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Archive for April 6th, 2015

Community Residents Deliver Letter to the Mayor to Pressure Him to Follow Through With His Promise to Protect Southeast Side Residents from Koch Brothers and Their Toxic Pet Coke

Posted by Admin On April - 6 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago City Council has not met its own March 31st deadline to limit the amount of Petroleum Coke entering the city and set daily storage limits on the Southeast Side pet coke facilities. This is a concern to the families in the community of Southeast Chicago and they are calling for the throughput limit to be zero.

“Everyday I see black water used to suppress the dust. The water is carried in the wind and it mists over me when I’m walking my dogs,” Mari Barboza says about the dust suppression system KCBX installed to keep pet coke dust down.

“The pet coke has not ceased to appear in my window sills, in my dogs water bowls and I’m sure its also getting into my lungs and my family’s lungs too,” Barboza said. Barboza has been calling for a complete ban on pet coke and has been organizing with the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Pet Coke for nearly two years.

One Day Before Election Day, Barboza and other community leaders will deliver a letter to Mayor Emmanuel today to put pressure on him to follow through with his promise to put the people of Chicago before polluters.

Families and community activist have been working together to kick the pet coke piles out of Chicago and away from residential areas. In February, KCBX announce it would stop storing pet coke and convert into a transfer point for the product.

“We don’t know if they’re going to be sitting there for a day or processed hour by hour, we just don’t know. It’s too open-ended,” said Peggy Salazar of the Southeast Environmental Task Force and 10th Ward resident about KCBX’s new plans. She pointed out that the site would continue to be a center of industry.

“The neighbors are still hoping it will be gone from the neighborhood,” said Tom Shepherd, also of the task force. “They want it out.”

The voters in the 10th ward signaled their desire for a ban of pet coke transport and storage from their neighborhood at the February 24th municipal election. With 86 percent of voters overwhelmingly passing a non-binding referendum to ban the product.

Olga Bautista a lifelong resident on the front lines of this battle –is calling on voters in the 10th Ward to stay strong and continue to demand that pet coke be banned altogether as other U.S. cities have done. She blames 10th Ward Alderman John Pope, for rolling out the red carpet for KCBX while introducing “phony, toothless ordinances” and falsely minimizing the dangers of pet coke exposure.

“Rahm Emanuel and John Pope said they would ‘regulate pet coke out of Chicago.’ Obviously, that strategy has failed. We need our elected officials to protect the people, not the polluters,” Bautista says.

The coalition is committed to organizing and building political power in the southeast side of Chicago. Apart from removing the toxic pet coke piles, they want the city to strictly regulate dirty energy and move towards clean, renewable and sustainable energy.

What: Community leaders deliver letter to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to pressure him to follow through with his promise to protect the community of Southeast Chicago from the Koch Brothers and their toxic pet coke.

When: April 6, 2015

Where: City of Chicago City Hall 121 N. LaSalle St.

Time: 9:30 AM

Reaching a Comprehensive and Long-Term Deal on Iran’s Nuclear Program: President Obama’s Weekly Address

Posted by Admin On April - 6 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President described the historic understanding the United States – with our allies and partners – reached with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and will make our country, our allies, and our world safer. The deal, announced on Thursday, meets our core objectives of cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. It is both comprehensive and long-term, and includes robust and intrusive inspections of the country’s nuclear program. The President reiterated that the deal is not yet done – and if there is backsliding from Iran in the months to come, there will be no deal. He echoed his belief that a diplomatic resolution is by far the best option, and promised to continue to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance and progress of the negotiations in the months to come.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, April 4, 2015.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
April 4, 2015

This week, together with our allies and partners, we reached an historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and make our country, our allies, and our world safer.

This framework is the result of tough, principled diplomacy. It’s a good deal — a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

This deal denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb. It shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Moreover, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

And this is a long-term deal, with strict limits on Iran’s program for more than a decade and unprecedented transparency measures that will last for 20 years or more. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.

In return for Iran’s actions, the international community, including the United States, has agreed to provide Iran with phased relief from certain sanctions. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place. Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, all will continue to be enforced.

As I said this week, many key details will need to be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal.

