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SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan applauded the Illinois Senate’s Public Health ...
Settlement with Madigan, Attorneys General & CFPB Prevents Future Resales by Debt Buyers, Targets ...
Criminals Looking to Steal Your Money Through Promises of Love and Companionship Via Money Transfer ...
NIJC Offers Information, Reassurance to Communities CHICAGO, IL — Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice ...
YAM President questions future of America By Chinta Strausberg To commemorate the 46th death ...
The deadline to apply is May 31, 2013 Nationwide -- The Shawn Carter Scholarship ...
The New Series Highlights Financial Planning and Education to Help Consumers Achieve Financial Freedom ...
  The Commissioners of the US major leagues came together to showcase their commitment to the ...
JEANETTE RANKIN WOMEN'S SCHOLARSHIP FUND GIVING SCHOLARSHIPS TO LOW INCOME WOMEN Deadline to apply is ...
BALTIMORE — The NAACP, the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, along with other prominent African-American ...

Archive for December 17th, 2013

Black Girls disproportionately confined; Struggle for dignity in Juvenile Court Schools

Posted by Admin On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Monique W. Morris

Nationwide, African American girls continue to be disproportionately over-represented among girls in confinement and court-ordered residential placements. They are also significantly over-represented among girls who experience exclusionary discipline, such as out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and other punishment. Studies have shown that Black female disengagement from school partially results from racial injustices as well as their status as girls, forming disciplinary patterns that reflect horrendously misinformed and stereotypical perceptions.


While academic underperformance and zero tolerance policies are certainly critical components of pathways to confinement, a closer examination reveals that Black girls may also be criminalized for qualities long associated with their survival. For example, being “loud” or “defiant” are infractions potentially leading to subjective reprimanding or exclusionary discipline. But historically, these characteristics can exemplify their responses to the effects of racism, sexism, and classism.


More than 42,000 youth were educated in “juvenile court schools” located in California correctional and detention facilities in 2012, according to the California Department of Education, and a disproportionate number of them were Black girls. In the state’s 10 largest districts by enrollment, Black females experience school suspension at rates that far surpass their female counterparts of other racial and ethnic groups. Little has been shared about these girls’ educational histories and experiences inside the state’s juvenile correctional facilities or out in the community.

As a response, I conducted an exploratory, phenomenological, action research study that examined the self-identified, educational experiences of Northern California’s Black girls in confinement using in-depth interviews and descriptive data analysis, among other research activities. The study revealed the following about the educational experiences of confined Black girls in Northern California:

  • They value their education. Ninety-four percent of the girls in this study reported their education to be either very important or important to them, and nearly as many said their education was equally as important to their parents or guardians, where applicable.
  • They have a history of exclusionary discipline in their district schools. Eighty-eight percent had a history of suspension, and 65 percent had a history of expulsion from non-juvenile court schools; half cited elementary school as their earliest experience with suspension or expulsion.
  • They experience exclusionary discipline while in detention, too. Almost all had been removed from a juvenile court school classroom, and one-third of these girls believed it was because they simply asked the teacher a question. Two-thirds reported it was the result of “talking back” – but in each case, the student felt she was responding to an unprompted, negative comment made by the teacher. One participant recalled, “She called me retarded in front of the class…I have a learning disability.”

  • They have missed a lot of school. The majority reported having recently missed at least 2 weeks of instruction. Among these girls who missed significant portions of school, 36 percent had removed their court-ordered electronic monitoring device and/or were “on the run” and avoiding a warrant for their arrest. Fourteen percent cited prostitution as a major deterrence from attending or participating in school. For 18 percent, mothering a child under the age of 3 years old made attending school difficult. Over half reported they had been expelled from or had “dropped out” of school.
  • They have drug use and/or dependency issues. Almost all of the girls in this study admitted to a history of smoking marijuana, and 65 percent reported doing so at or just before going to school. Among these girls, 64 percent reported their teachers knew they were high in class – all said there was no action taken by the school.

  • Many of them lack confidence in their teachers. Nearly 60 percent reported a lack of confidence in the teaching ability and/or commitment of at least one instructor in their school, and almost half perceived a teacher routinely refusing to answer specific questions about the material they were learning.

  • They are not engaged. The majority found the coursework to be too easy and perceived it as below their grade level.

