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Simon signs “It Can Wait” pledge, urges students to consider dangers of texting   CARTERVILLE, IL – Illinois ...
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Archive for February 12th, 2014

“Little Rock Nine” Alumnus Discusses Career “RISK” Strategies in New Audio Book

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Alexandria, VA – In a new audio book, “Little Rock Nine” alumnus Ernest Green shares career success strategies with publisher Tenickia Polk.

Green, a Washington, DC resident, will participate in a local book launch and discussion on school integration and how to build a career amidst changing times. The event will take place at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland on February 18, 2014.  The launch will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Center for Learning and Technology, Room 102.

Entitled, RISK: Black History Lessons for Today’s Careers, Green shares his experiences in school integration and discusses how to build a career amidst changing times.  During this hour-long audio program, listeners will learn: how to take the “RISK” toward a bright future through R:  Relationships; I:  Individual Assessments; S: Skills and K:  Kindness.

Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director said, “When Ernest Green walked into Little Rock Central High School, he took a significant step toward a more just and equal society.  Today, Green shows young people how they can take significant steps toward creating an even greater society. In this audiobook, listen to Green share his insights on navigating your path to a meaningful calling.”

Civil rights activists and Americans dedicated to justice helped open the doors to a better education for Green, who was part of a group known as the “Little Rock Nine.”  These nine students were the first to integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957, after President Eisenhower ordered the students be escorted into school by the U.S. Army.  Green was the first of the “Little Rock Nine” to graduate. By providence, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. attended Green’s high school graduation. Green then went on to college, graduate school and later served as an Assistant Labor Secretary in the Carter Administration.  Today, Green works as an investment banker for a major financial firm.  He also travels the country talking about his black history experiences.

“What’s amazing about Mr. Green is that as a young man, he succeeded in a school that had been traditionally all white. Today, he has made a successful career in another traditionally white field of investment banking,” said Tenickia Polk, who interviewed him for this book, along with adding her own insights on career navigation.

Polk produced this program through her company, TP Rewards, LLC, which publishes culturally sensitive books and material that educate and inspire people of all ages.  For more information on the company or to order the book, visit http://www.tp-rewards.com/.

Kirk, Warner urge establishment of merchant and retail industry information sharing analysis center

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

MRI-ISAC would enable stores and businesses to protect from cyber threats


WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Edith Ramirez to request the establishment of a Merchant and Retail Industry Information Sharing Analysis Center (MRI-ISAC), which would enable stores and businesses to share threats and vulnerabilities before hackers strike. Following the Target and Neiman Marcus data breaches last year, Kirk and Warner held a National Security and International Trade and Finance Banking Subcommittee hearing to address the ongoing threat of cyber hackers.
“There has been a 30-percent increase in data breaches from 2012 to 2013, with more than 100 million people affected by the recent Target and Neiman Marcus data breaches,” Senator Kirk said. “That is why we are calling for Target and other large retailers that handle sensitive personal information to establish an MRI-ISAC, which will enable stores and businesses to share threats and vulnerabilities before these hackers strike again. The more information that is shared amongst these retailers, the safer American consumers will be.”
“Establishing an ISAC will enable the retail industry to share information that can help prevent the types of widespread consumer data theft we have seen in recent months,” Senator Warner said. “The private sector should work together to be more responsive to the serious threats consumers face from data breaches. “
A number of industries utilize ISACs, due to the sensitive nature of the information they handle. There are currently 16 other existing ISACs, which represent critical industries in our country. Cyber threats and hackers are often discovered through these centers, and the information is then shared with the institutions in order to combat these attacks.
A copy of the letter is below:

February 11, 2014

Chairman Edith Ramirez

Federal Trade Commission

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20580

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez:

In light of the recent data breaches that occurred at the end of 2013 and early 2014 at a number of merchants, and to follow up on information we received at our hearing on February 3, we write to urge the Federal Trade Commission to support the establishment of a Merchant and Retail Industry Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), or “MRI-ISAC”.

