Education & Schools
Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children recognized nine outstanding community leaders as 2012 Children’s Champions! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Liz Strader   
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 15:26
On May 1st, Illinois AEYC recognized twelve outstanding early childhood leaders from around the state
through a special proclamation in the Illinois General Assembly and a dessert reception in their honor.

The mission of Illinois AEYC is to facilitate the optimal development of young children by advocating for the
rights, needs, and well-being of young children; and educating, supporting, and collaborating with
individuals and organizations working in direct or indirect service to young children. To accomplish this
mission, the organization depends on the hard work of its members. Among them are dedicated leaders
whose hard work has made their local affiliate stronger and the lives of children in their communities better.

Illinois AEYC values the impact these exemplary volunteers have made as early childhood professionals.
Each stands out for their contribution to their communities, to the early childhood field, their local AEYC
affiliates, and to Illinois AEYC. The twelve represent a wide range of professional positions; many have
worked in the field for more than 25 years; some continue to volunteer after retiring. Illinois AEYC gratefully
acknowledges these contributions.

The twelve 2012 Children’s Champions and the affiliate chapter they represent are:

ANGIE COX – Southern Illinois AEYC
LEON DENTON - Chicago Metropolitan AEYC
BRENDA SMITH- Heart of Illinois AEYC

An Award Ceremony and Reception was held in their honor on May 1, 2012, at the Governor’s Mansion,
401 E. Jackson St., Springfield, Illinois, 62701. The twelve 2012 Children’s Champions and their guests,
AEYC members from across the state, and Illinois Legislators were invited to the dessert reception where
each 2012 Children’s Champion was recognized for their achievements.

Everyone gathered at the Capitol for a special proclamation in both chambers and then proceeded to the
Governor’s Mansion. The 2012 Children’s Champions represent shining examples of those in our
communities doing good things for children, which led them to be nominated by their state/local affiliate

chapters and designated by the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children as Illinois 2012
Children’s Champions.

Quad Cities AEYC Nominee – LAURIE WALKER

Laurie Walker has always been a Children’s Champion! If she has not found a way to speak out for
children, we are sure she is in the process of discovering it! Laurie has no problem being the voice for
Children, Families, and Early Childhood Providers. She sits on various boards and meets with individuals
all across the State of Illinois in order to make sure that the voice of young children do not go unheard.
Laurie is a member of the IL Action for Children Board of Directors and past Board Chair, the IL Governor’s
Early Learning Council Oversight and Coordination Committee, the IL State Board of Education
Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Stakeholder Committee, the IL Department of Human Services
(IDHS) Child Care and Development Advisory Council and co-chairs the Quality Committee, the Bi State
Leadership Committee, and the United Way Women’s Leadership Council Steering Committee. She was
formerly Chair of the United Way Agency Director Association, Chair of the IL Department of Human
Services Statewide Advisory Council, and co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and a member of
the IDHS Tiered Reimbursements Committee, the IDHS contract Deliverables Committee, and the IDHS
Great Start Committee. Laurie, truly, has a passion and commitment to children and excellence and her
dedication to this field is what Early Childhood is all about.

A day in the life of a typical student PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Hawkeye Caucus   
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 15:22

Over the next several months the Hawkeye Caucus will profile “A day in the life” of a typical student on campus.

Last Tuesday, I woke up and got my day started at 8:00 am. I grabbed my laptop and checked emails from the night before for about 30 minutes, as I do every morning.  I then got ready for the day and ate some breakfast.

After breakfast, I read for my Health Economics class for about an hour or so to prepare for my class later that night. At noon, I went to the College of Public Health building for my Human Resources for Healthcare Organizations’ class, which lasted until 2:00 pm.

After class, I walked over to the Iowa Memorial Union to eat lunch and held the first part of my weekly office hours for Dance Marathon. During these few hours, I caught up on more emails and then worked on improving one of our development areas for Dance Marathon. This included doing some data analysis and comparing it to previous years to see how we could improve for this year.

At 4:30, I started my Health Economics which goes until 7:30 pm. Following my class, I ate dinner and then read for my Maternal/Child/Family Health class, which occurs on Wednesday. After reading, I prepared for what I needed to do for the rest of the week and prioritized what needed to get done first.

Afterward, I checked emails for one last time and then talked with my girlfriend before falling asleep around 12:30 am.

Nic Rusher is a Master of Health Administration Candidate and is the Executive Director of the University of Iowa Dance Marathon.