Here in the United States, I expect a robust debate. We’ll keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal. As we engage in this debate, let’s remember—we really only have three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities—which will only set its program back a few years—while starting another war in the Middle East; abandoning negotiations and hoping for the best with sanctions—even though that’s always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program; or a robust and verifiable deal like this one that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As President and Commander in Chief, I firmly believe that the diplomatic option—a comprehensive, long-term deal like this—is by far the best option. For the United States. For our allies. And for the world.

Our work — this deal — is not yet done. Diplomacy is painstaking work. Success is not guaranteed. But today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. And this will be our work in the days and months ahead in keeping with the best traditions of American leadership.

Black Press Columnist Battles for Life After Being Diagnosed With ALS

Posted by Admin On April - 6 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Part I of a Two-part Series:

‘First, You Cry’: Black Press Columnist Battles for Life  After ‘Devastating’ Diagnosis


By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – For the past 22 years, Jim Clingman has published his cutting edge “Blackonomics” column in Black-owned weekly newspapers around the country. The column mainly pushes for economic justice, which he views as a core necessity for Black progress in America.

But as this award-winning columnist, author of four books, college professor, entrepreneurship expert, speaker and businessman continues to fight with his pen, Clingman, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, is suddenly engaged in an unexpected and devastating personal battle. It is a battle for his own life – and quality of life.

Eighteen months ago, doctors diagnosed Jim Clingman with ALS, the gradually debilitating disease that leads to partial or total paralysis of the body and a most often two to five year lifespan after diagnosis. It is the ailment that has become known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”, named for the professional baseball player that died from it in 1941 at the age of 37.

Many have learned of ALS from the so-called “ice bucket challenge” that has raised more than $100 million to research the mysterious illness. Despite the popularity and positive results of the challenge, it can effectually belie the physical, emotional and mental suffering of those who have been diagnosed with it.

“We should not let the celebrity and the novelty overshadow the seriousness of this disease. It’s a terrible disease,” Clingman says in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “It’s a terminal illness. They just kind of throw up their hands and try to figure out what they can do to help you manage because there’s no cure. People who know, know that it’s devastating. People who don’t know, they may ask what does that mean?”

According to the ALS Association (ALSA.org), here is what it means:

“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.”

If that’s too clinical, Jim Clingman, in his vintage, matter-of-fact style of communicating, makes it simple: “It’s like having a stroke one neuron at a time,” he says. “It’s very slow. It’s subtle. But it’s determined. It’s deliberate. It’s a literal assault on your body. And every day you get up you do inventory: ‘Let me see, is this still working okay? Is that still working okay?’ And you know we have billions of neurons, so it’s like a death by a thousand cuts. A slow process, but a deliberate process.”

So far, the creeping symptoms which he first noticed six years ago in 2009 with a weak foot that caused him to stumble when he tried to bowl, have gradually grown into the loss of his ability to walk without help from a walker to sturdy himself. The weakened muscles in his feet and calves have also ended his beloved 35-year bicycling activity. But because the disease is so mysterious, he recalls how just getting to an actual diagnosis was literally a roller coaster.

First, in 2010, he went to a doctor who said he had a spinal stenosis, which means a nerve in someone’s back, protruding through the vertebrae and irritably rubbing on the bone.

The doctor said, “it’s pretty simple to fix” by shaving the bone so the rubbing couldn’t happen, Clingman recounts.

Attempting to avoid the surgery, he went through a few months of therapy first. But, then he noticed that his left calf was becoming smaller than the right and that his left leg had become weaker.

So, in November 2011, he went ahead and got the back surgery, which healed in a few weeks. But, it was his wife, Sylvia, a nurse, who said “it didn’t look like my walk was getting any better…I had back surgery for nothing.”

Then, “I did every test known to man. I went to two neurologists who just threw up their hands and said, ‘I don’t know what this is.'”

Finally, a doctor gave him a battery of tests, “An MRI, cat scans, blood work. He had to rule out everything: Cancer, MS, Parkinson’s disease.”

Then, on Aug. 23, 2013, he received the devastating news. For a healthy man then 69, an avid cyclist who could ride a hundred miles on his bicycle, the diagnosis literally rocked his world.

“I’ve never spent a night in the hospital, never had a broken bone, never been sick other than just a cold. When I was a child, I had measles and chicken pox, that kind of thing. But, I never had anything lingering or wrong with me physically. I’ve always been pretty active, even up to a couple of years ago…So, this was like devastating, you know.”