Similar to other sixteen existing ISACs, such as the Financial Institutions ISAC (“FI-ISAC”), representing critical infrastructure industries of our country, the MRI-ISAC could receive alerts and information from a number of sources, including government agencies and law enforcement, and provide valuable information regarding emerging cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and risk information about cyber and physical security risks faced by the merchant and retail industry.  The MRI-ISAC could then provide education to ISAC members on best practices and the most effective security measures.  The MRI-ISAC could also be used to quickly disseminate information about suspected malware and cyber crime activity throughout the industry to better protect the systems, to mitigate the damage spread to other merchants and retailers, and ultimately to mitigate the damage to the number of consumers impacted.

The MRI-ISAC would also establish a database to collect information on the thousands of threats and vulnerabilities for years of data to be used in investigations by members.  Further, the database will further the analysis efforts to establish trends, do research and conduct investigations.

A number of industries have utilized ISACs because of the sensitive information their industry either stores or handles.  It is logical for these firms to take these additional security measures and safeguards, and as the payment systems evolve it is becoming more evident that others that store and/or handle similar sensitive information could also benefit from the formation of an ISAC for their industry.

Several industry ISACs, including the financial services ISAC, have official government sponsors.  As the government agency responsible for responding when a merchant breach occurs, we urge the FTC to become the official government sponsor for an MRI-ISAC and assist industry coordinate efforts to establish an MRI-ISAC.

Sincerely,

Love lost on the Internet: Valentine’s Day Scams” that can lead to heartbreak, says the Better Business Bureau

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Online dating has always had its concerns…but they become magnified every year as Valentine’s Day draws near. The search for that special someone can cause some to let their guard down and end up a victim with a broken heart.

“Romance scams come in many forms, but they usually start out with the scam artists expressing feelings of affection” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “First they build trust and then move quickly toward the rip-off.”

The Better Business Bureau has joined with Western Union in an effort to protect those searching for love online. “The warning is never send money to a person you have not met” stated Bernas.

For online dating scams individuals need to look for red flags. Beware of anyone who:

  • Asks to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service, as this allows fraudsters to carry out scams without the dating site having a record of the encounter
  • Claim to be from this country but are currently travelling, living or working abroad
  • Asks you for money or credit card information
  • Sends you emails containing questionable links to third-party websites

Other scams to watch for include:

Catfishing

Fraudsters pretend to be someone they are not with the intent of taking money or personal information from their target.

Social Media Scams

Beware of any “free” love giveaways such as flowers, perfumes or vacations. The “free” giveaways take consumers to a third party site where personal information can be compromised.

Instant Messaging

If consumers receive an instant message inviting them to become involved in a romantic online chat, think again. The “Flirt-bot” is a great example of an automated chat program that works with an instant messaging site, trying to get victims to share information about themselves, then directs them to a site where they are asked for a credit card to prove the person is over 18.

E-cards

An email from “a friend” links to an online greeting card but when the individual attempts to download the card, malware is installed on their PC and personal information is compromised. If you receive a Valentine’s Day e-card, check with the sender before you click on the link.

Phishing

Consumers receive an email warning that the gift or flower orders are unable to be delivered because of a problem with a credit card. The email has a link that directs consumers to a spoof site where they are asked to re-enter their credit card information.

What else can consumers do? Visit BBB Scam Stopper, a site launched by Western Union and BBB to help consumers reduce their chances of becoming a victim of a scam.

Aio Wireless announces availability of three new smartphones

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Moto G, Nokia Lumia 520, and ZTE Sonata 4GTM join Aio’s 4G device line-up

Alpharetta, GA (BlackNews.com) — Aio Wireless announced a bevy of offerings just in time for Valentine’s Day. Beginning today, the ZTE Sonata 4GTM is available at Aio stores and online at www.aiowireless.com. On February 14, Motorola’s Moto GTM and Nokia’s Lumia 520 will be added to Aio’s rich 4G device portfolio.

