26
May , 2017
Friday

For minimum wage, vows to reopen Meigs Field Will bring casino to city and ...
(From the IL GOP Party)                                                                                            “I believe in competition, so I want competitive ...
EVANSTON, IL – Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, AFSP’s Illinois chapter has already reached ...
CHICAGO, IL - Hundreds of Palestinians and their supporters joined Chicago Coalition for Justice in ...
Chicago, IL - A coalition of Latino elected officials from throughout Chicago and Cook County on ...
CHICAGO, IL  - The price for this year's ...
Releases longer version of birth certificate   By Chinta Strausberg   Amazed that network stations ran his press conference ...
WASHINGTON, D.C. – CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield released the following statement recognizing the installation ...
New Federal Rule Helps States Plan for Historic Funding Increases The Department of Justice today published ...
  City of Chicago’s Small Business Center Partners with The PrivateBank to Offer Certificate Program Graduates ...

Archive for the ‘Living/Views’ Category

Teachers at Chicago’s Passages Elementary to Strike May 25 – First Charter Strike in U.S. History

Posted by Admin On May - 22 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

 

Management won’t budge on opposition to financial transparency, insistence on bottom-of-the-barrel spending on immigrant and refugee students and frontline staff.

 

CHICAGO, IL – Union educators at Passages Charter School announced that they will formally strike — and hit the picket lines — on May 25 if they are unable to reach a fair contract agreement with charter management by midnight, May 24. Teachrers voted unanimously to strike on May 4, but held off from setting a date in the hopes that management would move from a hardline stance that includes rock-bottom wages, elimination of maternity and paternity leave, opposition to greater financial transparency, and insufficient resources to support classrooms.

 

Passages was one of the first charter schools created in Chicago, and today serves just under 500 students — including a large population of immigrant and refugee students of Asian and African heritage. Passages 47 union educators — teachers, teachers assistants and paraprofessionals — were certified last April as members of ChiACTS Local 4343, which represents 32 charter schools in Chicago. The school’s educators have been negotiating for a new contract since May of 2016.

The Passages strike would be the first of a charter school network in the nation.

“We really believe in the mission of this school and the students we serve, and it’s time for management to provide the resources we need to carry out that mission,” said third grade teacher Gina Mengarelli, a member of Passages’ ChiACTS bargaining team. “None of us wants to strike – we want to be in our classrooms with our students. And our bargaining team is committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith with AHS in hopes of reaching a fair contract. But if it takes a strike to force AHS to make changes that improve the education of Passages’ students, then we will be on the picket line until we achieve those improvements.”

Passages’ refugee and immigrant students look to the school as an environment to support the hopes and dreams they bring to their new country. But management is failing those aspirations, say educators, by spending too much money on top brass and overhead compared to other single-site charters, and too little on staff and students. Many teachers with BAs and even master’s degrees earn salaries in the $30,000 – $40,000 range for work weeks that can top 60 hours. Spending on students’ education at Passages is also at rock bottom among comparable publicly funded charter schools in Chicago.

“One of the core reasons educators formed a union at Passages was to have more voice in decisions that affect their students,” said ChiACTS president Chris Baehrend. “We’ve been bargaining for a year for a contract that gives us that voice, and guarantees fair working conditions for teachers and staff and fair learning conditions for our students. Yet AHS to date has refused to make us an offer that provides for these most basic of demands. If it takes a strike to convince management that it’s time to put students and the teachers who are the backbone of their education first, then we have no choce but to strike.”

Management has not skimped on salaries for itself. For the most recent year for which figures are available, AHS — Asian Human Services, the agency that runs Passages — paid $540,000 in total to two people, their current and former CEOs — that’s over $1,000 per student in compensation for those two positions alone, compared to CPS CEO Forrest Claypool’s compensation of less than $2 per student. The current and former CEOs of AHS together earned more than double that of Claypool, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, who earns $250,000 per year to run a system of just under 400,000 students. By way of comparison, the combined current salaries for Passages’ 47 bargaining unit members is $1.7 million, with teachers’ compensation averaging over 20% lower than that at comparable Chicago charter schools..

Despite repeated requests and FOIA filings, management has refused to make detailed financial information available to the bargaining team. That lack of financial transparency is now the subject of a pending claim with the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Bureau. Teachers are calling for greater fiscal oversight at the school — including improvements in the percentage of dollars that management spends on students instead of on its own compensation.

