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Archive for January 24th, 2014

Economic Justice: Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on Economic Justice: Where Do We Go From Here?
Opening ReMARCs

By Marc Morial

President and CEO of the National Urban League

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar…it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Earlier this week, the nation paused in annual tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – the man who awakened a nation with a dream of equal rights and forever changed the world with his message of nonviolent social change.  But, in what would have been the 85th year of his life, what still remains a lesser-focus in the celebrations of and reflections on Dr. King is his message of economic justice in the achievement of true equality.

Perhaps it is because Dr. King’s life was taken before he could fully realize the “Poor People’s Campaign” – focused on economic inequality and poverty –  that this part of his work is seldom spotlighted on a national stage.  While efforts around desegregation and voting rights will forever remain critical hallmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King’s primary focus during the last year of his life to improving the economic and social condition of the nation’s poor is its unfinished business.  Dr. King recognized that “the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice” and subsequently called for a Bill of Economic and Social Rights addressing jobs, minimum income, decent housing, education, and healthcare.

He knew then what we also know now.  With more than 46 million Americans currently living in poverty and roughly 27 percent of African Americans living below the poverty line, economic inequality is the biggest domestic threat facing our nation.  As new challenges face us on the civil rights front, old ones confront us with as much force and clarity as they did 50 years ago.  The challenge of this generation is the completion of  our unfinished business.

“The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking. … The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. ” – Excerpted from Dr. King’s last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)

NAACP: The Presidential Commission on Election Administration report a call to action for election administration reform

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on NAACP: The Presidential Commission on Election Administration report a call to action for election administration reform

Baltimore — The Presidential Commission on Election Administration released a report on the American voting experience and offered recommendations and election best practices for state level election reform moving forward.
“This report is a call to action for election administration reform,” stated Lorraine C. Miller, NAACP Interim President and CEO. “The commission’s recommendations should serve as a foundation for states to move forward with key modernization efforts, including early voting and secure online voter registration. This report also illustrates the need for Congress to fully operationalize the Election Assistance Commission.  These reforms are essential for our nation to truly have free and fair elections.”
The Election Assistance Commission (EAC)  was a bipartisan, independent group created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and charged with developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration.
“The report provides a roadmap for opening up the voting experience for all Americans,” stated Jotaka Eaddy, Sr. Director for the NAACP Voting Rights Initiative.  “For far too long, antiquated voting machines, long lines, and insufficient numbers of voting machines in communities of colors have served as a barrier to the ballot box. These recommendations move us closer to the inclusive democracy we deserve.  The NAACP and our 1200 units across the nation are committed to ensuring that these reforms aimed at expanding access to our democracy are implemented.”
Key recommendations in the report call for:
  • Modernization of the registration process through continued expansion of online voter registration and expanded state collaboration in improving the accuracy of voter lists;
  • Measures to improve access to the polls through expansion of the period for voting before the traditional Election Day, and through the selection of suitable, well-equipped polling place facilities, such as schools;
  • State-of-the-art techniques to assure efficient management of polling places, including tools the Commission is publicizing and recommending for the efficient allocation of polling place resources; and,
  • Reforms of the standard-setting and certification process for new voting technology to address soon-to-be antiquated voting machines and to encourage innovation and the adoption of widely available off-the-shelf technologies.
Shortly after the State of the Union address in 2013, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the Commission on Election Administration. According to the commission, this report is the result of several months of field hearings, consultation with state and local election officials, academic experts, and organizations and associations involved in the election process.

Kirk announces legislation backing High-Performing All-Year Schools

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on Kirk announces legislation backing High-Performing All-Year Schools

All-Year School Study Act Builds on the Success of Alain Locke Charter School in Chicago

Promotes Year-Round Schooling Pilot Programs in Low-Income, Low-Achieving Areas

CHICAGO, IL – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced new legislation that would promote year-round elementary and secondary school pilot programs to boost academic achievement in low-income, low-performing school districts across the nation.  Senator Kirk outlined the legislation at Alain Locke Charter School, which has academic classes year-round, and serves the under-resourced community of East Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side. Senator Kirk was joined by Alain Locke Charter School Principal Patrick Love, school parent Michelle Smiley, 8th grade student Kaneshia Henderson and the Reverend James Meeks to discuss The All-Year School Study Act.  