The ZTE Sonata 4G, offered at $79.99 in pearl white – an Aio exclusive in the U.S. – features:

* A crisp 4.0” WVGA Display and peppy dual-core processor that makes hard work look easy;

* A 5MP camera with flash and video to capture the moment wherever you are;

* Android OS lets you stay in sync while on the go with access to over 500,000 apps with Google Play


The Motorola Moto G, offered at $149.99, is a benchmark Android Kit Kat 4.4 smartphone that is ideal for value seekers who want a great smartphone with premium features, including:

* A brilliant, scratch-resistant 4.5” HD display

* Water-resistant technology to help protect against life’s little mishaps

* All-day battery life

* Available to customize with colored backs

* Quad-core speed for easy multi-tasking

* Latest Android OS (KitKat 4.4) to browse, stream, navigate, play, and more


The Nokia Lumia 520, offered at $99.99, is a versatile Windows Phone 8 device and a great fit for first-time smartphone users and multi-taskers looking to take advantage of Lumia benefits like:

* A 4” Super-sensitive display screen that can be used when wearing gloves or with fingernails

* Nokia Mix Radio for subscription-free streaming music

* HERE apps: Maps, Drive and Transit to help you get around and enjoy doing it

* 5MP camera with SmartShoot editing capabilities and HD video recording

* An organize-it-your way display with live tiles which update in real time

* Vivid colors that express your style (Black, Yellow, Cyan, Red)


In addition to expanding its device portfolio, on February 4 Aio lowered the pricing on its three simple, unlimited plans and added more high speed data to its two most popular plans. Customers who sign up for Auto Pay* with any of the new plans can get a $5 account credit at the end of each billing cycle for as long as they remain enrolled in Auto Pay.

* Basic Plan: $35 after Auto Pay credit ($40 without Auto Pay), unlimited voice/text/data, including 500MB of high speed data (same price as before but double the data);

* Smart Plan: $45 after Auto Pay credit, ($50 without Auto Pay), unlimited voice/text/data, including 2.5 GB of high speed data ($5 less/month plus an extra half GB of data); and

* Pro Plan: $55 after Auto Pay credit ($60 without Auto Pay), unlimited voice/text/data, including 5 GB of high speed data ($10 less/month with 5 GB of data).

All three plans are available for smartphones and include taxes and fees, so the price you see is the price you pay.

“We thought Valentine’s Day was an ideal time to provide our customers with an even greater selection of amazing smartphones as potential gift ideas,” said Andy Smoak, Aio’s head of Product and Marketing. “We think these devices, in combination with our incredible new low price plans, make this the perfect time to switch to Aio,” he added. Aio launched in May 2013 and is available through dealer-owned stores in 21 markets in Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, Washington, Michigan, and New York. Aio is also available to all U.S. customers online at www.aiowireless.com.

For more information, visit an Aio store or www.aiowireless.com

Like them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/aiowireless and follow them on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/aiowireless


About Aio Wireless
Aio Wireless (pronounced A-O) was created for today’s value-conscious connected consumers who want it all.  We created a new class of service for individuals who expect a first class wireless service at a value price – one with no-annual contract, friendly service, uncomplicated plans and the mobile phones and tablets you love.   All of Aio’s phone plans include unlimited talk, text, and data, with taxes and fees included – the price you see is the price you pay. Aio Wireless is a subsidiary of AT&T Inc.  Visit www.aiowireless.com to find out more.

Aio’s plan pricing includes applicable state and local taxes, and fees. Each unlimited plan includes a pre-established amount of high-speed-data access. Service is subject to Aio’s Terms and Conditions of Service and Unreasonable Use Policy. Coverage and services are not available everywhere.

* $5 savings provided as an account credit at the end of each billing cycle while enrolled in Auto Pay. Auto Pay credit requires Auto Pay enrollment with a new Basic, Smart or Pro plan. Terms, conditions and restriction apply.

A Path into the Woods: Vietnam Vet’s New Book of Poetry Exposes Battles and Victories of the Human Experience

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 1 COMMENT

Written by Barry Hart and drawing on his many experiences as a U.S. Marine Combat veteran, ‘A Path into the Woods’ throws readers into life’s harsh realities, while celebrating the deep connections and power of kinship. Aside from its obvious therapeutic value, the book is also a vital vehicle for funding numerous veteran-centric charities.


PARIS, TN – As a Vietnam veteran who has been blighted by the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Barry Hart knows that life isn’t easy. However, while his younger years often found him experiencing life’s worst, Hart’s subsequent years as a successful businessman, pastor and pillar of the community have proven that kinship and hope will always prevail.

Inspired by his own life, Hart has condensed the human experience into a compelling new book of poetry titled, ‘A Path into the Woods’. Written for veterans and civilians alike, life’s triumphs and defeats are brought to life through moving and vivid verses that are as therapeutic as they are gripping.