  • Their school credits do not transfer seamlessly between juvenile court schools and district schools. Most reported a prior experience in the juvenile court school where this study took place. Among these girls, 57 percent believed that the credits they earned while in detention had not transferred appropriately to their district school; the majority were unsure of their credit status.
  • They have goals, but they don’t know how to reach them. Eighty-eight percent had ideas of their occupational goals, with one-third indicating they would like to be a staff counselor at the juvenile hall. However, 73 percent felt their education was not preparing them for their future.

This study’s findings show where future research and advocacy efforts might better interrogate the effects of inferior and hyper-punitive nature of these schools.

Notwithstanding their status as “juvenile delinquents” with significant histories of victimization, these girls tended to find a potentially redemptive quality in education. Though most of the girls in this study did not consider their juvenile court school to be a model learning environment, they generally agreed these schools occupy an important space along a learning continuum that has underserved them. For many of these girls, the figurative lacerations from bureaucratic and ethical failures may leave lasting marks.


While our ultimate goal is to prevent more girls from being educated in correctional facilities, these schools should be included in the conversation about equity, not only because are they structurally inferior and failing to interrupt student pathways to dropout or push-out, but because there is a moral and legal obligation to improve the quality of education for all youth – even those who are in trouble with the law. We must continue to explore ways for access to quality education in these facilities more equitable, while improving the rigor of the curricula, such that it is trauma-informed and culturally competent. We must also examine ways to facilitate a seamless reentry of these girls back into their district schools and home communities.


Thurgood Marshall wrote in Procunier v. Martinez (1974), “When the prison gates slam behind an inmate, he does not lose his human quality; his mind does not become closed to ideas; his intellect does not cease to feed on a free and open interchange of opinions; his yearning for self-respect does not end; nor is his quest for self-realization concluded.”


It is a long-standing American value that education is a potential tool to restructure social hierarchies and elevate the conditions of historically oppressed peoples. However, current trends in the administration and function of the juvenile court school may exacerbate many pre-existing conflicts between Black girls and teachers and/or the structure of learning environments. The limitations and challenges of these conditions may nullify the opportunities for improved associations between Black girls, school, and academic performance – antithetical to the stated educational goal of the juvenile court school.


If we can improve the accountability and performance of these schools alongside their district counterparts, we will inevitably move toward a more comprehensive approach to reducing the impact of policies and practices that criminalize and push girls out of school. We will, in essence, begin the process of maintaining her human quality – an essential component of her successful rehabilitation and re-engagement as a productive member of our communities.

A more detailed version of this article was published in the latest issue of Poverty & Race

www.prrac.org. Monique W. Morris, Ed.D. (info@moniquewmorris.com) is the co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (blackwomensjustice.org) and author of Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century. (The New Press, January 2014). America’s Wire is an independent, nonprofit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Our stories can be republished free of charge by newspapers, websites and other media sources.

For more information, visit www.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at mike@frisbyassociates.com.

Photo Caption: Monique W. Morris

State Urges Caution towards Medical Cannabis Clinics

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Regulators file formal complaint against Chicago doctor

CHICAGO, IL – As the State of Illinois prepares to implement the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (Act), the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) urges both physicians and members of the public to be cautious about setting up or visiting so-called “medical cannabis clinics.”

“Unlike some states, Illinois law does not allow for ‘medical cannabis clinics’ or practices that exist solely to offer cannabis certifications,” IDFPR Acting Secretary Manuel Flores said. “We want to make sure that patients who would truly benefit from the relief of medical cannabis are not misled and physicians are not violating the law.”

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act does not take effect until January 1, 2014 and rules for administration of the Act have yet to be finalized. The rules will not be adopted until the winter of 2014. Any entity or individuals touting their ability to help with compliance with the Act or offering services in furtherance of obtaining medical cannabis before rules are adopted should be treated with extreme caution.

The Act only permits a physician who has a bona fide physician-patient relationship and is treating the patient’s qualifying debilitating medical condition to certify them for use of medical cannabis. A physician may only accept payment from a patient for the fee associated with the required medical examination prior to certifying a patient for use of medical cannabis.  Physicians cannot accept payment for the certification itself.

There is no specialty in medicine that treats all the various qualifying debilitating medical conditions listed in the Act. This means that one physician could not properly treat all patients eligible to use medical cannabis. Additionally, IDFPR would not consider a physician to be treating a patient for a condition if the only treatment being provided is a written authorization for the used of medical cannabis.