“Year-round schools like Alain Locke Charter School in Chicago outperform other schools with fewer academic days and instructional time,” Senator Kirk said. “At Alain Locke, low-income students perform approximately 25 percent better at math and reading than other students in Chicago and throughout the state.  In order to be competitive internationally, we must focus on creating successful schools with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  It is time we replicate the all-year school model to improve the education and long-term success of every student.”

The All-Year School Study Act would authorize $4 million in federal resources to establish a pilot program of year-round public elementary and secondary schools. The bill would utilize existing funds already appropriated to the Fund for the Improvement of Education, which saw an increase in funding for the 2014 fiscal year under the recently passed omnibus appropriation spending measure. The grants awarded would be disbursed to four schools in geographically diverse areas of the nation and priority would be given to low-income communities and low-performing schools, in addition to schools that actively promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education programs.

Alain Locke Charter School’s program has four, ten-week quarters with two four-week breaks in between each quarter, totaling 190 academic days.  The average school in Illinois only has 176 school days, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.  Alain Locke has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as 1 of 7 schools in the nation best at “Closing the Achievement Gap.” In reading and math, their students have tested 25% and 23% higher than the Illinois average.

During the school day at Alain Locke, the teachers have extended time in their classrooms to focus on core subjects such as reading, writing, and math. The school also includes extra time for enrichment courses such as technology, art and Spanish. Alain Locke is currently comprised of 94% low-income students.

Streamwood man charged in child pornography case

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on Streamwood man charged in child pornography case

A Streamwood man has been charged with possession of child pornography after investigators recovered numerous images and videos depicting children engaging in sex acts on a computer in his home, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Charles Brown, 49, of the 300 block of Somerset Drive, was charged with three counts of Child Pornography: two Class 2 Felonies (moving images) and one Class 3 Felony (still depictions by computer).

According to prosecutors, a search warrant was executed at Brown’s residence following an investigation by Cook County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Streamwood and Bartlett Police Departments. During the search, investigators recovered a computer from Brown’s residence, where his wife operates a residential child daycare business. A forensic review of the computer revealed numerous downloaded video and picture files depicting young children engaging in a variety of sex acts.

Brown was arrested by Streamwood Police Tuesday (Jan. 21) and appeared in bond court at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse where his bond was set at $25,000. Judge Jill Cerone-Marisie also imposed special conditions of bond that include no contact with anyone under the age of 18 and that Brown not be allowed to live at his residence or access the internet or cell phones. Brown’s next court date is Feb. 13 in Room 108 at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office administers the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which investigates and prosecutes criminal acts such as child pornography, sexual solicitation of a child or missing child investigations. The task force also offers guidance and information for parents and educators on internet safety.

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

Deadline for Federal Tornado Aid Applications Extended to Feb. 3

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on Deadline for Federal Tornado Aid Applications Extended to Feb. 3

To date, more than $16 million in grants, loans approved for tornado survivors

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The deadline to apply for federal disaster aid for people affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes and severe storms has been extended to Feb. 3. The state requested the extension Wednesday to enable people affected by tornadoes in 15 federally designated counties to seek grants and loans to help with their recovery. The original registration deadline was Jan. 27.

“I appreciate the Obama Administration’s quick action on our request to extend the deadline,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “Given the unusually difficult winter weather we’ve experienced during the registration period, as well as several federal holidays, this seven-day extension is needed to ensure residents have ample opportunity to apply for federal aid.”

To date, more than 2,400 applications for disaster aid have been received from people in the 15 federally declared counties. More than $2.3 million in federal grants has been awarded to help people with disaster-related expenses. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $14.2 million in disaster assistance loans to help people and businesses recover.