Synopsis:

A Path into the Woods is a book of poetry that sings the truth about being in the hard places of life, but is tempered with the sensitivity and tenderness of an artist. The poems tell more than what the words say about personal experiences in combat, dealing with residual issues, growing up with family and friends, and the poems are filled with honesty. While the author wrote this book as therapy, he discovered something profound about himself during the journey.

“One main theme that runs throughout is my battle with PTSD, something millions of veterans suffer from. I want to encourage these fellow service people to open up and share their experiences, while urging others in wider society to recognize that it is okay to bring these issues out into the open and discuss them publicly,” says Hart, an Ordained Elder with the Church of the Nazarene.

Continuing, “It often isn’t easy because of the stigma that the disorder brings with it. If we can quash this and create an environment of honest discussion, therapy will work itself naturally. My book is a catalyst for this therapy and, having felt invigorated after writing it, I can vouch for the power of breaking one’s personal silence.”

Since its release, the book has garnered a string of rave reviews.

“Crackling with the heat of battle and the intensity of kinship, Barry Hart’s poetry alternately sears and comforts. With rhythms as tight as a drum cadence and imagery as sharp and clear as broken glass, he tackles the tough questions in life while also celebrating the deep connections we all share. The poems in this collection are unflinchingly honest and often tenderly funny. Ranging widely through the territory of human experience, there are poems here for your mom, your grandchild, and for your battle buddy,” says Ruth Saxey-Reese of Boise State University.

Author Mike Freeland adds, “These poems tell more than words can tell. Listen carefully between the lines to fully appreciate the range of wonder and magic. When I first read Barry’s poems, I said to myself this guy is for real.”

‘A Path into the Woods’ is available now. Upon making a purchase, readers will have an opportunity to donate all net proceeds to a veteran’s charity or organization of their choice.

For more information, visit: http://www.hartbn.com.

About the Author:

Barry Hart enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of seventeen and is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin, receiving a bachelor’s degree in criminal and social behavior, and now lives in Tennessee with his wife, Ronda. They have six children and ten grandchildren. Barry is an Ordained Elder with the Church of the Nazarene and a retired pastor. He has written numerous articles for Southern Lawman Magazine and has authored five children books. Barry is currently working on his second volume of poetry and a volume of his favorite eulogies and sermons.

TimeLine Theatre Company announces special Timepieces Play Reading Events featuring visiting Australian Playwrights on Sunday, February 23

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
CHICAGO, IL — TimeLine Theatre Company, in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Australian Consulate, announces that it will host several of Australia’s best and brightest performance writers for a day of discussion and play readings on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street, Chicago.
Writers Reg Cribb, Tom Holloway, Lally Katz and Maxine Mellor are visiting Chicago as part of a tour of the United States that also takes them to Los Angeles and New York City this month. The tour has been organized by the Australian organization Inscription, led by its director Marcus West. Founded in 1998, Inscription collaborates with leading artists from Australia and the United States to script, sharpen and present quality content across theatre, film and television.
All events are free and open to the public, but space is limited and reservations are strongly recommended. Call the TimeLine Theatre Box Office at 773.281.8463 x6 or email boxoffice@timelinetheatre.com to request reservations to any individual or all events.
EVENT SCHEDULE
11 am – 11:45 am: Panel Discussion moderated by Chris Jones, chief theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune, and featuring playwrights Reg Cribb, Tom Holloway, Lally Katz, Maxine Mellor, and Inscription Director Marcus West.
12 pm – 1:30 pm: Reading of Forget Me Not by Tom Holloway
Gerry is almost 60 and he’s going to meet his mother for the first time since he was 3. His mother lives somewhere in the UK—Liverpool, according to the records—and his daughter Sally has had it up to here with him and his problems. So Gerry is going back to Britain to find out what made him who he is. Between 1945 and the late 1960s more than 3,000 British children were told they were orphans and sent to Australia on a promise of warmth, fresh air, abundant food and boundless opportunity. Instead they arrived to deprived institutions where neglect and abuse were the norm. Playwright Tom Holloway has written a series of raw, achingly beautiful conversations between members of a scattered family. Drawing the whole thing together is Gerry’s extraordinary, precarious bid to finally learn what it means to love and belong to a family.
1:45 pm – 3 pm: Reading of A Golem Story by Lally Katz
Ahava, a young Jewish woman, wakes up in the Synagogue. She has been through a traumatic ordeal. Her memory is weak, her heart is broken. She has woken into a desperate time, in a desperate place. On the cobblestone streets of medieval Prague, chaos reigns. As the men fight their own demons and each other, children are disappearing. An invisible emperor has decreed a purging of the Ghetto, and a Rabbi works through the dark night to fashion an avenging monster, a man made out of clay. The Golem. A love, mystery and revenge story.
All events will take place on the 5th Floor of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street, in downtown Chicago, with the panel discussion taking place in the Millennium Park Room and both play readings taking place in the Washington Room.
“The 2014 U.S. Tour is designed with three key focuses in mind,” said Inscription Director Marcus West. “We’ll be promoting the writers’ work through public readings, pitch meetings and targeted circulation of their portfolios, and engaging with U.S.-based producers to forge stronger creative and commercial ties. And finally, this tour is about knowledge—writers will absorb as much information as possible regarding getting their work produced in America and sharpening their scriptwriting skills.”
“TimeLine is thrilled to collaborate with some of Australia’s leading playwrights and the dynamic organization Inscription,” said Artistic Director PJ Powers. “Our TimePieces play reading series aims to showcase new and rarely produced plays, as well as emerging playwrights, and the day-long events on February 23 allow us to expand our scope to work with and promote writers from across the globe to Chicago’s theater community.”