Any physician advertising as a “medical cannabis clinic” will immediately fall under the Department’s scrutiny. It may be appropriate for a specialist who treats one or more of the debilitating medical conditions to advertise that they are open to providing written authority. But, it is not appropriate for a physician to advertise that the purpose of the clinic is to provide such written authorization.

As evidence of the state’s vigilance with respect to medical cannabis, today IDFPR filed a formal complaint against Dr. Brian Murray, charging him with violating the Medical Practice Act while attempting to set up a medical cannabis clinic.

The complaint alleges that on the day Dr. Murray opened the ‘Good Intentions’ clinic, he and a coworker were offering potential patients ‘pre-approval’ to obtain medical cannabis if they paid a $99 registration fee. Under the Medical Practice Act, such conduct is unprofessional as it is misleading.

During an on-site investigation of the clinic, IDFPR investigators found evidence of activity that appeared to be violations of the Medical Practice Act and, once the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act takes effect, would violate that law as well.

A copy of the complaint can be found at IDFPR.com.

Author aims to create student millionaires

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Every young adult a millionaire!

Author Rich Patenaude simultaneously launches “The Student Millionaire” and website

New York, NY (BlackNews.com) — “This Christmas season, give the gift that lasts a lifetime,” says Rich Patenaude. “Give a young adult you know the recipe to become a millionaire.

If a young adult today wants to become a millionaire but doesn’t know where to begin, The Student Millionaire is the place to start,” says Patenaude. “The recipe for becoming a millionaire from scratch is the same for everyone,” says Patenaude. “The path may be different, but the principles are the same.”

“Our motto is ‘Every Young Adult a Millionaire’,” says Patenaude. “We just need to show our young people the way.”

“Whether it’s Madam C.J. Walker or Oprah, the principles for achieving wealth and success are the same,” says Patenaude. “These principles are not rocket science. Some of them have been around for a very long time. They are just not taught in our schools.” says Patenaude. “The school system does its best to prepare us for jobs and careers in the marketplace. But schools do not teach us that expecting to be a Millionaire is as normal as expecting to graduate from High School,” says Patenaude

The Student Millionaire is a guide for young adults to find their path to their first million dollars. Rich Patenaude teaches young adults how these principles work together to bring about a million-dollar goal. Patenaude’s wealth blog for young adults along with the book appear on The Student Millionaire website at www.TheStudentMillionaire.com.

Mr. Patenaude is available for interviews and appearances and can be reached at 240-731-5900.


About Rich Patenaude
Rich Patenaude started his career as a New Hampshire State Legislator at the age of 24. During his second term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Mr. Patenaude joined The Carter Presidential Campaign. After a successful campaign tour of 13 Congressional Districts in seven states, Mr. Patenaude was appointed to the Department of State in the Carter Administration. Following his tenure as Co-Publisher of American Politics Magazine, Mr. Patenaude joined the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and subsequently the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) upon successful completion of his MBA. In 2012, Mr. Patenaude retired from the World Bank in Washington. D.C.

NAACP congratulates Michelle Howard for being named first Four-Star Female Admiral

Posted by Admin On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

BALTIMORE, MD – The NAACP is proud to congratulate Michelle Janine Howard on her nomination by President Barack Obama for appointment to the rank of admiral and assignment as vice chief of naval operations. This appointment will make Howard the first female four-star Admiral.

In February, Admiral Howard received the NAACP’s Chairman’s Award during the 44th  NAACP Image Awards.

“This is a historic and well-deserved appointment for Admiral Howard,” stated Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “Admiral Howard serves as a true inspiration for women, particularly women of color, in the military and across the nation. We look forward to her continued service to our country as a four-star admiral.”

On March 12, 1999, Howard became the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy.

From May 2004 to September 2005, Howard was the commander of Amphibious Squadron Seven.  Deploying with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5, operations included tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and maritime security operations in the North Arabian Gulf.

Vice Admiral Howard is the recipient of several awards for her service.  While serving on board Lexington, she received the secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award in May 1987.  Howard is also the recipient of the 2008 Women of Color Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Career Achievement Award, the 2009 Dominion Power Strong Men and Women Excellence in Leadership Award, and the 2011 USO Military Woman of the Year.

Common Core – Closing the Math Achievement Gap

Posted by Admin On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Common Core -- Closing the Math Achievement Gap

New America Media
By Peter Schurmann

SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. students’ poor showing in international rankings of math proficiency signal a growing barrier to upward mobility for the nation’s low-income and minority students. Some go so far as to call math the new literacy tests of our generation.