AHS spends a greater percentage of the Passages school budget on management costs and a lower percentage on direct student and personnel costs than every other single- site charter in the city except one. The average single-site charter spends a quarter on management and overhead for every dollar they spend on school staff and students, whereas Passages spends fifty cents for every dollar. Passages is also an outlier when it comes to teacher salaries, with teachers earning 20% less than teachers at other Chicago charters. That low spending level for the school’s dedicated teachers and staff lands Passages far below the average in budget comparisons across charters.

Union members charge that the disparity in salaries for Passages educators and those at other charters is driven by AHS mismanagement of funds and the fact that AHS simply does not contribute enough to the school’s budget from its own funds. Chicago’s other single-site charters typically provide 5-10% of their financial resources from private fundraising revenue — a practice touted in the early days of the CPS push for charters as a way to harness private dollars to support publicly funded education. Passages raises zero dollars from private fundraising revenue.

Passages’ union educators returned to the bargaining table on Friday just after announcing their strike date.

 

Attorney General Madigan Student Loan Bill of Rights Passes Senate

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

 

AG Madigan & Sen. Daniel Biss Applaud Passage of Senate Bill 1351 to Better Illinois Student Loan Borrowers

 

CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced the Illinois Senate passed legislation to reform the student loan servicing industry to help student loan borrowers repay their loans. The bill addresses widespread abuses and failures in the student loan industry that were revealed by Madigan’s investigation and lawsuit against one of the country’s largest student loan servicing companies, Navient.

 

Senate Bill 1351, drafted by Madigan’s office and Sen. Daniel Biss, would create a Student Loan Bill of Rights to better protect borrowers from abuses in the student loan industry. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 34 to 15 with one member voting present, and will now be considered in the House, where it will be sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi.

 

“This bill is critically important now that the U.S. Department of Education has abandoned student loan borrowers by revoking reforms to prevent the abuses uncovered in my investigation,” Madigan said. “These commonsense measures will improve the financial futures of student loan borrowers, their families and our economy.”

 

“The U.S. Department of Education’s decision to roll back protections for student loan borrowers is extremely disappointing, particularly when investigations into the industry – such as those conducted by Attorney General Madigan – have revealed misleading and self-serving practices,” Sen. Biss said. “I encourage my colleagues in the House to support these commonsense reforms.”

 

Over the past decade, student loan debt has doubled to become the largest form of unsecured consumer debt in the country with more than 40 million borrowers owing over $1.4 trillion. Nearly 70 percent of graduates leave college with an average debt burden of $30,000, and one-in-four borrowers are behind on their payments or in default.

 

Students who attended for-profit colleges are particularly hard hit, making up the vast majority of borrowers in default. While federal income-based repayment options are available, the U.S. Treasury has reported that only 20 percent of eligible borrowers are enrolled in these options, which can lower payments based on income to as low as $0 a month.

 

Madigan said Illinois borrowers frequently experience problems with their student loan servicers. Specifically, borrowers in Illinois have complained to her office that their loan servicers failed to inform them of affordable repayment options, follow borrower payment instructions and answer questions consistently.

 

Because it is so difficult to get legitimate help from loan servicers, student loan borrowers are increasingly turning elsewhere for help. Scam artists have rushed in to exploit desperate borrowers, much like they did during the mortgage crisis, with false promises to help in exchange for large, illegal upfront fees. Madigan has led the country in shutting down illegal student loan debt relief operations preying on borrowers.

 

Senate Bill 1351 would create a Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect student loan borrowers by prohibiting student loan servicers from misleading borrowers and requiring that they:

 

  • Properly process payments;
  • Require specialists to provide and explain to struggling borrowers all of their repayment options, starting with income-driven plans; and
  • Inform borrowers who may be eligible to have their loans forgiven due to a disability or a problem with the school they attended.

 

The bill would also create a Student Loan Ombudsman in the Attorney General’s office and require student loan servicers to obtain a license to operate in Illinois.

 

Attorney General Madigan is a national leader in investigating and enforcing consumer protection violations in the higher education field. In addition to her lawsuit against Navient and Sallie Mae, Madigan has investigated for-profit schools for fraud and repeatedly called on the U.S. Department of Education to immediately forgive federal loans of students who attended fraudulent for-profit schools. Madigan has also testified before Congress and urged the U.S. Department of Education to crack down on the many abuses and scams facing student borrowers.