Illinois hospitals, healthcare facilities & worksites encouraging reduced consumption of sugary beverages as part of Rethink Your Drink Month

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL- As leaders in supporting healthy communities, hospitals, healthcare facilities and worksites around the state are working to reduce sugary beverage consumption as part of Rethink Your Drink Month in Illinois.

On the heels of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s declaration making February 2014 Rethink Your Drink Month, the American Medical Association, the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, KishHealth System (DeKalb County), MacNeal Hospital (Berwyn), the five health and hospital systems serving DuPage County and the Healthy Southern Illinois Delta Network are urging patients and employees to reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Our hospitals offer a variety of incentive programs to encourage healthier beverages choices. One offers a punch card to earn free beverages and another is doing a ‘Meal of the Day’ program, where free water is included with that meal option,” said Ann Marchetti, DuPage County FORWARD.

With an average of ten teaspoons of sugar in a single 12 oz serving of soda, the Rethink Your Drink campaign is urging people to “go on green,” drinking plenty of beverages such as water, seltzer water and skim or one- percent milk. Equally important, the campaign recommends that people “stop on red” by rarely, if ever, drinking beverages such as regular sodas, energy or sports drinks and sweetened coffee or tea.

“Hospitals can support the health of the community they serve by having policies and environments that encourage healthy beverage choices and reduce the risk of obesity and related chronic diseases,” said Elissa Bassler, CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute, which convenes IAPO.

KishHealth System has taken up the charge by adopting a nutritional color-coding system in its cafeterias for beverages and the salad bar using colored utensils and the Rethink Your Drink red/yellow/green traffic light messages. “We are thrilled to  step up to the challenge and make healthy eating easier. As places of healing, hospitals have a natural incentive to provide food and beverages that are healthy for people and the environment,” says Brad Copple, President, Kishwaukee & Valley West Hospitals.

Rethink Your Drink posters are displayed near vending machines at the participating hospitals and health centers to encourage patients to select healthy beverages.

In 2012, MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, sports and energy drinks from cafeterias and vending machines. “We eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages to be consistent with our mission to promote health and prevent disease. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been directly linked to obesity in research studies and obesity is linked to chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer,” said MacNeal’s CEO, Scott Steiner.

Students from the American Medical Student Association are also placing posters around their medical colleges and training hospitals to spread the word.

Employers are also well-positioned to be champions in addressing the obesity epidemic. Considering all the time employees spend at work, employers can make a substantial impact on their employees’ health – an investment that pays off in lower healthcare costs and a more productive workforce.