Governor Quinn successfully secured federal aid for 15 counties just nine days after an Illinois November record of 25 tornadoes caused widespread destruction across the state. The federal disaster declaration includes Champaign, Douglas, Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, LaSalle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford counties.

Registration for disaster aid can be completed online at www.disasterassistance.gov, via web-enabled phone or tablet at m.fema.gov, or by phone at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585).

Earlier this month, FEMA denied the state’s request for federal assistance that would provide reimbursement to affected local governments in nine counties for their disaster-related expenses. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) currently is working with local officials in those counties to compile additional information for an appeal. The state has until Feb. 8 to submit that appeal.

215,000 Jobs Openings On-Line in December

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on 215,000 Jobs Openings On-Line in December

Median Earnings Between $10 and $48 an Hour

CHICAGO, IL – Employers in December advertised online for more than 215,000 individual job openings, according to the Conference Board and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Ninety-two percent of
the advertisements were for full-time work.

The advertising reflects help-wanted activity for newly created and replacement positions. The actual number of openings exceeds 215,000 because some industries, such as construction, do not typically advertise online.

“The number of job openings show that Illinois employers are ready to hire if they can find the right candidate,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “A skills gap created by the Great Recession and the willingness of job candidates to negotiate for higher wages are likely explanations for so many unfilled job opportunities.”

Statewide, the five top advertised positions in August were truck drivers (6,729), registered nurses, (6,219), retail salespersons (5,862), first-line
supervisors of retail sales workers (4,799) and marketing managers (4,666). The median hourly wage for a truck driver is $20.57; registered nurse,
$31.34; retail salesperson, $9.85; first-line supervisors of retail salesperson, $17.03; and marketing managers, $48.78. Typically, the positions include some benefits, such as health insurance and vacation.

Individuals can use illinoisjoblink.com to apply for these positions. IDES operates the state’s hiring board. Job seekers can build multiple resumes to
emphasize different skills and experiences. Business owners can use keyword matching technology to search resumes and find the best candidate.
Illinoisjoblink.com is free for workers and employers. It compares favorably to private efforts that cost hundreds of dollars. No-cost HR recruitment
services are available at the website and at (877) 342-7533.

Using illinoisjoblink.com to apply for jobs or record other job search efforts can help ensure on-going eligibility for current and future unemployment
insurance benefits.

The Conference Board collects the Help Wanted Online data. The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association. The data measures new, first-time online jobs and jobs reposted from the previous month on internet job boards, corporate boards and smaller, niche websites.

HWOL Data for Economic Development Regions – December 2013 Top 5 Occupations:

Top 5 Occupations:

Region 1 – Central
Cass, Christian, Greene,
Logan, Macon, Macoupin,
Menard, Montgomery,
Morgan, Sangamon, Scott,
Shelby Counties    •    Sales and Related
Occupations: 1,089 jobs
• Transportation and Material Moving Occupations: 823
• Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations:
699 jobs
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 568
• Computer and Mathematical Occupations: 485 jobs
Region 2 – East
Champaign, Douglas,
Ford, Iroquois, Piatt,
Vermilion Counties. •    Healthcare Practitioners
and Technical Occupations: 890 jobs
• Sales and Related Occupations: 830 jobs
• Transportation and Material Moving Occupations: 596
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 550
• Education, Training, and Library Occupations: 529

Region 3 – North
De Witt, Fulton, Livingston,
Mc Lean, Marshall, Mason,
Peoria, Stark, Tazewell,
Woodford Counties.  •    Sales and Related
Occupations: 1,466 jobs
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 889
• Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations:
878 jobs
• Transportation and Material Moving Occupations: 870
• Computer and Mathematical Occupations: 636 jobs
Region 4 – Northeast
Cook, De Kalb, Du Page,
Grundy, Kane, Kankakee,
Kendall, Lake, Mc Henry,
Will Counties.      •    Computer and Mathematical
Occupations: 22,027 jobs
• Management Occupations: 21,200 jobs
• Sales and Related Occupations: 19,206 jobs
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations:
15,127 jobs
• Business and Financial Operations Occupations:
14,788 jobs