Now, 18 months since the diagnosis, Clingman is beginning to feel the effects in his upper limbs.

“I can feel a little something in my fingers and arms feeling weaker than normal. As I sit here and write, I sometimes miss the keys, making more mistakes.”

And then there’s the mind-numbing prognosis. Typically, ALS patients live between two and five years after diagnoses, according to the National Institute of Health.

But Jim Clingman – and his family – are anything but typical. Alongside his wife, Sylvia, a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and his daughter, Kiah, a graduating senior at the Howard University School of Communications, this family is standing on their spiritual faith in God while doing all they can in the natural to fight.

“It’s a day to day thing. I have to put it like that. I try to look at the positives like the fact that it started in my foot instead of in my face. It can start in arms, hands, etc. The doctor told me, ‘If there’s anything good about this it’s where it started in you because it started in your foot and has to work its way up.'”

The ALS Association reports that about 30,000 people in the U. S. are currently diagnosed with ALS. About 5,600 people are diagnosed with it each year.

Meanwhile, there is only one drug for ALS that is approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s called Riluzole. A blue bottle of it sits on Clingman’s desk in a den otherwise surrounded by photos of loved ones, books – lots of books – of course his computer, and his walker nearby.

Riluzole “slows progression of ALS but does not cure it,” according to NIH. The agency also reports studies that conclude that Riluzole only prolongs life for a range of months.

“It keeps your diaphragm from collapsing, which would prevent breathing,” Clingman explains. But, other, even better medications are being studied.

The New York Times reported in February this year that a new ALS medication called GM6 – still in experimental stages – has now shown to “dramatically slow down the progression” of ALS. The article reports that after using the drug, at least one man “showed small improvements in speech and swallowing, and certain proteins used to signal disease progression actually moved back toward the normal range.”

But, the article, written by Angelina Fanous, a 29-year-old who has been diagnosed with ALS, comes to a similar conclusion that Clingman expressed in the interview.

Fanous writes, “Unfortunately, given the length of time it takes to win approval for a new drug, it will be about 12 years, $4 billion and many more deaths before GM6 makes it into my medicine cabinet. I will be in a wheelchair, using a feeding tube, or dead by then.”

Genervon, the maker of GM6, which it calls GM604, posted a press release on its website March 21 saying it met with the FDA in February and “we have filed a formal request for the Accelerated Approval (AA) Program and are now waiting for a final decision.”

Meanwhile Genervon stresses, “In the U.S., it is illegal to access GM604 without FDA approval or outside a clinical trial.”

An online petition, already signed by a half million people at Change.org, offers some hope to influence the FDA to accelerate approval. Here’s the URL: https://www.change.org/p/lisa-murkowski-fda-accelerated-approval-of-genervon-s-gm604-for-use-in-als

The petition appeals to U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee; as well as Janet Woodcock, the doctor who is director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation & Research. About 18 other people, including senators and FDA administrators are also listed.

ALS notwithstanding, Jim Clingman is up for this fight. He is well aware of the petition and hopeful that millions will sign it and that the powers that be will listen.

“The FDA and the bureaucrats won’t allow it to be used…The petition asks them to accelerate the process.”

But, as he waits, he and his family are leaning on their faith, which right now, is everything.

“If I didn’t have that Hazel, I’d be a wreck. I know it. Doctors give death sentences, but God gives life sentences – eternal life.”

He recalls his initial response after receiving the diagnosis, captured in his now daily journal writings. In a nutshell, he says, “First You Cry.”

Next Week, Part II of ‘First You Cry’: Jim Clingman – His Family, Their Faith and Their Fight

Photo Caption: Veteran Black press columnist Jim Clingman has been diagnosed with ALS.

PHOTO: Kiah Clingman

Rapper Jay-Z Announces 2015 Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship

Posted by Admin On April - 6 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Nationwide — The Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship provides financial support to high school students as well as undergraduate students entering college for the first time. The purpose of the scholarship is to help under-served students who may not be eligible for other scholarships.

Students who have either graduated from high school or earned their G.E.D. may apply. Minimum grade point average is 2.0. Students must have a strong desire to go to college and earn their degree. Students must also have a desire to give back to their communities.

