Civic News & Info
Governor Quinn Takes Bill Action Monday, July 16, 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 09:10

CHICAGO – July 16, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today took action on the following bill:

 

Bill No.: HB 4314

An Act Concerning: Regulation

Extends the date by which a business must certify job relocation to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in order to be exempted from certain utility taxes.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

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Are school dropouts the nation's biggest problem? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Bob Velderman   
Monday, 16 July 2012 14:23

Retired superintendent calls dropout epidemic the nation’s biggest socio-economic problem

By Ben Velderman
EAGnews.org

GUILFORD, Conn. –  Armand Fusco has dedicated over 50 years of his life to public education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a guidance counselor, a principal, a superintendent and a university professor.


The 80-year-old educator and scholar has seen virtually every educational fad and reform there is, but none has come close to solving what he calls "the most serious socio-economic problem facing the nation" -  school dropouts.

"Reforms intended to improve inner city schools do not address the dropouts because they are considered throwaway children – out of sight, out of mind," Fusco tells EAGnews.org in an email exchange.

The "throwaway" children – many of whom are black males and Latinos – all have one thing in common: they are functionally illiterate, lacking basic reading, writing and math skills. As a result, "they experience academic failure day in and day out," and have no compelling reason to remain in school, Fusco says.

On average, 7,200 kids drop out of school every day, totaling 1.2 million dropouts per year. Over the course of three years, that’s a population that surpasses the size of Chicago.

Dropping out of school causes obvious economic hardships for young people. They earn far less than their high school- and college-educated peers, assuming they can even find work.

Low-skilled workers have unemployment rates that are two-to-four times higher than those with higher levels of training, and they also spend more time out of work, writes Dropout Nation editor RiShawn Biddle.

But dropping out of school results in more than lost income; it also leads to lost lives.

School dropouts account for 80 percent of the nation’s prison population, which Fusco sums up this way: "If a student can’t read, he can’t learn, he can’t get a job, he can’t survive, so he can’t stay within the law."

It's a serious problem, but Fusco says only one of the education reforms being proposed and enacted throughout the nation has the potential to solve it: holding back third graders until they acquire adequate math and reading skills.

The research backs him up: students who don’t have basic literacy skills by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

Third grade retention "is the only policy that may have some lasting effect, and it’s still in its infancy," Fusco says.

A few states do require students to be proficient in reading before leaving the third grade – most notably Florida and Indiana – but he warns that approach will not succeed unless there are intensive literacy intervention programs for struggling students.

"It should begin the summer following grade three and continue, if need be, by having a minimum of four hours a day devoted to literacy instruction," Fusco says, adding that "interventions could and should begin even earlier."

Zombie schools’


Fusco has literally written the book on the dropout problem. He released a 500-page tome earlier this year called "School Pushouts: A Plague of Hopelessness Perpetuated by Zombie Schools."

As the title reveals, Fusco blames the dropout problem on "zombie schools" – his term for failing schools – and the adults who allow them to exist.

The former superintendent places much of the blame on ineffective school boards that fail to provide strong leadership and shirk their oversight duties. Weak school boards cede too much control over the operation of the school district to the local teachers unions.

Clauses in teacher contracts constrain school administrators from effectively managing the school by placing limits on class sizes, meeting times, teacher evaluations, teacher assignments, grievance procedures and layoff procedures, among other things.

"The very public institutions intended for student learning have become focused instead on adult employment," he says.

Fusco also blames state departments of education "that tread too lightly on local control," thus allowing weak-kneed school boards to exist.

"(The states) are the ones that have the responsibility and are in control," he says. "There is no one else to blame."

Fusco recoils at the typical union suggestion that parents are ultimately to blame for allowing their children to attend school unprepared to learn. Unions only make that argument to shift responsibility from their members, he says.

"What parents can be blamed for is not supporting what the schools are trying to do academically, not helping enforce discipline, and not getting involved with the school, although many single parents don’t have the time to do it," he adds.

A time bomb exploding ‘

Fusco spends hours every morning scouring various education blogs and websites for the latest reports and studies concerning school dropouts. The research has led Fusco to break with fellow education reformers over the value of charter schools, vouchers and school choice.

Such options might provide "an immediate escape from the bondage of failing public schools," but only if there is a successful school nearby, he says. Too often, students end up trading a failing school for one that is "less failing."

But he reserves his strongest criticism for reformers who want to expand preschool programs.

"That's probably the most insane reform," he says. "What is absent from the discussion is what happens to children upon leaving preschool. Since this effort is primarily in the inner cities, and since the inner cities have the preponderance of failing schools, the reality is that the preschoolers simply move on to a failing school. That makes no sense.