Region 5 – Northern
Boone, Ogle, Stephenson,
Winnebago Counties. •    Sales and Related
Occupations: 975 jobs
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 694
• Transportation and Material Moving Occupations: 688
• Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations:
591 jobs

• Production Occupations: 394 jobs

Region 6 -Northwest
Bureau, Carroll, Henry, Jo
Daviess, La Salle, Lee,
Mercer, Putnam, Rock
Island, Whiteside Counties.    •    Healthcare
Practitioners and Technical Occupations: 733 jobs
• Sales and Related Occupations: 573 jobs
• Transportation and Material Moving Occupations: 459
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 439
• Computer and Mathematical Occupations: 364 jobs

Region 7 -Southeastern
Clark, Clay, Coles,
Crawford, Cumberland,
Edgar, Effingham, Fayette,
Jasper, Lawrence, Marion,
Moultrie, Richland
Counties.    •    Healthcare Practitioners and
Technical Occupations: 289 jobs
• Transportation and Material Moving Occupations: 237
• Sales and Related Occupations: 217 jobs
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 180
• Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations:
161 jobs

Region 8 – Southern
Alexander, Edwards,
Franklin, Gallatin,
Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson,
Jefferson, Johnson,
Massac, Perry, Pope,
Pulaski, Saline, Union,
Wabash, Wayne, White,
Williamson Counties.      •    Healthcare
Practitioners and Technical Occupations: 521 jobs
• Sales and Related Occupations: 513 jobs
• Transportation and Material Moving Occupations: 283
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 272
• Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations:
207 jobs

Region 9 – Southwestern
Bond, Calhoun, Clinton,
Jersey, Madison, Monroe,
Randolph, St. Clair,
Washington Counties.      •    Healthcare
Practitioners and Technical Occupations: 622 jobs
• Sales and Related Occupations: 611 jobs
• Computer and Mathematical Occupations: 539 jobs
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 459

• Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations: 394 job

Region 10 – West
Adams, Brown, Hancock,
Henderson, Knox, Mc
Donough, Pike, Schuyler,
Warren Counties.    •    Healthcare Practitioners
and Technical Occupations: 467 jobs
• Sales and Related Occupations: 299 jobs
• Transportation and Material Moving Occupations: 190
• Office and Administrative Support Occupations: 175
• Management Occupations: 139 jobs•

ISBE calls for State to shift focus toward economic growth in FY15 Budget; Priority needs to be on investing in tomorrow’s workforce

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on ISBE calls for State to shift focus toward economic growth in FY15 Budget; Priority needs to be on investing in tomorrow’s workforce

Calls for emergency relief for disaster-stricken districts, increases for closing achievement gaps, supporting bilingual education

SPRINGFIELD, IL — The Illinois State Board of Education today called on lawmakers and the Governor to invest in students and the state’s economic future by changing their budgeting focus to increase the state’s share of funding for education. In order for Illinois to remain competitive nationally and internationally, Board members contend the state needs to move toward making K-12 education account for one-third of the state budget. As part of their request, the Board is asking that lawmakers honor the General State Aid (GSA) Foundation Level commitment of $6,119 per student. School districts have not received the full share of GSA promised to them under state law for the past three years.

Historically, Illinois’ State General Funds budget has dedicated approximately 27 percent to K-12 education. However, in order to increase economic vitality for the future, the Board is calling for a shift to 33 percent of the total state budget. The increase being sought on behalf of Illinois students is $1.08 billion dollars. When adjusting the FY09 K-12 education budget for inflation, the Board’s request amounts to a 1.5 percent decrease from the adjusted FY09 levels. Based on FY14 funding levels, the Board’s request would account for about 31 percent of the State General Funds budget.