The scholarship fund was established by Gloria Carter and and her son Shawn Carter (better known as rapper/ business mogul Jay-Z) to offer a unique opportunity to students who have been incarcerated or faced particular life challenges but still want to pursue higher education.

For more details and/or to apply, visit:
www.scholarshipsonline.org/2013/05/shawn-carter-foundation-scholarship.html
To search hundreds of other 2015 scholarships, visit:
www.ScholarshipsOnline.org

Hip Hop Artists to Perform at “Selma at 50: Still Marching” Spring Conference

Posted by Admin On April - 6 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Chicago Theological Seminary announced that emcee and community activist Jasiri X and rapper and humanitarian artist Jessica Disu (aka FM Supreme) will be participating in theiir 2015 Spring Conference, “Selma at 50: Still Marching.”

“Selma at 50: Still Marching” is a two-day conference taking place on the CTS campus Friday, April 24th and Saturday, April 25th that will encourage attendees to examine the systemic causes of social issues, including the prison industrial complex and militarized policing, violence, racism, income inequality, and poverty to create actionable strategies leading to change. “We are delighted to have these two artists who are deeply involved in grassroots activism performing and speaking at this event,” President Alice Hunt said. “Artists have always used their talents to inspire people and reflect back the state of culture, inspiring change. Jasiri and Jessica are living proof that the legacy Selma left is long and deep and that activism manifests in many voices and ways. Their gifted commentary on current culture and events brings welcomed energy to our work,” she added.

Jasiri X will perform Friday afternoon, April 24, and FM Supreme will close the conference on Saturday afternoon, April 25, with student finalists from Louder Than a Bomb. The artists join an impresive line up of scholars, activists and thought leaders, including Michelle Alexander, Rev, Jesse Jackson, Sr., DeRay Mckesson, Sylvia Puente, Linda Sarsour and others.

View the full speaker line up and register by visiting selma.ctschicago.edu.

Born and raised in Chicago, Jessica Disu, also known as FM Supreme, uses language as a tool for positive change. She’s a three-time international performing poet, artist, activist, and educator who describes herself as a “humanitarian rap artist.” As a two-time champion of Louder Than a Bomb, the Chicago youth poetry festival, Disu has also served as coach and youth leader in that slam and others. Her commitment to mentoring youth extends across the globe. Recently, she toured Southeast Asia visiting Bangkok, Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) with The Peace Exchange: Chicago – Asia 2013. The Peace Exchange is a community-based, educationally focused, and young adult-led effort to understand violence and foster peace in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods.

As a performer, Disu has shared stages and performed at conferences with the likes of Russell Simmons, Lupe Fiasco, MC Lyte, Nick Cannon, Spike Lee, Melissa Harris Perry (MSNBC/Tulane University), Chuck D (Public Enemy), Q Tip (A Tribe Called Quest), and a host of other activists, policy makers, and elected officials committed to decreasing violence in inner city communities. FM Supreme is the founder of Chicago International Youth Peace Movement and co-founder of The Peace Exchange: Chicago – Asia 2013.

Jasiri X is an emcee, community activist, and the creative force and artist behind the groundbreaking internet news series “This Week with Jasiri X,” which has garnered critical acclaim and attracted thousands of internet subscribers and millions of views. From the controversial viral video What if the Tea Party was Black? to the hard-hitting hilarity of Republican Women . . . stay away from me, Jasiri cleverly uses Hip-Hop to provide social commentary on a variety of issues. His videos have been featured on web sites as diverse as Allhiphop.com and The Huffington Post. Jasiri has also been a guest on BET’s Rap City, The Michael Baisden Show, Free Speech TV Left of Black, and Russia Today.

Jasiri first came to prominence in the national and international Hip-Hop scene with the powerful hit song Free the Jena 6, which was played on more than 100 radio stations and was named “Hip-Hop Political Song of the Year.” His debut album American History X was named album of the year at the Pittsburgh Hip-Hop awards. He recently became the first Hip-Hop artist to receive the coveted August Wilson Center for African American Culture Fellowship. A founding member of the anti-violence group One Hood, Jasiri started the 1Hood Media Academy to teach young African American boys how to analyze and create media for themselves.