"What preschool does is to provide many union jobs, and that's really what it's about."

Instead, Fusco advocates policies that are designed to boost reading skills. That list includes teaching literacy in all classes, using online learning programs for intervention purposes, having schools partner with local colleges and universities and, of course, third grade retention.

He notes that the third grade reform "engine has not picked up steam," possibly because holding students back is a blow to the self-image of both the students and their parents.

But research shows that third grade retention only works if it is accompanied with an effective reading intervention strategy. Holding students back simply to give more of the same only results in continued failure, he warns.

Educators also need to revamp the high school experience, since this "is where dropouts occur." He says "improving high schools – what they do and how they do it – could be a significant help in stemming the tide of dropouts."

"Remember what the basic problem is – dropouts are in all respects illiterate and that is why they are failing," Fusco says.

He sums up the urgency of the dropout problem this way: "This is a time bomb exploding economically and socially every twenty-six seconds."

 
Governor Quinn Takes Bill Action Friday, July 13, 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 16 July 2012 13:19

CHICAGO – July 13, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today took action on the following bills:

 

Bill No.: HB 3329

An Act Concerning: Liquor

Permits grocery stores to sell liquor in cities with a population over 1 million and within 100 feet of a school if the store meets certain criteria.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: HB 4031

An Act Concerning: Criminal Law

Extends the sunset repeal of the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council from Dec. 31, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2015.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 4063

An Act Concerning: Firearms

Exempts airsoft guns from the definition of a firearm.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 4076

An Act Concerning: Regulation

Defines cosmetology school so that students can apply for student aid and expands licensing for barbers.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 4126

An Act Concerning: Regulation

Extends the Naprapathic Practice sunset an additional 10 years and streamlines the existing act.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 4145

An Act Concerning: Local Government

Authorizes a county board to declare by ordinance all inoperable motor vehicles, whether on public or private property and in view of the general public, to be hazardous dilapidated motor vehicles.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 4324

An Act Concerning: Liquor

Make a technical correction to statutory language to allow the sale of alcohol at a restaurant that is near a church in the city of Chicago.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: HB 4440

An Act Concerning: Public Transportation

Streamlines data sharing between the Illinois Department of Public Health and the RTA to ensure that free and reduced fare transit cards

belonging to deceased individuals are deactivated.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: HB 4545

An Act Concerning: Local Government

Ensures that employees Office of the State Fire Marshal who meet certain requirements, are not prohibited from receiving training certifications on the grounds that they are not employed or otherwise engaged by an organized Illinois fire department.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: HB 4592

An Act Concerning: Government

Exempts from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), records requested by persons committed to the Department of Corrections if those materials are available in the library of the correctional facility; include records from staff members’ personnel files, staff rosters, or other staffing assignment information; or are available through an administrative request.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 4691

An Act Concerning: Transportation

Adds public and private ambulances engaged in an emergency service or duty that necessitates the use of the toll highway system to the list of vehicles that are not required to pay a toll.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: HB 5234

An Act Concerning: State Government

Removes the Illinois Register of Historic Places and instead provides for all historic places to be registered on the National Register of Historic Places.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: HB 5321

An Act Concerning: State Government

Extends the sunset date for the Capital Development Board to charge contract administrative fees from June 30, 2012 to June 30, 2016, and provides that these fees are put into the Capitol Restoration Trust Fund for use by the Architect of the Capitol.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 5336

An Act Concerning: State Government

Transfers the Safety Consultation Program from the Department of Commerce and Economic

Opportunity (DCEO) to the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL), including the transfer of specified staff,

records, unexpended moneys, and rules.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: HB 5444

An Act Concerning: State Government

Creates the Economic Data Task Force to assess the potential uses and users of state data generated by Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and the application of the data for economic development and other public uses.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

Bill No.: HB 5452

An Act Concerning: State Government

Gives the Illinois Finance Authority the authority to make discretionary changes, instead of mandatory in regards to certain provisions.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 5616

An Act Concerning: Local Government

Increases the amount of bonds the Will-Kankakee Regional Development Authority may issue to $250 million.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 5632

An Act Concerning: Employment

Removes obsolete language, redirects payments to Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) previously made to the director of IDES, and conforms with federal law.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: HB 5656

An Act Concerning: Finance

Allows all unused federal funds in the Capital Development Board Contributory Trust Fund to remain in the

Fund, and be used only for other capital projects.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: HB 5679

An Act Concerning: Health

Allows the Department of Human Service (DHS) to redirect funds when its developmental disabilities facilities decline in enrollment.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: HB 5780