Toward that end, as part of the We Choose Health initiative, the Healthy Southern Illinois Delta Network (HSIDN) and their partners will host a regional forum for worksites on February 26th. HSIDN is a partnership between Southern Illinois Healthcare, SIU School of Medicine, the health departments in the lower 16 counties of Illinois, and the local community coalitions.   Rethink Your Drink messaging for employers will be highlighted at the forum.

The Rethink Your Drink campaign is an initiative of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity, a coalition made up of more than 140 organizations across the state, which has focused on raising awareness of the health harms of sugary beverages since 2010.

To learn more about the Rethink Your Drink campaign, visit IAPO’s website at www.preventobesityil.org and ‘Like’ IAPO’s Facebook Page for event updates. To learn more facts about sugary drinks, visit http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/.

The primary goal of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity is to ensure that trends in obesity in Illinois are stable by 2015 and moving downward by 2018. The statewide coalition of over 140 organizations works to implement solutions to the obesity epidemic through coordinated and comprehensive policy, systems, and environmental changes.

*This message was funded in part by a grant from Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association

Illinois launches campaign to educate drivers about hand-held cellphone ban

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Illinois Tollway, Illinois Secretary of State, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and AAA launched a public awareness campaign to educate drivers about the hand-held cellphone ban.

The new law bans hand-held cellphone use except in an emergency and allows only for speakerphones and headsets that feature voice-activated or one-digit dialing. The new law, which took effect January 1, 2014, also imposes fines starting at $75 for drivers caught using a hand-held cellphone while driving.  Violators could pay $150 for repeat offenses and eventually have their driver’s licenses suspended.

“Distracted driving is a problem in Illinois and across the nation,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “This important campaign will help ensure the message gets through loud and clear – if you use a hand-held device while driving, you will get a ticket. Together, we can make Illinois’ roads safer.”

“These new laws are critical to making Illinois’ roads safer,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “Through this new campaign, we are getting the message out there to motorists that no phone call, text message, status update or tweet is as important as the lives of others.”

“Driving while using a hand-held cellphone is dangerous and can be deadly,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “Our goal is to educate drivers about the cellphone ban and, ultimately, reduce the number of crashes caused by distracted driving.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers using hand-held phones are four times more likely to get into a crash that causes injuries. At any given time of day, about 800,000 people are using hand-held cellphones while driving, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

“In Illinois, nearly 6,000 crashes occurred from 2008 to 2012 in which some form of driver distraction involving a cellphone was cited by police,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “All of these crashes are preventable – so we urge all Illinois motorists to just ‘Drop It and Drive’.

Illinois is the 12th state to ban the use of hand-held devices while driving. Texting while driving has been illegal in Illinois since 2010. Under the new state law, there are also stricter penalties following crashes in which electronic devices were being used at the time of collision. A crash causing great bodily harm can send a driver to prison for up to one year and a fatal crash can result in a prison sentence of up to three years. The previous law only allowed drivers to be charged with traffic violations.

“One hand off the wheel and talking on the cellphone or texting while driving is a dangerous risk with tragic consequences, said Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau. “Our officers and law enforcement partners across Illinois will have zero tolerance for motorists who choose to violate these laws and we want to remind everyone about the consequences,” he added.

The public awareness campaign will include the placement of posters on tollbooths, in retail outlets, rest stops, oases and driver’s license facilities; radio, television and billboard public service announcements; window clings; mailing inserts, signage on roadway message boards; newsletter articles and other tools to help educate Illinois residents about ban on hand-held cellphones. The campaign will also feature a website with downloadable public service announcements, ready-to-print fliers and posters, a fact sheet and links to other useful online resources.

“It is our goal to get the word out that using hand-held devices while driving is not only an unnecessary risk that puts lives in danger, but it is also against the law in Illinois,” said Brad Brad Roeber, AAA Chicago Regional President. “We encourage motorists to drive responsibly by staying fully focused on the task of driving every time they get behind the wheel.”

For more information, please visit www.dropitanddriveillinois.com.

Principal Baruti Kafele launches “Message To Your Son” Video Series to Motivate Boys

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Jersey City, NJ (BlackNews.com) Renowned educator, Principal Baruti Kafele states emphatically that he has witnessed over the years enough mothers crying over their sons whom they have either lost to the streets or are slowly but surely losing to the streets. In an effort to help mothers rescue their sons and to in turn help their sons to develop the willingness to strive for excellence, he recently launched a YouTube video series entitled, Message to Your Son. It is comprised of over 100 short 3 – 6 minute “no frills, no edits, one-take” video clips where Principal Kafele speaks directly to boys of all ages and ethnicities about living productive lives.