 

Madigan also instituted a free Student Loan Helpline to provide student borrowers with resources about repayment options, avoiding default or how to file a complaint about loan servicing at (800) 455-2456 (TTY: 1-800-964-3013). More information can also be found on her website.

 

Proposed New Charter School in Elgin Awarded $950,000 in Federal Start-up Grants From Charter Schools Program

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Charter school will offer families an innovative approach to learning

 

ELGIN, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced a federally funded $950,000 award to the Elgin Charter School Initiative. The two-part grant will support the opening of the Elgin Math and Science Academy Charter School within School District U-46. The proposed school will focus on closing opportunity and achievement gaps in the Elgin community through the hands-on and explorative Expeditionary Learning (EL) model.

The grant is part of the federally funded Charter Schools Program, through which ISBE can award $42 million total in federal funds to expand the number of high-quality and educationally diverse charter schools in Illinois and evaluate the effects of charter schools on student academic achievement, staff, and parents.

“Congratulations to the Elgin Charter School Initiative and the Elgin community,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “High-quality school options allow families to find the best learning environment for their children’s unique interests and needs. I encourage high-performing charter school operators across the state to consider applying for the next round of Charter Schools Program funds to expand opportunities for more families. I encourage school district leaders to take advantage of the opportunity to bring additional federal funding and high-quality school choices to their communities.”

The Elgin Charter School Initiative will use the $150,000 in Program Design funds and the $800,000 in Initial Implementation funds to provide staff and teachers with intensive supports and training in the EL education model, which encourages students to learn by doing. Educators at the Elgin Math and Science Academy Charter School will shepherd students to be leaders of their own learning and achieve bold goals.

“Our team at the Elgin Charter School Initiative is grateful for the Charter Schools Program funding and for ISBE’s vote of confidence in our proposed Elgin Math and Science Academy Charter School,” said Kerin Kelly, president of the Elgin Charter School Initiative. “We are excited to bring a unique math and science charter school based on the EL education model to School District U-46. As an all-volunteer team, the CSP grant will allow us to have a great start and to make important hires prior to our school opening in 2018.” 

ISBE plans to release the next Charter Schools Program Request for Proposals in July.

New FTC Website Helps Small Businesses

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

When scammers and hackers attack small businesses, it hurts not only the businesses’ reputations and bottom line, but also the integrity of the marketplace. Today, FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen announced a new FTC website, FTC.gov/SmallBusiness, to help business owners avoid scams, protect their computers and networks, and keep their customers’ and employees’ data safe. If you own a business you’ll want to check it out!

At FTC.gov/SmallBusiness you’ll find:

  • Tips on how to avoid scams that target businesses
  • Advice to help you protect your customers’ and employees’ sensitive data
  • Videos that show what you can do to secure your business’s networks

You can also find the FTC’s newest article Small Business Computer Security Basics, which has tips to help companies protect their files and devices, train employees to think twice before sharing account information, and keep their wireless network protected. The article also tells you what to do if a hacker gets into your computers or networks.

Go to FTC.gov/SmallBusiness, bookmark it and visit it often. And subscribe to the FTC’s business blog to stay connected.

UNCF Response to HBCU Capital Financing Program Reference in President Trump’s Budget Signing Statement

Posted by Admin On May - 9 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC— UNCF issued the following statement on President Trump’s signing statement of the FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which included a reference that the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Capital Financing Program may be reviewed for its compliance with the Constitution:

Following the public release of President Trump’s signing statement, UNCF sought clarification from the White House and received informal assurance from White House officials that the paragraph is not intended to indicate any policy change toward HBCUs and that the Administration intends to implement the HBCU Capital Financing Program. Nonetheless, UNCF urges the White House to issue an official clarification of its policy to the HBCU community, as the HBCU Capital Financing program has provided tremendous value to HBCUs and the students they serve over the past 25 years.

The HBCU Capital Financing Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, provides low-interest loans to HBCUs to finance infrastructure improvements on their campuses. Specifically, the program has enabled more than 40 public and private HBCUs to repair, renovate, and construct classrooms, libraries, science laboratories, and dormitories, helping to ensure that HBCU students can learn in modern facilities with modern equipment and up-to-date technology that is essential in today’s economy. For example, using HBCU Capital Financing loans, Bethune-Cookman University in Florida renovated a student center and provided new student housing; Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina built a new science and technology facility; and several HBCUs in Louisiana and Mississippi were able to rebuild their campuses after severe damage caused by major hurricanes. This federal loan program has become even more essential to HBCUs, considering recent research evidence that HBCUs pay more to secure capital financing in the private bond markets than non-HBCUs.