“There is no doubt this is a lot of money, and some may scoff at our request, but we cannot shortchange our students, because we’re only hurting our state’s future,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Even when we say that the state needs to honor the Foundation Level, it is still well below what the Education Funding Advisory Board has said is an adequate level of funding. Investing in education at reasonable levels supports Illinois students today and ensures a robust economy for tomorrow.”

In addition to the General Funds request, the Board’s recommendation includes a $450 million capital request to support districts as they improve their technology infrastructure. This funding will be targeted toward improving the connectivity of buildings to broadband internet service as well as improving the network capabilities with the classroom. This request does not include funding for individual devices.

The Board will also seek emergency funds that can be used to assist school districts in towns such as Washington, IL, which was devastated late last year by a tornado and rejected for federal disaster relief. The Board is calling for a new line item in the agency’s budget that would allow the state superintendent to respond to districts  in distress that need assistance getting their schools up and running immediately. When a disaster occurs, it’s imperative to get students back into their regular school routine as soon as possible. The $5 million being requested for district emergency assistance will allow for a rapid flow of funds to schools without having to jump through federal hoops or not qualify for federal funds.

The majority of the Board’s requested increase would go directly to districts through the General State Aid (GSA) formula, which supports local school district general operations. The Board is requesting an $879 million increase for GSA. Central to the GSA calculation is the ‘Foundation Level,’ which is intended to represent the minimum level to adequately fund the education of a single pupil in the Illinois K-12 public school system. That Foundation Level has been set in statue at $6,119 per pupil since 2010.

In recent years, however, funds appropriated for GSA have fallen short and districts have not received full reimbursement for the last three years. In the current fiscal year, FY14, appropriated funds fell $562 million short of the amount necessary to fully pay the GSA claim, resulting in payments at just 89 percent of the amount owed to districts by statutory formula. This fiscal year is the third year in a row the state has not met its obligation under the Foundation Level.

Currently, more than half of all public school students in Illinois are now eligible for free and reduced-price lunch in our schools. Illinois’ total public school student enrollment is 2,054,155, of which 1,086,950 students are considered low-income. This increase in the number of students from low-income families is just one piece of the school funding crisis. Local resources also dwindled because of declining property values, and 62 percent of districts are in deficit spending.

“More than half of our students are from low-income families who are counting on their schools to prepare them for success in college and careers,” State Board Finance Committee Chairman Jim Baumann said before the board’s vote to approve the recommended funding levels. “This is a request that will help support our schools, which have already seen dramatic cuts to their teaching staffs and the elimination of vital academic and extracurricular programs. In addition to serving more children from low-income families, they are also receiving less local revenue due to declining Equalized Assessed Valuations. The confluence of factors makes for many lean local school budgets.”

Thursday’s Board recommendation urges the General Assembly to approve an increase of $879 million for GSA, providing a total of about $5.3 billion to fully fund claims at the $6,119 per pupil Foundation Level.

The Board recommendation still falls far short of the Education Funding Advisory Board recommendation of $8,672 per-pupil. The group last year made its recommendation for adequate education funding levels based on a national funding model. They are scheduled to update their recommendation later during FY15.

The Board is also recommending a $2 million increase in the budget to provide assistance to low-income students taking Advance Placement exams. Illinois is a leader in closing the gap for Latino AP test takers, providing additional access to college for this population. In 2013, Latino students represented 18.4 percent of our state’s student population and they accounted for 19.8 percent of those students having taken an AP exam. Illinois is also showing great progress on those Latino students scoring a 3 or higher, 16.1 percent in 2013, which was up from 14.6 percent in 2012 and 8.1 percent in 2003.

We are also improving in the number of low-income students participating in AP exams with 29.3 percent taking an exam prior to graduation in 2013, up from 12.1 percent in 2003.

“This shows that as we challenge our students and teachers with more rigor in our standards, they step up to the plate and respond positively, whether it’s closing the gap on AP or leading the nation with our universal ACT success,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We need to continue this momentum so students continue to challenge themselves and be better prepared for college and careers when they graduate.”