Jasiri X has performed around the world from New York City to Berlin, and toured colleges and universities presenting his innovative workshop, “How to Succeed in Hip-Hop without Selling Your Soul.” He is also working on a book of the same name. Jasiri blogs for Jack and Jill Politics, Daveyd.com and The Black Youth Project. He recently signed a record deal with Wandering Worx entertainment and released his first record with them, Ascension, created with acclaimed producer Rel!g!on.

About Chicago Theological Seminary
Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) is a seminary affiliated with the United Church of Christ serving over twenty-five different Christian and non-Christian faith communities by preparing men and women for the next generation of religious leadership, whatever that may be. Founded in 1855, CTS promotes a progressive, forward-looking philosophy and is at the forefront of religious scholarship, interreligious dialogue and transformative leadership. CTS graduates, students, faculty and staff have been advocates for social justice and mercy since the days of the Underground Railroad.

Chicago Theological Seminary helps individuals discern and articulate an evolving faith for the future, whether in ministry, teaching, advocacy, activism, social work or social justice.

Civil Rights Icon Dolores Huerta Endorses Garcia for Chicago Mayor

Posted by Admin On April - 6 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Huerta, Garcia convene listening session with Latina leaders just three days before election

CHICAGO, IL – Nationally renowned labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta publicly endorsed Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for mayor this morning at La Catrina Cafe in Pilsen during an open discussion with Garcia and more than 30 Latina leaders in the business, government and the non-profit sectors.

In 1962, Huerta and Cesar Chavez co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, the organization which later became the United Farm Workers.

“Dolores Huerta has spent a lifetime pushing back against employers and elected officials who have the wrong priorities for workers and make bad choices for our neighborhoods,” said Garcia. “She understands how much Mr. Emanuel’s agenda has hurt the people of this city, and I’m deeply honored to have her support.”

The wide-ranging morning conversation between Garcia, Huerta and the Latina civic leaders dealt with topics ranging from the battle against education privatization to strategies to tackle homelessness. A key focus was the challenges that ordinary Chicagoans in the wake of four years of broken promises, bad choices and wrong priorities from the Emanuel administration, and Garcia’s lifelong track record of fighting for the needs of ordinary people.

Participants stressed the need to stop school closures and provide public schools and teachers with the resources they need to give students a strong start in life.

“We need a good public education system for all of the nation’s children,” said Huerta. ”This city’s current mayor has the wrong priorities to make that happen for the children in all of Chicago’s neighborhood.”

Participants also called for a fair and equitable system of immigration reform. “I will push forward with comprehensive immigration reform next year at the Democratic National Convention,” promised Huerta. “And I will push both political parties to embrace this issue.”

Economic issues were another top concern — including the need to ensure that all local families and kids have stable housing, an issue that Garcia first focused on in his late teens. “I’m committed to working with Chicago’s school superintendent to come up with concrete strategies that help the 22,000 students in Chicago’s public schools who face unstable housing,” said Garcia.

Huerta talked about the groundswell of excitement at the national level for Chuy’s campaign. “In California, the state is abuzz. This is a historic race not only in Chicago but also across the United States,” Huerta said.

Participants closed out the gathering with a collective commitment to support Garcia and his policies by working to get out the vote on April 7.

First PARCC Test Administration Off to a Smooth Start

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Students will take the second portion of the two-part PARCC assessment starting in late April and early May

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Schools across the state report a strong start for the first administration of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment and praise the new exam’s utility, technological features and ability to engage students.

Since testing began last month, more than 1.4 million PARCC Performance-Based Assessment (PBA) test sessions have been completed by Illinois students with no major technical difficulties reported. Schools are currently wrapping up the first portion of the two-part PARCC assessment, which is aligned to the new Illinois Learning Standards in English language arts and math and given to most third- through eighth-graders and some high school students.

“This is a historic moment for Illinois as more than 75 percent of our students are expected to take the PARCC assessment online which provides for a more engaging experience and will reduce assessment costs going forward,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “I am proud of the hard work and preparation our schools have put in to ensure a smooth test administration and we’re confident that the end of year exam will go as well or better.”

School and district staff members say they are encouraged with how the PBA process has gone for both teachers and students.