Advocates of the new Common Core State Standards, however, argue their adoption could help close that gap and bring some equity to the math landscape.

Professor Judit Moschkovich teaches math education at the University of California Santa Cruz. She says the new standards will help change the way math is taught in classrooms around the country, making instruction both more relevant to students and aligning it with how math is taught in countries outside the United States.

“What you test is what you get,” says Moschkovich, pointing to the assessments designed for the CCSS. “Assessments lead curricular reform,” she explains. “By changing the assessments, you change the curriculum … and teachers are grounded in curriculum.”

Moschkovich notes that America’s longstanding problem with math is tied in large part to a longstanding pedagogical attitude here that attaches little importance to preparing math instructors.

“I have people who apply to the secondary [teaching] credential who have never had a math class in college,” says Moschkovich. “Something is wrong in terms of the perception that you can teach high school math if you took high school math. This started way before the Common Core.”

The new standards, she explains, attempt to strike a balance between teaching computational skills, on the one hand, with a conceptual understanding of the mechanics at work. “This is what other countries have been doing and is partly why they do better on international comparisons.”

According to the latest PISA (Program for International Students Assessment) study, released by the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), U.S. students ranked 23rd out of 26 developed economies in math proficiency. The survey, conducted every three years, looks at math and literacy skills in 64 countries.

In the United States, low income and minority students – many of them African American and Latino – have traditionally fared the worst when it comes to math, putting them on the lowest rung in an area deemed crucial to academic advancement and access to higher paying jobs.

According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 11 percent of African American students in California tested proficient in eighth grade math, while only 15 percent of Latinos tested proficient. That compares to 42 percent for white students.

In the California State University (CSU) system, 83 percent of African American students and 75 percent of Latinos who enrolled last year were placed in pre-college level math courses, according to a study put out by the advocacy group Campaign for College Opportunity. In community colleges, 85 percent of incoming students were assessed as being unprepared for college-level math. Only one-in-five, the study shows, will go on to complete either a vocational or associates degree.

California adopted the CCSS in 2010, joining 44 other states and the District of Columbia. It is now in the process of developing computer-adapted assessments – called the Smarter Balance – expected to be in place by 2014. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown set aside some $1.25 billion for implementation of the CCSS, including enhancement of school technology and teacher development.

Not everyone is optimistic about the change.

Dianne Resek is professor of mathematics at San Francisco State University. A veteran of the so-called “math wars” – a two-decade old debate over just how math should be taught in schools – she says the new standards set teachers and their students up for failure.

“My problem with the CCSS is that it’s list of concepts of skills … [have] taken us way back to a mile wide and an inch deep” by introducing a “laundry list” of skills that teachers have to cover. In low-income schools, particularly, she says the high teacher turnover rate means students end up with inexperienced math instructors who won’t be able to meet that challenge.

She also echoes other critics of the CCSS, who say the standards introduce concepts to students before they are cognitively ready. “So for example, in kindergarten, [the CCSS] has kids counting to a hundred. And if you come to kindergarten and haven’t counted much before, that’s a huge leap and you’re not going to catch on.”

The worry, she says, is that for traditionally underperforming students the CCSS will only widen an already yawning achievement gap.

Those concerns were fueled by the release of test results in states like New York and Kentucky, early adopters of the Common Core, which showed a sharp drop in test scores even among students that had traditionally done well in math.

Moschkovich says the problem in those states was that they introduced the assessments before making sure teachers were adequately prepared.

“Changing the test without changing instruction and expecting students to do well is stupid. You have to first change instruction,” she says, “then pilot the test. Don’t make it high stakes until instruction has changed.”

Changing instruction is exactly what Jim Ryan, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Executive Director for the San Francisco Unified School District, has been focused on.

“We are offering a great deal of professional development for CCSS implementation,” he says. “We are working with all schools that have come forward, and we continue to solicit more time and effort to work with teachers.”

Much of that work has gone toward developing a new curriculum for the math portion of the CCSS, which Ryan says will be introduced in 2014.

In the meantime, he says he is confident the new standards will help “narrow and hopefully bring together the discrepancy that we see now” in math scores. “The old standards were very algorithmic,” he notes. “Students had to learn processes and rules for how to solve for equations and variables, but it was very procedural. The students who didn’t learn those rules well continued to flounder.”

With the Common Core’s emphasis on conceptual understanding, alongside procedure, Ryan says teachers can now employ various approaches to math instruction that “meet the needs of students at all levels.”