A recipient of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) Hall of Fame Award, Principal Kafele knows something about motivating boys; particularly those labeled at-risk. As a former 14-year “Turnaround High School and Middle School Principal” in Newark and East Orange, NJ, he understood clearly the power in daily positive messages to students toward creating positive attitudes. He therefore took this approach to leading schools and applied it to development of Message to Your Son. Topics include but are not limited to: attitude, goal setting, planning, purpose, vision, determination, self-esteem, self-respect, decision-making, school behavior, bullying, distractions, temptations and so much more in an effort to motivate, educate and empower boys for success.

Parents are encouraged to watch theses videos along with their sons daily and to engage them in discussions over the topics viewed. Educators are also encouraged to show these videos in their schools and classrooms (girls can be present) as often as possible and to engage the boys, or all of the students in follow up discussions.  All content is most appropriate for school.

Message to Your Son is now 100+ videos strong, with a new video posted every Sunday morning. To view the entire series, please visit Principal Kafele’s website at www.PrincipalKafele.com and click the link to “Principal Kafele’s Message to Your Son” on his homepage which will take you directly to his YouTube channel.


About Principal Kafele
Milken National Educator, international-renowned speaker, educational consultant and best-selling author, Principal Baruti Kafele has excelled in the capacity of teacher and principal. As a teacher in NJ, he was selected as the district and county teacher of the year. As a principal, he led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban public schools, including Newark Tech, which was three times recognized by U.S. News and World Report Magazine as one of America’s best high schools. He is also the author of six books including his national best-seller, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life.

For more details, visit his web site at www.principalkafele.com or find him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/principalkafele) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/principalkafele).

Photo Caption: Principal Baruti Kafele

Illinois closes equity gap for Latino students on AP exams

Posted by Admin On February - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Percentage of Latino test takers exceeds percentage of Latino graduates overall as record number of Illinois students takes exams and excel; Leyden High School District 212 recognized for expanding access to AP courses and improving performance


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois is emerging as a national leader in closing the equity gap for Latino as well as low-income Advanced Placement test takers, providing additional access to college for these traditionally underserved populations, according to the 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation. The percent of Latino Class of 2013 graduates who took the rigorous Advanced Placement exams during high school surpassed the total percent of Latino graduates statewide, continuing a decade-long trend of continued Latino participation in these accelerated college-prep courses.

“Illinois has been a leader in closing the participation and success gap for Latino test takers on the prestigious AP exams, which is a huge step forward in achieving excellence and improving college access for our most vulnerable students,” said Christopher A. Koch State Superintendent of Education. “Illinois is committed to preparing all students for success in college and careers through equal yet challenging opportunities. The latest AP exam results are further proof that our efforts are on the right track.”

Advanced Placement exams measure a student’s content mastery of college-level studies in specific academic disciplines. The national report’s data show that Latino students comprised 18.4 percent of Illinois’ Class of 2013 but they represented 19.8 percent of graduates who took at least one AP exam during high school. Furthermore, the number of Latino graduates taking AP courses has more than quadrupled in the last decade with 8,661 in 2013 compared to 1,994 in 2003. The percent of Latino students scoring a 3 or higher, the recommended score for earning college credit, is also showing gains with 16.1 percent of those Latino test takers earning a 3 or higher in 2013, compared to 14.6 percent in 2012 and 8.1 percent in 2003.

Illinois and Florida are the only two states that have a Latino graduate population greater than 10 percent and were able to remove the equity gap in AP participation for these students.

As its student population grows more diverse and economically challenged, Illinois continues to see record numbers of graduates taking these rigorous tests, with the percentage of graduates earning successful scores today almost doubling the total number of graduates who took the exam 10 years ago.

As part of its Fiscal Year 2015 budget recommendation, the Illinois State Board of Education is seeking an additional $2 million to provide assistance to low-income students taking AP exams. More than half of Illinois’ 2 million public school students now qualify for free and reduced-price lunch at school.