“The implementation has been extremely successful,” said Melanie Gravel, principal of James C. Bush Elementary School in Johnsburg School District 12. “Our approach was to maintain a positive, professional and proactive attitude that embraces the changes with the assessment and to become as informed as possible so that we could prepare our students and staff.”

The McHenry County elementary was one of about 1,200 schools that participated in PARCC field testing in March 2014. The school has also provided its staff ongoing professional development to prepare for the PARCC exam. Students, in turn, have felt at ease during testing, Gravel said.

“I liked that the test was on a computer rather than on paper,” said Bush Elementary third-grade student Alina Bardell, who enjoys using electronic devices for spelling, writing and virtual field trips. “I thought it was easier being able to take the test on the computer.”

The PARCC assessment, the state’s only required test, improves upon the state’s previous assessment system. This summative assessment requires students to demonstrate critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills, reflecting the new learning standards and their emphasis on applying knowledge. Schools are wrapping up the administration of the first part, or Performance-Based-Assessment (PBA), which is given when about 75 percent of instruction is completed and consists of more extended tasks and writing exercises. The second part is the End-of-Year (EOY) assessment, which is given when approximately 90 percent of instruction is complete and consists of multiple choice questions. The EOY will be administered starting in late April and early May.

The PBA and EOY are two parts of the same test which are added together to result in one score. This summative assessment is not meant to measure progress from one portion to the next, but rather demonstrate whether or not students have learned the content provided and whether they are deemed proficient on the measured standards. The approximate total 8 to 10 hours of PARCC testing are spaced out over several sessions and the two parts to allow more time for scoring the extended tasks and writing portion of the PBA. Schools are encouraged to give students no more than two sessions of PARCC testing per day. In total, the PARCC’s testing time represents less than one percent of students’ instructional time this school year.

Jane Addams Elementary School in Springfield School District 186 also participated in last year’s PARCC field test.

“Having had the opportunity to pilot the PBA last spring, we noticed improvements to the system, which made test administration easier and resolved tech problems,” Principal Jennifer Hanson said. “Teachers reported students remained engaged during testing and had a good understanding of how to use the online tools.”

In Frankfort School District 157-C, the testing process has been “flawless” as students enjoy the PARCC exam’s technology-enhanced items, said Director of Curriculum and Instruction Janet McClarence.

“They are excited to get a video clip and to have some interactive tools to use. It isn’t just another paper-and-pencil test activity. It is an exciting, engaging format for them,” McClarence said. “We really had far less students who were distracted or gave up, like we’ve seen in the past.”

Frankfort’s teachers echoed this enthusiasm, Director of Technology Jacob Nelson said.

“Everyone was pleased with how smoothly the test went and the overwhelming majority would say they hope they never see another pencil-and-paper test again,” he said. “The old days of sorting out the test and paper packets and inventorying them and collecting them back and counting everything are now over.”

Nelson and McClarence credited the user manuals, webinars and other support documents and resources provided by the Illinois State Board of Education with giving their district the knowledge and tools they needed to train staff and prepare for a successful administration.

Training, staff collaboration and technology planning were also priorities for the staff at Crone Middle School in Indian Prairie School District 204, where Principal Allan Davenport said testing has gone well for the 1,200-plus students taking the exam online. Every staff member was trained to administer the PARCC assessment, and the school assembled a “PARCC team” composed of Assistant Principal and Testing Coordinator Erica Vuilleumier and 10 other teachers.

“The teachers and I initially had more anxiety about it but once the first day of testing was done for all teachers, they would say, ‘That was really smooth,’” Vuilleumier said. “Everyone feels much more confident in the whole process. Going into the EOY, we know what to expect.”

The PARCC assessment will report the extent to which students have learned the grade-level material in English language arts/literacy and mathematics that will prepare them for the next grade level and eventually for college and career.

Later this year, families will have access to reports on the initial PARCC assessment results with more detailed information about student performance on each portion of the assessment. This year’s results are expected to take additional time to produce because this first year of student scores will be used to set cut scores that determine the performance levels at which students can be deemed “college and career ready.” In subsequent years, those results will be available in a timelier manner to direct intervention and support as needed.

More than 13 million students in 29 states across the country are expected to take the PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessment system, the only two tests that were designed to measure achievement under the new learning standards.

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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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