New book “Single.ology 101” gives lesson of love and pampering to singles

Posted by Admin On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Author Stephanie Singleton Launches Book and Pamper Day Giveaway


Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) — Author Stephanie Singleton announces the release of her first book Single.ology 101: 8 Basic Steps to Enjoying the Single Life, and a Valentine Day contest for singles “A Pamper ME Day…for You!”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau as of 2012, there are 112 million unmarried people over the age of 18 in the U.S. This represents nearly 47% of the adult population. Additionally, as of 2010, these unmarried households were 45% of all U.S. Households. “Having read those statistics, and never being married myself, (hence the last name) is what moved me to write Single.ology 101,” says Stephanie.

To enter the contest inquiries are asked to visit the website and submit 100 or less word essay, explaining why they deserve to be pampered for Valentine Day. One deserving individual will be chosen to receive an autograph copy of her book, Single.ology 101, along with both a movie and dinner gift for two. The winner will be announced, January 31, 2014 midnight.

“This online contest has been created to promote my new book, as well as help individuals beat singleness, by delivering a message of self-love, self -empowerment, and self-forgiveness,” says Stephanie.


About “Single.ology 101”
Single.ology 101 is a self-help book for both men and women that help individuals struggling with feeling lonely, or abandoned, while being single – whether by choice, divorced, widowed, or perhaps while in a committed relationship, or marriage. Single.ology 101 is now available online at Amazon.com or www.Singleology101.webs.com.


About the Author
Stephanie, who was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. Currently she resides in Burbank, CA as author, playwright and hairstylist within the entertainment industry. She is working on her upcoming web-comedy Single.ology 101 – The Stage Play, a spin off from her book to be broadcast live April 5th 2014 from the famous Acme Theatre in Hollywood, Ca. For more information, visit www.Singleology101.webs.com

Photo Caption: Bookcover

Hip-Hop Artists Convene and Collaborate for “B-Real” Presented FREE Feb. 17–Mar. 1 by The Dance Center

Posted by Admin On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Expanding and elaborating on its presentation of hip-hop artists in February 2014, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, partnering with the college’s School of Fine and Performing Arts and Radio Department, continues its 40th season with “B-Real: A Look Inside Urban Movements,” a convergence of local, national and international hip hop and house dance music workshops, performances and conversations taking place February 17–March 1.

“‘B-Real’ is a constellation or workshops, classes, performances and conversations orbiting around The Dance Center’s 2013–14 40th season presentations of Compagnie Käfig, a hip-hop ensemble from France with a cast of Brazilian dancers, and Philadelphia breaker Raphael Xavier,” said Dance Center Executive Director Phil Reynolds. “The two-week series of events will provide Chicago artists and audiences multifaceted opportunities to explore and engage in urban dance forms.”

The schedule of events is as follows:

Monday, February 17, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave.
DanceMakers session featuring Mourad Merzouki, artistic director of Compagnie Käfig; The Dance Center’s new DanceMakers series features leading contemporary dance artists offering insight into their choreographic process. Pre-registration is required at colum.edu/Dance_Center/performances/dancemakers/

Tuesday, February 18, 6–11 p.m., Stage Two, 618 S. Michigan Ave.
A “One-on-One B-Boy Battle” with dancers from Compagnie Käfig

Friday, February 21, Stage Two, 618 S. Michigan Ave.
•  12 noon –2 p.m.: “B-Boys B-Men: Moving With/In Our Masculinities,” a panel conversation featuring Compagnie  Käfig Artistic Director Mourad Merzouki; Philadelphia hip-hop artist Raphael Xavier; and Moncell “ill Kozby” Durden of Rennie Harris Puremovement and Mop-Top Crew, moderated by Dance Center Chair Onye Ozuzu
•  2–3 p.m.: Breakin’ Workshop with Raphael Xavier
•  3–4 p.m.: Funk & Ol’ School Hip Hop Workshop with Moncell “ill Kozby” Durden

Saturday, February 22, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Stage Two, 618 S. Michigan Ave.
Symposium: “Dance Music Evolution: The History of House Music in Chicago,” sponsored by the Modern Dance Music Research and Archiving Foundation in collaboration with Columbia College Chicago’s Radio Department and the Honey Pot Performance Group. The symposium is curated by DJ Charles Matlock, archivist Lauren G. Lowery and scholar and dance performance artist Meida McNeal, with panelists and other events to be announced shortly.

