 36, a score of 22 in math and 21 in reading indicate college readiness.

Matthews said the media can help assist in finding and documenting the lives of young adults who have the academic capacity to pursue higher education but who never did: “We don’t know where they are; we don’t know what they’re doing,” but media also should tell their audiences about the individual success stories of Memphis city school graduates.

Similarly, Paris Byrd, a high school student in Memphis said it is important that media seek out the opinions of students who are “experts on their own education; that’s not being paid attention to.”

The City of Memphis is slated to merge its public school system with the county’s public schools. More than a few panelists and attendees said the media will play an even more vital role in explaining the issues at stake to parents given the scale and complexities of the impending union, especially for immigrant parents who may be unfamiliar with the American public education system, much less the key elements of education reform.

Mark Sturgis, Memphis Director, Stand for Children, said, “Media has a moral responsibility around this issue to advocate for a system to provide equity and equality for all children, and, if the media is not doing that, it’s a problem.”

College, Job Readiness at Issue in Miami

At Miami Dade College, which also served as the host for the concluding symposium, Lenore Rodicio, Executive Director of MDC3 Student Success and Completion Initiatives, captured part of the disconnect between the expectations of parents in the NAM poll and their children’s capacity to perform academically upon graduating high school.

She said more than 70 percent of students coming to Miami Dade for their first year of study are “testing as deficient in one or more academic areas and the greatest number of them is in mathematics.” However, she said the recognition of the need for reform has brought elected officials together with business and community leaders to find ways to address education in ways that will enable graduates to be better prepared for the jobs available.

Several panelists, however, stressed that collaboration alone, though useful, will be insufficient in addressing the myriad number of issues that impact education. For panelist Lucie Tondreau, a parent who represented the Haitian community, the failure to pass the DREAM Act results in the inability of many teens from her community to have the legal means to pursue higher education. “Those minds are being wasted,” she said.

The Miami dialogue highlighted several issues on display at the other symposia, including the need for more adequate and better directed funding for education as well as the call for media to hold education administrators more accountable to the public. McNelly Torres, Co-Founder & Associate Director of Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, agreed with those objectives but said that media’s unique role in explaining the need for education reform could only be achieved by media accurately reporting on what’s going on in the schools, talking to students and to parents as well. “You need,” she said, addressing media members directly, “to be out there on the battlefield.”

To read more about the poll and the roundtables, please click here.

Quick tips for hiring a home contractor – Know the red flags

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Quick tips for hiring a home contractor – Know the red flags

 

(From the Better Business Bureau)

 

 

CHICAGO, IL – Whether you are looking to have your home windows replaced, new siding installed on your garage or a pool built for the summer months ahead, it’s always important to find a home contractor that you can trust. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) recommends the following smart shopper checklist before choosing a contractor for your home.

 

The BBB has received 327 complaints for general contractors during this most recent 12 month period compared to 275 for the previous 12 months or an increase of 19%. We received 85,038 inquiries for this 12 period compared to 68,398 for the previous 12 months or an increase of 24%.

 

“You want a home contractor you can trust, so watch out for red flags from those just looking to make a quick buck,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “Be especially wary of doing business with a contractor who solicits business door-to-door. This could mean that the contractor is not from a local, established business, and is instead just passing through and trying to scam consumers.”

 

The BBB advises consumers to do the following before choosing a home contractor:

  • Be picky and have several options. Seek at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced contractor may not be the best. Get free quotes from BBB Accredited Businesses at www.bbb.org
  • Make sure they are licensed and insured. Consumers should ask whether the company is insured against claims covering workers’ compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Consumers should obtain the name of the insurance carrier call to verify coverage. Ask whether the contractor meets licensing and bonding requirements set by the state, county or city. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed before proceeding with the work. The contractor also should be aware of any required permits.
  • Get everything in writing. Ask whether the contractor will provide a lien waiver upon completion of the job. A lien waiver is a statement by the contractor that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work. Read and understand the contract before signing. Get all verbal promises in writing. Include start and completion dates in the contract. Illinois law requires that a contract be written
  • Remember the rule of thirds and follow it. Pay one third at the start of the project, one third when work is 50 percent completed and one third after completion.

For FREE Business Reviews on general contractors in northern Illinois, visit www.bbb.org

 

Madigan announces charges in Chicago Identity Theft Schemes

Posted by Admin On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Madigan announces charges in Chicago Identity Theft Schemes

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced charges against six Chicago area people for criminal identity theft enterprises that amassed nearly $300,000 in fraudulent charges.

“Identity theft is a serious crime that has lasting consequences, both for the perpetrators, who will face time behind bars, and for their victims, who will spend years trying to rebuild their financial security,” Madigan said. 

In the first case, defendants Frederick Jones, 27; Clarissa M. McGlothin, 32; Tennineil D. Smith, 36; and Danielle Glaze, 31, were arraigned today in Cook County Criminal Court on a multi-count indictment of Class X identity theft and Class 1 financial institutions fraud. A fifth defendant, Delonda Glaze, 31, who is Danielle’s twin sister and previously was charged by Madigan’s office in a separate identity theft case, was also arraigned today on new charges of Class X identity theft for her part in the scheme.

Madigan alleged the five defendants conspired in a scheme that used stolen identities to take out phony vehicle loans through a number of banks. After receiving individual checks for as much as $40,000 each, the defendants deposited the sums into a bank account controlled collectively by them for personal use. In total, Madigan alleged that the defendants obtained $252,900 through six fraudulent car loans in the scheme. The defendants face anywhere from six to 30 years in prison.

In a separate, unrelated case, Madigan announced identity theft charges against defendant Isabella Nartey, 30, of Oak Forest, for using stolen identification to illegally transfer $40,500 from a victim’s bank account. Nartey first transferred the funds into an E-trade account she controlled and then moved the money again into her own personal bank account for personal use. Nartey was arraigned last week in Cook County Criminal Court on identity theft, financial institution fraud and wire fraud charges. She faces four to 15 years in prison.

The case against the first five defendants was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the sixth by the U.S. Secret Service and referred to Madigan’s office for prosecution. Assistant Attorneys General Anshuman Vaidya and Paul Bervid are handling the cases for Madigan’s Financial Crimes Bureau.

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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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