The HBCU Capital Financing Program is authorized under Title III, Part D of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which also authorizes federal grants to HBCUs for operating assistance and endowments under Title III, Parts B and C. The designation of institutions that are eligible for Title III federal assistance has been settled for over 50 years, since the enactment of the HEA in 1965. Eligible institutions must meet statutory criteria, not based on race, but rather on mission, accreditation status and year the institution was established. Today, 101 HBCUs qualify for this assistance, many of which have a racially diverse student enrollment, faculty and staff. For instance, Bluefield State College in West Virginia is designated as an HBCU, but according to NCES data, Bluefield enrolls a population that is 85 percent white and only nine percent African American.

The provision in President Trump’s signing statement regarding this critical HBCU program may simply be lawyers at the Office of Management and Budget being overly cautious and perhaps not fully understanding the legal basis for federal HBCU programs. However, these programs have been thoroughly vetted by the Congress and prior Administrations, and the new Administration must eliminate any doubt as to their Constitutionality.

UNCF looks forward to working with the White House and the U.S. Department of Education to continue to communicate the importance of this program and others that positively impact HBCUs and the students they have served for more than 150 years.

About UNCF: UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF annually awards $100 million in scholarships and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF.

University of Chicago Student Library Employees File Petition to Unionize

Posted by Admin On May - 9 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – A coalition of University of Chicago student library workers filed a petition to become one of the nation’s first primarily undergraduate student unions at a private university. The group of student employees, calling themselves the Student Library Employees Union, worked with Teamsters Local 743, a local labor union, to file the petition with the National Labor Relations Board this past Sunday.

 

The petition calls for an election to determine whether student library employees will unionize and gain the legal right to negotiate with the University on issues such as employee wages, hours, and third-party legal representation in cases of Title IX, ADA and labor violations. Only as unionized workers will students be able to protect their rights as well as fully engage in the academic mission of the University of Chicago.

 

“Student workers do a large amount of the work that makes UChicago Library—and by extension, UChicago—function, and we need to have a legitimate say in the issues that affect us, affect our work environments, and affect our abilities to balance our jobs and education,” said fourth-year Daphne Xi, a student worker at the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.

 

Students say that wages are too low and hours too irregular for part-time student library workers in need of a secure source of income, with some taking on second jobs outside of the university system to cover expenses necessary to receive an education. They say that the library bureaucracy is opaque such that it is difficult to push for changes when employers will not give them a fair deal.

 

“As a student worker with mental illnesses, unionization is an extremely important goal for me. I am not only a student worker, but an organizer, and a musician – in short, I don’t have much free time, and too often I’ve been put in a situation where I need to put work over my responsibilities as a student and even my well being as a person just so that I can have enough money to continue attending this school,” said third-year Alex Peltz, a student worker in the Regenstein Library.

 

He said, “Creating a union will provide me with the ability to bargain for a higher wage so that I can actually be a student at my own school, as well as offering me legal representation and defense against ADA violations, allowing me to feel safe and supported in the workplace.”

 

As unionized workers, students will be able to negotiate with the University for a better recourse on workplace violations. Student library employees with legal recognition as a body of workers will have the ability to participate in mandatory contract negotiations with the University administration. This ability is especially necessary for student employees, as the administration has habitually failed to meet with students in a timely or productive manner.

 

Furthermore, students will push for legal third-party representation in workplace grievance procedures regarding cases of harassment, Title IX violations, and ADA violations. The federal government has previously criticized and intervened in the University’s implementation of Title IX and ADA. With external arbitration, unionized student workers will be able to ensure the University acts on its commitments to student safety and health.

 

“I think that unionizing is crucial in order to get the accountability and security we need from the University,” said second-year Katie McPolin, a student worker at the Eckhart Library.  “I have long felt like I do not have a voice in the way that this university operates, as they continually fail to prioritize the things I care about—ADA compliance, for example, is something they have notoriously neglected—and instead pour funds into what’s most profitable. This is a huge step toward a democratic university, where my needs matter to administrators as much as the money in my pockets.”