Monday, February 24, 6–10 p.m., 1104 S. Wabash Ave.
Rap Battle with Raphael Xavier

Saturday, March 1, 3–5 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
AMPLIFY, a teen-oriented open-stage dance gathering with Raphael Xavier

All events are free and open to the public. Call 312-869-8330 or visit colum.edu/dancecenter.

Performances

In addition to participating in “B-Real,” Compagnie Käfig performs a double bill of Correria and Agwa, which grew out of an encounter with a group of Brazilian dancers from Rio de Janeiro’s neighborhoods and showcases their dazzling virtuosity in a combination of samba, hip hop and capoeira dance styles. Performances are February 20–22 at The Dance Center. Raphael Xavier performs The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance, an evening-length autobiographical dance continuing Xavier’s 30 years of experience in hip-hop genres—most specifically, breaking—directed by Ralph Lemon. Performances are February 27–March 1 at The Dance Center. For information and tickets, call 312-369-8330 or visit colum.edu/dancecenter.

Funding

The Dance Center’s presentation of Compagnie Käfig is funded, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew Mellon Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council and General Mills Foundation. Special thanks to the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago. The Dance Center’s presentation of of Raphael Xavier is funded, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

Endless opportunities to keep children’s minds active during winter break

Posted by Admin On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Ideas and tips for families to foster continued learning and skills practice at home

SPRINGFIELD, IL – As the holidays approach, nearly two million Illinois public school students will take a much-deserved break from school to recharge at home with their families. Just because students are out of school, however, does not mean that learning needs to stop. There are a number of ways to keep children’s minds active and foster learning outside of the classroom.

“The upcoming break allows children to sharpen the skills they have learned in school thus far,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “At the same time, there are a number of teachable moments in holiday activities that can further learning and ensure that children don’t miss a beat when they return to school in January. Learning should always be fun, especially during this time of year.”

Students can easily brush up on their reading, math, and science skills while partaking in fun activities that embrace both winter and the holiday spirit.

Reading and English Language Arts

A great way to foster reading over break is to take a family trip to the local library. If children do not already have their own library cards, sign them up for one and encourage them to check out both fictional and non-fictional books. Informational books on topics such as snow and the water cycle, penguins, the Iditarod sled dog race, and Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa might be especially engaging for children at this time of year. Biographies or newspaper articles about famous winter Olympians from Illinois (e.g., gold medalist speed skaters Bonnie Blair of Champaign and Shani Davis of Chicago and gold medalist figure skater Evan Lysacek of Naperville) could peak children’s interest this winter as well.

Parents should encourage children to read every day over break for at least 30 minutes. For younger children, read to them for at least 15 minutes every day and have them read to you for equally as long. Children will be more inclined to read if it is a family endeavor, so set aside daily quiet reading time for the entire family.

Often times, connecting with family members can be a learning opportunity in disguise. Pam Reilly, the recently named Illinois Teacher of the Year, suggests visiting with grandparents or other older relatives to receive a mini history lesson—without students even realizing it. “Ask relatives how Christmas has changed or stayed the same since they were small children,” Reilly recommends. Children can then compare and contrast their relatives’ experiences to their own. If relatives have immigrated to the United States from other countries, then students can learn about holiday celebrations from around the world and expand their knowledge of and appreciation for other cultures.

Mathematics and Science

The holiday break is a great opportunity for children to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply their math and science skills to the real world.

For children in kindergarten and first grade, “number talks” and “number stories” are a simple way to practice math daily. Encourage young children to create stories where they practice addition and subtraction.  For example, “Chris has eight candy canes. He gives three away to his sister, so now Chris has five candy canes.”

For children in third grade and above, Heather Brown, a mathematics content specialist, recommends baking as a means of incorporating fractions into holiday activities. “With the holidays, talk to students about doubling a recipe, or if you don’t have enough of something, halving the recipe and seeing what the new measurements would be,” says Brown of the Illinois Center for School Improvement. Reading a recipe in a cookbook or from the back of a box allows children to see how math and reading work together in the real world.

For middle school children, Brown suggests using holiday shopping for gifts as good practice in using percentages. If items are on sale, have children determine their new prices based on the percentage by which they are discounted.

Children can put their measuring skills to the test as they wrap gifts. Reilly encourages parents to challenge their children to measure gifts and determine how much wrapping paper is needed for each without wasting any paper.