The University of Iowa Dance Marathon is the largest student-run philanthropic organization west of the Mississippi River.

Simon: Time to weigh in on Classrooms First recommendations PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Justin Stofferahn   
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:41

Deadline to provide input on school district efficiency proposals is May 14

SPRINGFIELD – May 4, 2012. In advance of the May 14 deadline, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is inviting parents, teachers, administrators and community members to submit online comments about a set of draft recommendations that will make it easier for school districts to consolidate and help them save up to $1 billion in operations costs by sharing services.

Individuals can leave comments on each of the commission’s individual recommendations at the Lt. Governor’s website. The input will be used, along with the testimony from four public hearings, to finalize the commission’s recommendations prior to their submission to the Governor and General Assembly this summer.

“The Classrooms First Commission started its work six months ago with public input on school district efficiency and effectiveness,” said Simon, who chairs the Classrooms First Commission. “We incorporated the concerns and ideas of hundreds of constituents in our draft recommendations, and we want to hear from educators, parents and community members again before we take our plan to the Governor. This input will make our final recommendations more valuable and representative of our state.”

The Classrooms First Commission is a bi-partisan group of education stakeholders that was charged last fall by Governor Quinn and the General Assembly to reduce duplicative education spending and improve educational outcomes. To read the draft recommendations and find out more about the Classrooms First Commission visit


Doubling Student Debt Rates to Cost Iowa Students $250 Million; Local Leaders Call on Congress to Maintain Current Interest Rates PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Jeremy Funk   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:20
Local Leaders Call on Congress to Maintain Current Interest Rates



Higher education advocates released new data today showing that an anticipated increase in the student loan interest rate would cost Iowa students $250 million per year. The increase would affect federally subsidized Stafford loans, which are provided to almost 7.5 million low and moderate-income students nationwide each year. If Congress does nothing, then beginning on July 1st, the interest rate will double from 3.4% to 6.8% on new student loans.


“In today’s economy, students need a college education to get ahead,” said Sonia Ashe, Iowa PIRG Advocate. “Doubling the interest rate for student loans would make this goal harder to achieve for thousands of Iowans.”


“I’m already going to graduate with a mountain of student debt,” said Jessica Tobin at the University of Iowa. “If Congress lets the interest rate double, then I’m looking at even bigger loan payments and it’s going to take longer for me to get on my feet financially after I graduate.”


The average student borrower already graduates with over $25,000 in student loans. On average, the doubling of the interest rate would add approximately $1,000 for every year a student takes out a loan, adding up to more than $4,000 over a four-year education.


To stave off the rate hike, Congress needs to act by July 1st to maintain the existing interest rate. Without action, interest rates on these loans will double, resulting in significant new debt for future graduates. A vote on the issue is schedule in the United States Senate for Tuesday.


“Student debt can change the shape of a young person’s life,” said Laurie Wolf, a financial aid officer at Des Moines Area Community College. “When students graduate with high levels of student debt, it can force them to postpone major life events like marriage, parenthood, and home ownership. It’s important to minimize that debt, including keeping interest rates low, in order to reduce the impact it has on the lives of our graduates.”


Today, the Center for American Progress, Campus Progress, and the USAction Education Fund will release reports detailing how an increase in the Stafford student loan interest rate would impact a number of states. These reports will offer new broad analysis, state statistics, stories of people who could be impacted, and support from student body presidents and campus newspapers.


# # #

Iowa PIRG, the Iowa Public Interest Research Group, is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization.

Governor Quinn Statement on Illinois Senate Abolishing Legislative Scholarships PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:18

SPRINGFIELD – May 3, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today issued a statement regarding the Illinois Senate’s passage of HB 3810, which ends the troubled General Assembly tuition waiver program.

“Today, the Illinois Senate took a big step forward to do the right thing. I want to salute President John Cullerton for his leadership and urge the House to quickly concur with this long-overdue ethics reform.

“Abolishing a political scholarship program is the right thing for deserving students who need financial assistance to attend college. Illinois deserves to have a strong scholarship program that helps needy students go to college.

“As I have repeatedly advocated – scholarships – paid for by Illinois taxpayers- should be awarded only to those with merit who are in true financial need. As we continue to move forward to tackle reforming our pensions and Medicaid systems, this is an important bipartisan moment of progress.

“I look forward to working with the General Assembly night and day to make more progress in the remaining four weeks.”



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