 

The University’s Graduate Students United, a coalition of graduate student workers, will also file a petition to unionize today. Graduate and undergraduate student employees recognize the need for the University to implement better working conditions in order to both receive and provide an education.

 

For more information, visit the Student Library Employees Union Facebook page or contact Michael Weinrib, (704-421-8070, miweinrib@gmail.com) or Anjali Dhillon (912-272-2891, anjalitdhillon@gmail.com)

 

Medical Examiner Reports Deaths Caused by Powerful Opioid

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed more than 40 deaths in 2017 due to a powerful, new opioid.

The office has confirmed that from January through April 8, 44 deaths were attributed to acrylfentanyl, a new fentanyl analog whose potency is still being studied.

The data for 2017 is not a real time number, as toxicology testing can take several weeks.

In 2016, seven deaths were attributed to acrylfentanyl.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has seen a marked increase in deaths from fentanyl and fentanyl analogs since 2015.  The office has determined its recent findings require notice to the general public and to first responders.

“Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are very powerful drugs that are likely to be lethal,” said Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, Cook County’s Chief Medical Examiner. “Just one dose can easily stop a person from breathing, causing immediate death.”

“These high-potency opioids and opioid analogs are thousands of times stronger than street opioids like heroin and are far more likely to cause death,” said Dr. Steve Aks, emergency medicine physician and toxicologist at the Cook County Health & Hospitals System’s Stroger Hospital.

“In many cases, one dose of naloxone, the heroin antidote, will revive a person who has overdosed on heroin. But we are seeing people in our emergency department who need increased doses of naloxone – in some cases as many as four doses – for the patient to be stabilized after ingesting fentanyl, or a heroin/fentanyl combination. The EMS and emergency medicine community needs to be aware of the potential need for additional naloxone in such cases.”

In 2016, a total of 1,091 people in Cook County died, at least in part, because of an opiate-related overdose. In 2015, 649 people in Cook County died, at least in part, because of an opiate-related overdose.

Of the opiate-related overdoses in 2016, 562 people died, at least in part, after using fentanyl or fentanyl analogs, which are illicit versions of fentanyl, a powerful drug used by physicians to treat severe pain.

The most common fentanyl analogs in Cook County include furanyl fentanyl and a precursor/metabolite of fentanyl called despropionyl fentanyl or 4-ANPP. Toxicology tests show decedents have used fentanyl and analogs alone, as well as with heroin and with other drugs such as cocaine.

Teachers Vote Unanimously to Strike at One of Chicago’s Oldest Charter Schools

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Rock-bottom spending on immigrant and refugee students and frontline staff stands in stark contrast to salaries for top management, who last year earned more than double the amount paid to CPS’ CEO overseeing a system 800 times larger.

 

CHICAGO, IL – Union educators at Passages Charter School voted overwhelmingly to strike, after nearly a year of bargaining with management has failed to produce a fair contract. Teachers voted 43 to zero to strike, in a bargaining unit of 46 members. Thursday’s vote authorizes the bargaining committee to set a strike date in the coming weeks if AHS does not make an acceptable offer.

 

The strike would be the first of a charter school network in the nation.

 

Passages was one of the first charter schools created in Chicago, and today serves roughly 500 students — including a large population of immigrant and refugee students of Asian and African heritage. Passages 46 union educators — including teachers, teachers assistants and paraprofessionals — were certified last April as members of ChiACTS Local 4343, which represents educators at 32 charter schools in Chicago. The school’s educators have been negotiating for a new contract since May of 2016.

 

“We care deeply about our students,” says third grade teacher Gina Mengarelli, a member of Passages’ ChiACTS bargaining team. “Many of our kids, as refugees and immigrants, look to the school as an environment to support the hopes and dreams they bring to their new country. It is simply wrong for management to invest so little in these children and the frontline workers who are responsible for their education. The primary reason we formed a union at Passages in the first place was so that we could have more voice in decisions that affect our students. And now we’re demanding a contract that allows that.”

 

The union educators charge that the school’s management spends too much on management and overhead compared to other single-site charters, and too little on staff and students. Many teachers with BAs and even masters degrees earn salaries in the $30,000 – $40,000 range for work weeks that can top 60 hours. Spending on students’ education at Passages is also at the bottom of the barrel among comparable publicly funded charter schools in Chicago.