The inevitable cold winter weather can inject a daily dose of science practice for younger elementary school students. These cold and clear winter nights can be especially great for stargazing. Children can attempt to locate Polaris, the North Star, in the night sky. Stargazing can also demonstrate the earth’s rotation. Note the position of a star in relation to an immobile landmark and return in one hour to see how the star’s position has changed.

Children can also practice reading a thermometer and keep a log of each day’s temperatures. They can calculate the difference in temperatures between days and make educated predictions about the next day’s temperature. Working with thermometers also presents an opportunity to discuss the difference between degrees Celsius and degrees Fahrenheit and the freezing point of water in each scale. More advanced students can practice converting temperatures from one scale to the other (to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 32, then multiply by 5, then divide by 9).

Marking the occasion of the winter solstice (December 21st) is yet another way to sprinkle in some science concepts over the holiday break. Celebrate the shortest day of the year with children by playing outdoors while it is still light out. Explain to children how the winter solstice marks the official first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and how it is the day during which the sun rises and sets at its southernmost point in the horizon. The winter solstice is a nice segue into conversations about the summer solstice, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes and the seasons in general.

If children are drawn to wildlife,  they might enjoy identifying animal tracks in the snow. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has activity sheets on mammals and other species native to the state (see link at end). The IDNR is also in the process of developing lessons aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), some of which can be found on its website. The NGSS are updated science and engineering standards for grades K through 12. The State Board of Education voted to begin the process of adopting the NGSS in September 2013 and will undergo a second read of the standards in January 2014.

For more ideas about how to keep children’s minds active and busy over break, please see the following resources.

Resources for Students and Parents:

Scholastic (http://www.scholastic.com/) is an online website with different resources for kids, parents, teachers and administrators, including age appropriate reading lists, tips for parents about how to encourage learning at home and tools and strategies for parents and teachers.

Resources for Students:

Book Creator is an app for the iPad that allows users to create their own iBooks.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources (http://dnr.state.il.us/education/standards.htm) has started to develop lessons aligned to the NGSS. It also has general information about mammals (http://dnr.state.il.us/education/mammals/index.htm) that might interest children.

Math Playground (http://www.mathplayground.com/) is an online website with math problems, word problems, worksheets and logic games for elementary and middle school students.

National Geographic Kids (http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/activities/) is an online website with fun games and activities that children can do over the holiday break, including ideas for different crafts, recipes and science experiments.

Resources for Parents:

The Illinois PTA has “The Parents’ Guide for Success,” which contains accessible information about what students learn in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level, as well as tips for how parents can facilitate further learning at home. The parent guides are available in both English and Spanish at http://www.illinoispta.org/ccss.html.

The Council of the Great City Schools has created “Parents Roadmaps” in English and Spanish that break down what students learn in English language arts and mathematics by grade level. They can be accessed at http://cgcs.org/domain/36.

For the latest news from the Illinois State Board of Education, follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Illinois-State-Board-of-Education/136022251779 or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/ISBEnews. Visit the official ISBE website at http://www.isbe.net.

Father Thulani reflects on Nelson Mandela

Posted by Admin On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Chinta Strausberg

In honoring the National Day of Prayer and Reflection for former South African President Nelson Mandela who passed last Thursday at the age of 95, Saint Sabina’s Pastor Thulani Magwaza last Sunday credited the fallen leader with uniting all races whose love circled the entire world and Father Michael L. Pfleger historically lifted up Mandela’s life and legacy.

Father Thulani, who was born in South Africa, said, “The challenge for us right now is to study Mandela’s speech when he was sent to prison because that speech tells us about his ideas, about his convictions and about why he believed even if he had to die. We need to study that speech,” he told reporters after the early Sunday morning worship service.

Thulani said people should study the books he wrote, “the struggles that he went through, and not forgetting his wife, Winnie, and what she went through when her husband went to prison. Because of the sacrifices on her part, she also suffered a certain amount of solitary confinement…,” he said referring to Winnie Mandela fondly called in South Africa as the “Mother of the Nation.” “Both of them suffered but also Zindzi  and Zenani, who grew up without a father, without a mother because they were constantly being harassed by the police being taken to prison by the police.”

After the passing of the iconic leader, Father Thulani asked, “How are we going to carry the legacy of Mr. Mandela”?

In trying to explain about the life and legacy of Mandela, Thulani said, “The world is now only trying to think of Mandela as a forgiver and we are putting away what he fought for before he forgave. Before he forgave, he went to prison. He went to prison for what he believed. He went to prison because he wanted justice because he wanted to free society. He went to prison because he wanted a democratic, non-racial society.People forget that.