Some of the proposed FY15 increases or expenses include:

  • $879 million increase, or a 19.8 percent increase over last year, for General State Aid (GSA) to fully fund the Foundation Level at $6,119 per pupil.

  • $25 million increase for early childhood education, providing an 8.3 percent increase over FY14 levels but still falling short of the FY09 levels. Roughly 5,000 more children age 3-5 and 550 0-3 year-olds would be served in preschool programs under this proposed budget than were served in Fiscal Year 2014.

  • $12.3 million increase in the Bilingual Education program to help districts meet the needs of the growing bilingual population, which accounts for about 10 percent of all students. Since FY05, this population has increased at a rate of 4.7 percent per year

  • $27.1 million increase for State Assessments based upon the cost of administering both the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams and the ACT exam for 11th graders. The administration of PARCC and ACT is necessary to provide information in the transition years to the new PARCC assessments. Illinois is a member of PARCC’s governing board. The additional funding will complete the transition from state testing on the previous learning standards to the new, more rigorous Illinois Learning Standards.

  • $10 million for an Expanded Learning Time program. Currently, the only funding available to support extended learning time is the federal 21st Century Learning Center grants. In FY 13, the agency received 102 applications for 21st Century Learning Center grants but only had funding available to support 43 projects. The additional funds would allow ISBE to serve approximately 100 more sites. Approximately 54,000 students are currently served in 43 sites.

  • $30.4 million increase to Regular/Vocational Transportation line to begin restoring this line to previous levels. The Regular/Vocational line item has not been fully funded since FY10. An increase of $30.4 million will result in a proration level of 80 percent.

As part of the budget-making process, the Board conducted a series of five public budget hearings around the state last fall where parents, citizens, local and state elected officials and others involved in education were invited to voice their priorities. More than 150 individuals provided oral or written testimony to restore or increase GSA, early childhood funding, agriculture education and other items and programs.

The Board based its decisions regarding programs and funding on several key principles, including support for the largest number of students and greatest flexibility for districts, minimizing the introduction of new programs and mandates in order to conserve resources and align to ISBE’s strategic plan goals:

· Every student will demonstrate academic achievement and be prepared for success after high school.

· Every student will be supported by highly prepared and effective teachers and school leaders.

· Every school will offer a safe and healthy learning environment for all students.

The Illinois State Board of Education will provide its budget recommendation to the Governor and General Assembly for consideration as part of the overall State FY2015 state budget. The Board’s budget proposal is posted on www.isbe.net/budget.

Thodos Dance Chicago and Studio gang Architects investigate the intersection of Architecture and Dance with World Premiere Collaboration debuting Feb. 22 at Skokie’s North Shore Center, March 8 & 9 at Chicago’s Harris Theatre

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on Thodos Dance Chicago and Studio gang Architects investigate the intersection of Architecture and Dance with World Premiere Collaboration debuting Feb. 22 at Skokie’s North Shore Center, March 8 & 9 at Chicago’s Harris Theatre
CHICAGO, IL – Leading artists from Chicago’s culture scene, Melissa Thodos and Jeanne Gang, have combined their singular talents to create a cross-disciplinary, world-premiere dance that explores the fascinating worlds of-and intersections among-dance, architecture and physics.

The debut of this exciting new work as well as the name of the dance will be officially unveiled as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s Winter Concert 2014 on Saturday, February 22, 2014, at 8 p.m. at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie.

The program also boasts the return of TDC’s acclaimed story ballet A Light in the Dark, the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, co-choreographed by Melissa Thodos and Broadway legend Ann Reinking; Tsuru, a world premiere by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Lucas Crandall; and Panem Nostrum Quoditianum (Latin for “our daily bread”) by Ahmad Simmons of River North Dance Chicago. Tickets are $26-$46; $20 for students. For tickets and information, call (847) 673-6300 or visit northshorecenter.org.