 

At the same time, the current and former former CEOs of AHS — Asian Human Services, the agency that runs Passages — together last year earned more than twice that of Forrest Claypool, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools and its 400,000 students. Last year, Passages paid their retired CEO $381,000 — and paid $540,000 in total last year to two people, their current and former CEOs. The combined current salaries for Passages’ 46 bargaining unit members is $1.7 million.

 

Besides refusing to consider teachers’ proposals to improve compensation, which is currently on average 20% lower than that at comparable charter schools in Chicago, management has also proposed eliminating paid maternity and paternity leave — a proposal completely unacceptable to educators at a workplace where the vast majority of employees are women. In addition, management in recent years has cut classes that include music and Spanish — which, along with Urdu, is the language most commonly spoken by immigrant students — and failed to fulfill promises to create recreational programs like basketball for students.

 

Teachers are also calling for greater fiscal oversight at the school — including improvements in the percentage of dollars that management spends on students instead of on its own compensation.

 

AHS spends a greater percentage of the Passages school budget on management costs and a lower percentage on direct student and personnel costs than every other single- site charter in the city except one. The average single-site charter spends a quarter on management and overhead for every dollar they spend on school staff and students, whereas Passages spends fifty cents for every dollar. Passages is also an outlier when it comes to teacher salaries, with teachers earning 20% less than teachers at other Chicago charters. That low spending level for the school’s dedicated teachers and staff lands Passages far below the average in budget comparisons across charters.

 

“We really believe in the mission of this school, but management needs to provide us the resources to carry out that mission, says Passages paraprofessional Ann Stella-Tayler. We’ve been negotiating for almost a year, and our members are united in telling AHS that it’s past time that they treat Passages students, teachers and staff fairly.”

 

Passages has no income outside of what it collects from CPS, and union members charge that the disparity in salaries for Passages educators and those at other charters is driven by AHS mismanagement of funds and the fact that AHS simply does not contribute enough to the school’s budget from its own funds. Chicago’s other single-site charters typically provide 5-10% of their financial resources from private fundraising revenue — a practice touted in the early days of the CPS push for charters as a way to harness private dollars to support publicly funded education. Passages raises zero dollars from private fundraising revenue.

 

“These educators are the heart of the school and their students’ greatest advocates,” says Chris Baehrend, President of ChiACTS Local 4343. “No teacher wants to strike — we want to be in class, with our students, where we belong. But if it takes a strike to force change that improves the education of Passages’ students, then our members will be on the picket line until we achieve those improvements.”

 

Passages’ union educators will be back at the bargaining table next week.

 

Black Boys at Florida Reform School Were Modern Day Slaves

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Hundreds of Black boys say they were “Modern Day Slaves” at a recently closed reform school

Antoinette Harrell conducting child peonage research

Kentwood, LA (BlackNews.com) – Antoinette Harrell is a genealogist, activist, and peonage detective who spent decades tracking down slavery in the deep south. The peonage research of Harrell led her to investigate peonage at the Arthur G. Dozier Reform School in Marianna, Florida – also called the Florida Industrial School for Boys. Her research led her to dig deep into Dozier files at the Tallahassee State Archives in the sunshine state of Florida in search of signs of peonage practices on the campus. The school opened its doors in 1900 and closed the doors in 2011 after operating for 111 years. More than 500 former students have alleged they were brutally beaten, sexually abused, as well as mentally abused by Dozier’s staff. Some even alleged that they were used as modern day slaves, working to grow crops, raise livestock and cut timber.

Harrell focused her research on child labor and wanted to follow the money trails. Boys as young as seven years old worked at Dozier’s child labor camp. They grew everything from sweet potatoes, butter beans, string beans, turnips, okra and other agricultural produce. They raised and slaughtered livestock for sale. Each division made its own money and was headed by school staff. What happened to the money? Who was buying the produce? A general farm produce report on October 1958 from the poultry, dairy, garden and swine division documented the money that was made from each division. A total of $10,980.36 was made that quarter. The reports were made quarterly each year.

A sale report of proceeds items for the period ending March 31, 1966 showed that for that year, Dozier made $118,160 in swine and $156,108 in beef sales. Each item of produce and livestock was itemized. Harrell interviewed Johnny Lee Gaddy who was 11-years old in 1957 when he was sent to Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for skipping school because he had a speech impediment and was tired of the other students in his class teasing him. He was picked up by a police officer and placed in a jail cell for one night. The next morning Gaddy was sent directly to Dozier without appearing before a juvenile court.