“Mandela is a fighter…warrior and is someone who fought for racial justice and anti-apartheid. We must not lose sight of why he went to prison,” said Thulani. “Why after all these years, he comes back and he says the best solution for South Africa is…different parties  come together and sit together around the table.”

Asked to describe the anti-apartheid in South Africa, Thulani said he first voted at the age of 33. “For 33-years of my life, I did not know what it meant to cast a vote. I went to Pretoria in 1982. We were forced to carry ID’s…to prove we had the right to be in town. We were studying under those difficult conditions where you used to say you remembered your ID, not your wallet in your pocket that had the money. It was difficult.

“I went to school with white students but we could not share the same bus…or go to watch the same movie in the same theater because of separate places for different cultures, different races….The difference between our apartheid and racism here America is we are in a struggle here.

“Blacks would sit on the back of the bus, but we could not share the same bus with whites even with the trains that had separate coaches…coaches for whites…coaches for blacks.”

Thulani recalled the time he was taking a train from Johannesburg to Pretoria and he missed the first coaches. “I got into the last coach that only belonged to whites. I was kicked off a moving train….. When Mandela was freed, he did not only free blacks. He also freed his oppressors because they realized what we were going was immoral, unjust, unthinking in the eyes of the law.”

When asked if Mr. Mandela’s vision been realized yet, Thulani said, “It’s a long walk to freedom. It is not yet realized but thank God South Africa is not what it was 20-years ago and the challenge for us is to carry on where Mandela left.”

Asked about his thoughts on young people who don’t know who Mandela is, Thulani, said, “my challenge to young people, to all of us is to study Mandela, study his ideas, his legacy” not just that he was a forgiver. “Before there was forgiveness in South Africa, there was a fight…a fight against racism….a fight against injustice…against oppression…racial discrimination…. People tend to look at Mandela post Robben Island” where he was a prisoner for 27-years.

Thulani said Mandela was more than just a forgiver. “Mandela stood for everyone’s rights and Mandela put South Africa on the map politically, socially, economically….”

Asked if apartheid made him bitter or hate white people, Thulani said, “I did not hate the white people. I hated the system.”

He referred to the 1995 first South Africa Rugby World Cup championship game and how Mandela was cheered when he walked onto the field wearing a green rugby jersey bearing a gold-colored number 6. “Mandela walked into the stadium having the jersey of the captive. At that time, rugby was a white man’s sports…. By his actions by wearing that jersey, Number 6, it changed our attitudes…understanding, and it made us proud to support the rugby team. For the first time we saw the rugby team as a South African team and not a white team. For the first time, we learned we can forgive others, but forgiveness is not lip service. It is action. Mandela did not forgive because there was repentance on the part of his oppressors. Mandela forgave without the oppressor saying I’m sorry.

“The challenge for Christians is can you forgive when somebody else has not said forgive me? What you can learn from Mandela is that when we go into war with revenge to our enemies, he said when you dig that grave, you might as well dig the second grave for yourself….”

“Mandela looked beyond himself. He looked at the interest of the nation and realized this is where South Africa to be but before there had to be justice, peace, racial harmony,” Johnson said.

“Mandela went to prison with his fist that says power. Mandela realized that they could have taken him in chains, but they could not take the power away from him. When you surrender your power, you lose who you are. Mandela never lost his power….” Thulani said the fight for freedom in South Africa is not yet over.

Father Pfleger took a biblical approach to celebrating the life and legacy of Mandela.

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.

CPS student to ship toys off today for flood victims

Posted by Admin On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Ten-year-old Samuel Love, the fourth grade student at Beasley Academy Center, 5255 South State Street, will be shipping toys to Lyons, Colorado Tuesday, December 17th, from Josephine’s Cooking Restaurant, 436 E. 79th Street, as part of his goal to give children who lost their homes due to recent floods.

Love will be shipping the toys off at 4 p.m. today with the help of U.S. Post office officials.

Love and his father, Victor Love, have been in touch with Lyons Mayor Julie Van Domelen and other state officials. His son held a successful toy drive for Hurricane Sandy victims last year and has vowed to hold similar toy drives in the future.

Young Samuel is also collecting toys for Little Axe, OK and hopes to deliver those toys personally. His father said he is proud of his son and marvels at his determination to meet his goals.

For further information, call Victor Love at: 773.908.7431.

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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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