The Skokie concert will be followed by two shows at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 East Randolph Street, Chicago, on Saturday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20-$60; half off for students, seniors and industry. Purchase tickets at the Harris by calling (312) 334-7777 or visiting harristheaterchicago.org.

Voices from Syria

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on Voices from Syria

Syrian survivors stories in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL – On Friday, Jan 17 , 2014, Heba and Amineh met with dozens of diplomats and NGO representatives, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Norway at the United Nations, to speak freely for the first time about the survivors’ stories of death and devastation at the hands of the Assad regime.

They will be in Chicago next week discussing their first hand accounts:

Monday Jan 27, 2014 they will be in Chicago at DePaul University at 6:00 pm

Tuesday Jan 28, 2014 they will be in Chicago at Ashton Place at 8:00 pm

“I don’t need your tears,” Amineh said, speaking today before the our event. “I need your help.”
“I cannot remember life before the revolution started three years ago,” survivor Heba Sawan said. “Only the war. This is my whole life now.”

Heba, 24, and her cousin Amineh Sawan, 23, arrived in the U.S. in mid-January to tell their story of survival as their small town of Moadamiya, a suburb of Damascus, was devastated by the army of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

The two young women saw with their own eyes the killing of family, friends and others—all civilians–by the Syrian Army of Bashar al-Assad. Early on in the war, Heba’s financé was killed.

In the pre-dawn August morning when Assad’s army attacked the town with chemical weapons the two cousins rushed to the makeshift hospital and began treating victims. More than 1,200 of their neighbors were killed in the attack. “Bodies were spasming uncontrollably,” Amineh said. “Children were screaming unintelligible words as they were dying.” An infant died in her arms.
Assad’s forces laid siege to Moadamiya, blocking the delivery of food and other essentials, and preventing anyone from leaving. Those who tried to escape were cut down by snipers’ fire.
The young cousins were determined to make a difference. With the schools destroyed by artillery fire, the children of Moadamiya were left with nothing more to do than play war on rubble filled streets. Heba and Amineh established an underground school for the local children—a place to escape the harsh reality outside.

Kirk announces Washington, Illinois, Mayor Gary Manier as his guest for the upcoming State of the Union Address

Posted by Admin On January - 24 - 2014 Comments Off on Kirk announces Washington, Illinois, Mayor Gary Manier as his guest for the upcoming State of the Union Address

Manier’s Community Was Devastated in November Following Deadly Tornadoes

Pushes FEMA to Re-Assess Their Methodology for Distributing Aid

CHICAGO, IL – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today announced that his guest for next Tuesday’s State of the Union Address will be Gary W. Manier, Mayor of Washington, Illinois.

“Having seen firsthand with Mayor Manier the devastation that November’s deadly tornadoes caused, it’s time for a serious reevaluation of FEMA’s methodology for providing Public Assistance,” Sen. Kirk said. “Hundreds of families in Mayor Manier’s community were displaced due to these storms, and FEMA should treat all communities fairly when a disaster strikes.”

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to attend the State of the Union as Senator Kirk’s guest,” Mayor Manier said. “Senator Kirk toured our city a few days after the tornadoes hit, and continues to be a fierce advocate for our community’s recovery efforts. I’m grateful for his friendship and help.”

Earlier this month, FEMA declined to provide Public Assistance aid to Illinois communities impacted by last November’s tornadoes, stating that the damage assessment did not meet federal standards and requirements for assistance.  Senator Kirk, along with Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), sent a letter to FEMA on January 14, 2014, requesting a change in FEMA’s disaster zone valuation. You can view the letter here.

FEMA’s current determination of Public Assistance aid relies heavily on the “per capita” factor, which gives larger states like Illinois a severe disadvantage when determining aid. Due to Illinois’ large, urban populous center, according to FEMA standards the state has to incur a higher level of damage in order to receive aid and assistance from the agency.

Senator Kirk released a video discussing his visit to Washington with Mayor Manier, which can be viewed below:

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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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