Gaddy informed Harrell of the hard work he did at Dozier. He said he cut down timber in the swamps; he worked in the fields planting and harvesting the produce. Harrell asked Gaddy if he knew where the produce was going? “I saw the trucks coming and going,” said Gaddy. “But I couldn’t tell you where they were taking the produce or meat. You better not asked any questions. If you want to live and didn’t want to get a bad beating for questioning the overseers, you better keep your mouth shut.”

The campus was segregated up until the late 60’s.

Over the years, Harrell has helped the African-American male victims to organize a group called “Black Boys at Dozier” and she helped them to bring their plight of abuse and modern day slavery to the eyes of the public. She also helped them gain national and international attention for their stories. She even took the men back to the Dozier campus for a press conference. It was the first time that the men set foot back on the campus in over 50 years.

Harrell is always on the hunt for new stories of slavery and peonage that have been swept under the rug in America. She has spent hundreds of hours researching private collections and public documents from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. on peonage. She had climbed in dark and dusty courthouse attics to search for any evidence that pointed to peonage practices. Sometimes driving late night hours on back dusty roads that seem never ending, looking for modern day plantations, and in search of people live in peonage.

A resolution acknowledged that treatment of boys sent to Dozier and Okeechobee was cruel, unjust and “a violation of fundamental human decency.” Within the first 13 years of Dozier School’s operation, six states led investigations were conducted in response to reports of children being chained to walls in iron, severely beaten, and used for child labor.

Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) carried the Senate resolution, apologizing to the men who say they endured physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at Dozier Reform School and Okeechobee in the state of Florida. Senate Resolution 1440 recognized the widespread abuse. “The bill expressed regret for this shameful part of our history, sincerely apologizes on behalf of the legislature, and declares a commitment to make sure that these atrocities and tragedies never occur again.”

Photo Caption: Antoinette Harrell conducting child peonage research at the Florida State Archives
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.

 

RECALL: Marcho Farms, Inc. Recalls Veal, Beef and Pork Products Due to Possible Non-0157 Shiga Toxin-Producing E. Coli (Stec) Adulteration

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC – Marcho Farms, Inc., a Souderton, Pa. establishment, is recalling approximately 5,620 pounds of boneless veal, and ground veal, beef and pork products that may be adulterated withnon-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O111, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The veal, beef and pork products were produced on April 11 and April 14, 2017. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 60-lb.cases of “VEAL BONELESS TRIMMINGS HALAL” with case code “5398” and “MANFU. DATE” of “04/11/2017.”
  • 60-lb. cases of “VEAL TRIMMINGS USDA CHOICE” with case code “98” and “MANFU. DATE” of “04/11/17.”
  • 9-lb. cases of “VEAL, BEEF, PORK GROUND FOR MEATLOAF” with case code “3122” and “Sell By” date “05/05/17.”
  • 10-lb. cases of “VEAL, BEEF, PORK GROUND FOR MEATLOAF BULK PACK” with case code “3125.”

These items were distributed to retail stores and food service locations in Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.

The problem was discovered when the Illinois State Meat Inspection Service notified FSIS on May 2, 2017, about positive non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) samples made with source material produced by Marcho Farms, Inc. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) outbreaks are rare, but tend to primarily be due to contaminated food and person-to-person transmission. Like E. coli O157:H7, non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify theircustomers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160° F. The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, http://1.usa.gov/1cDxcDQ.

Consumers and media with questions about the recall can contact Herb Nicolo, Marcho Farms, Inc.’s plant manager, at (215) 721-7131.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

 

PREPARING PRODUCT FOR SAFE CONSUMPTION

 USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline

1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit

www.fsis.usda.gov

 Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Immediately clean spills.

Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.

Color is NOT a reliable indicator that meat has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.

The only way to be sure the meat or poultry is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

– Fish: 145°F

– Beef, pork, lamb chops/steaks/

roasts: 145°F with a three minute rest time

– Ground meat: 160°F

– Poultry: 165°F

– Hot dogs: 160°F or steaming hot

Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90º F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

NOTE: Access news releases and other information at FSIS’ website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Follow FSIS on Twitter at twitter.com/usdafoodsafety or in Spanish at: twitter.com/usdafoodsafe_es.

USDA RECALL CLASSIFICATIONS

Class I This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

Class II This is a health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product.

Class III This is a situation where the use of the product will not cause adverse health consequences.

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