Low-income students comprised 29.3 percent of graduates who took AP exams in 2013 compared to only 19 percent in 2008 and 12.1 percent in 2003. Meanwhile, the number of low-income graduates scoring a 3 or higher nearly tripled in the last five years from 1,969 or 9.7 percent in 2008 to 5,758 or 19.8 percent in 2013. Research shows that minority and low-income students who earn at least a 3 on an AP exam are more likely than their peers to earn higher degrees in college and a college degree within five years of enrolling.

“Illinois legislators and educators are obviously committed to broadening AP access to more low-income and minority students,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president who leads the Advanced Placement Program. “We congratulate them on their successes and encourage them as they move forward to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to reach their full potential.”

AP exams measure a student’s content mastery of college-level studies in specific academic disciplines. A total of 43,835 graduates took at least one AP exam during high school in 2013, more than double the 20,968 students who took the test in 2003.

Illinois ranks 13th in the nation for the percentage of 2013 graduates – 21.5 percent – who scored at least a 3 on an AP exam during their high school career. The national average is 20.1 percent. Additionally, the percentage of Illinois graduates who reached that benchmark grew by 8.5 percentage points from 13 percent in 2003, putting Illinois among only 17 states that exceeded the national average of graduates scoring a 3 or higher in 2013. The College Board and the American Council on Education (ACE) recommend that colleges and universities award credit for AP scores of 3 and higher on any AP exam.

“I’m pleased to see the continued growth of academic achievement by all students and the expanding access to these rigorous, college-level courses,” said State Board Chairman Gery Chico. “The AP Program offers students the skills they need for college success, and we are pleased to see dramatic growth in the number of students participating and succeeding in this program.”

Leyden High School District 212 named AP District of the Year

This year’s report recognized an Illinois school district as a national leader in increasing access to AP courses for all students while also achieving improved performance. Leyden High School District 212 is the College Board Advanced Placement ® Equity and Excellence District of the Year for small school districts, defined as fewer than 8,000 students.

Leyden was one of 30 Illinois school districts and a total of 477 districts overall in the United States and Canada that earned a spot on the Annual AP District Honor Roll. Three AP Districts of the Year were selected from this list for each category of district population size – small, medium and large – based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data.

From 2010 to 2013, Leyden:

· Increased student participation in AP courses by 17 percent annually;

· Increased the percentage of AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam by 7 percent annually, with 64 percent of their AP students scoring a 3 or higher in 2013; and

· Increased the percentage of traditionally underserved minority AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 16 percent annually — an increase of 50 students last year.

“At Leyden, we pride ourselves on setting high standards and giving all students the resources and supports they need to be successful, including equal access to AP curriculum,” said Leyden Superintendent Nick Polyak. “Teachers and counselors work with individual students to give them an accurate understanding of each AP course’s requirements and encourage them to consider these challenging courses whenever possible to help expose and prepare them for the rigors of college.”

Leyden promotes academic achievement through several successful initiatives, including a literacy plan started in 2009 and the launch of A Caring Community Ensuring Student Success (ACCESS) program in 2005, which involves more than 50 staff members and 200 upperclassmen mentors who help all high school freshmen make a smooth transition to high school and continued support. Each Leyden student also receives a wireless Chromebook laptop to cultivate enhanced connection, communication and collaboration. Additionally, Leyden recognizes students who meet criteria in eight different areas, including taking at least one AP course during high school, with an Excellence Award.

Leyden and the two other winning districts will be honored during the AP Annual Conference in Philadelphia in July.

Other highlights

Other highlights of the 10th annual AP Report to the Nation include:

· Black/African-American students comprised 11.1 percent of 2013 graduates who took at least one AP exam, compared to 6.9 percent in 2003. Though the number of Black/African-American graduates who took AP exams dipped between 2012 and 2013, more of these students are scoring a 3 or higher than ever before. The number of Black/African-American students who scored a 3 or higher nearly tripled from 445 in 2003 to 1,322 in 2013.

· History and social sciences had the greatest number of graduates scoring a 3 or higher.

· The ten most popular AP exams taken by the class of 2013 are English language and composition, U.S. history, English literature and composition, Psychology, calculus AB, U.S. government and politics, biology, Spanish language, statistics and macroeconomics.

For the latest news from the Illinois State Board of Education, follow 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.


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