An Act Concerning: Transportation

Exempts fees allowing police departments to transfer license plates from one vehicle to another vehicle.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: SB 968

An Act Concerning: Transportation

Updates the definition of “commercial motor vehicle” to comply with federal standards.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: SB 1286

An Act Concerning: Revenue

Allows animated film production tax credits to be applied beginning when the productions begin.
Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: SB 1900

An Act Concerning: Revenue

Changes the deadline for the return of assessment books and workbooks to the supervisor of assessments in order to allow additional time for the proper completion of the appeals process. Allows the supervisor of assessments in counties with less than 600,000 residents to take possession of assessment books and work books that are not submitted within the required time.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

Bill No.: SB 2578

An Act Concerning: Health

Amends qualifications of the director of the Department of Public Health.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: SB 2818

An Act Concerning: State Government

Changes definitions to allow more youths to be eligible for scholarships through the Department of Children and Family Services.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: SB 2819

An Act Concerning: Corrections

Eliminates specific mandates requiring the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to public and furnish various reports.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

Bill No.: SB 2839

An Act Concerning: Transportation

Requires floatation devices on sailboats and exempts sailboards.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: SB 2844

An Act Concerning: Corrections

Amends bond rating standard for vendors who seek to enter into medical contracts with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).  Also further restricts waivers for medical co-pays at DOC and adds revisory language regarding HIV testing.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: SB 2849

An Act Concerning: Children

Expands the definition of “neglected child.”

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: SB 2935

An Act Concerning: Regulation

Extends the Wholesale Drug Distribution Act for an additional 10 years.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: SB 3242

An Act Concerning: Insurance

Provides that no insurer may issue a service provider contract that requires a dentist to provide services to the insurer’s policyholders at a fee set by the insurer unless the services are covered under the applicable policyholder agreement.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: SB 3262

An Act Concerning: Liquor

Allows for the issuing of a liquor license to certain premises within 100 feet of a school following certain stipulations.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: SB 3277

An Act Concerning: Local Government

Extends the Glenwood tax increment financing redevelopment project.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: SB 3318

An Act Concerning: Transportation

Gives the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) quick take power for the Illiana Expressway Project. Makes technical changes.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: SB 3450

An Act Concerning: Gaming

Provides that investigators appointed by the Illinois Gaming Board shall have authority to conduct investigations, searches, seizures, arrests and other duties imposed under the act and the Riverboat Gambling Act, as deemed necessary by the board.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: SB 3484

An Act Concerning: Government

Increases the membership of the State Board of Health from 19 to 20 and adds an optometrist as a member of.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: SB 3530

An Act Concerning: Transportation

Defines and provides for registration of former military vehicles with the Secretary of State (SOS).

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: SB 3607

An Act Concerning: Revenue

Eliminates tiers of complaint dates for assessments under the Property Tax Code.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

 

Bill No.: SB 3798

An Act Concerning: State Law

Makes technical corrections, stylistic changes, and compile sections affected by multiple public acts.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately

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Scott County Board of Supervisors' Tentative Agenda PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Chris Berge   
Thursday, 12 July 2012 14:35

 
Harkin Announces more than $6.8 Million in Community Development and Housing Assistance Grants for Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Thursday, 12 July 2012 13:58

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that five cities in Iowa have received funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant, Emergency Shelter Grant, and the HOME programs.  The cities of Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Iowa City, and Sioux City will all receive funds to assist moderate, low and very-low income families improve their economic circumstance and to provide housing.

“The importance of helping those of modest means improve their chance to move upward economically and to provide decent housing is especially crucial for families raising children,” said Harkin.  “These funds will help cities with the programs that allow these families to find quality, affordable housing and feel a sense of security in their living situation.”

The Community Development Block Grant program provides annual grants to develop viable urban communities by providing housing and a suitable living environment, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

The Emergency Shelter Grants program provides annual grants to improve quality and number of emergency homeless shelters.

The HOME program helps to expand the supply of decent affordable housing to low- and very low-income families by providing grants to fund housing programs that meet local needs and priorities.

Details of the Grant are as Follows:

Ames - $511,276.00 from the Community Development Block Grant program.

Cedar Rapids - $1,091,099.00 from the Community Development Block Grant program and $361,579.00 from the HOME program.

Davenport - $1,328,125.00 from the Community Development Block Grant program and $410,918.00 from the HOME program.

Iowa City - $ 638,918.00 from the Community Development Block Grant program and $385,380.00 from the HOME program.

Sioux City - $1,507,259.00 from the Community Development Block Grant program, $197,984.00 from the Emergency Shelter Grants program, and $376,184.00 from the HOME program.

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