Education & Schools
Simon advocates for Complete College reform in Washington and Springfield PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Kathryn Phillips   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:20

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will advocate for higher education reforms to increase college completion in both Washington DC and Springfield this week. Simon will join education experts in Washington DC this afternoon to release a new report from the Lumina Foundation that ranks states in degree attainment. Tomorrow, Simon will testify before the Illinois Senate Education Committee in support of a bill to improve college and career readiness in math.


EVENT: Release of A Stronger Nation through Higher Education report

DATE: Monday, March 26

TIME: 2:30 p.m. CT

LOCATION: Rayburn House Office Building, Committee on Education and the Workforce Hearing Room 2261, Washington D.C.

NOTE: Members of the media who cannot join this news conference in person can participate via teleconference by dialing 800-230-1085.


EVENT: Testimony to Senate Education Committee

DATE: Tuesday, March 27

TIME: 9 a.m.

LOCATION: 409 Capitol, Springfield



Don't let Congress double the student loan interest rate PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Murshed Zaheed   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:06

Tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: FIGHT to stop Republicans from doubling the interest rate on student loans
Clicking here will automatically add your name to this petition to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
"Do not let the interest rate double on federal student loans. Extend the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, keeping college education affordable for the 99%."
Automatically add your name:
Take action now!

Learn more about this campaign

CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.

Stop Republicans from doubling the interest rate on student loans.

This is unbelievable. The interest rates on federal student loans will double this summer if Congress doesn't take action.1

Urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: FIGHT to stop Republicans from doubling the interest rate on student loans. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Millions of American students from working class families are able to obtain a college education thanks to low-interest federal student loans. But now Congress is putting those loans in serious jeopardy at a time when students and their families can least afford to pay higher interest rates.

Back in 2007, when the Democrats were in charge of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. It reduced the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans incrementally over four academic years, from 6.8 percent at the time to the current 3.4 percent.2 The current Republican leadership in the House is planning to let this legislation expire on July 1, effectively doubling the interest rates on these loans. This will result in an average of $5,000 in additional payments for students who are scheduled to pay their loans backs in 5 years, and $11,000 for those who are paying back in 10.3

With Republicans in the House poised to double the interest on federal student loans, we need leadership from the Senate. Specifically, we need Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to stand up and fight on behalf of millions of American students:

Urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: FIGHT to stop Republicans from doubling the interest rate on student loans.

If Leader Reid leads the Democratic-controlled Senate to move first and take steps to pass legislation that ensures the interest rates remain fixed at 3.4 percent, it will force the hand of Congressional Republicans to either pass the measure or go on the record as the party fighting against the interest of millions of America's working class students and their families. But we need both the House and the Senate to pass it before July 1, so we need to convey our sense of urgency to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today.

Federal student loans with low interest rates, such as the subsidized Stafford loan, are designed to benefit students whose families make under $40,000 a year — folks who can least afford to see their interest rates jump.4 These loans help the neediest students, who are often not eligible to receive Pell Grants. Adding further financial stress on these students and their families by letting the interest rates double this July would be devastating, especially given the extremely fragile state of our economy.

Urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: FIGHT to stop Republicans from doubling the interest rate on student loans. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

As Sarah Jaffe observed in her excellent piece in AlterNet:

"It's worth noting, as well, that many of the big banks that make a killing on private student loans and still have billions of government-subsidized student debt on their books, are able to borrow money from the government through the Federal Reserve's discount window at nearly no interest at all. Why, then, are young people, who aren't guilty of trashing the economy but remain the victims of a rate of unemployment nearly twice that of the rest of the population, expected to pay more?"5

Now is the time for all of us to speak up on behalf of our students. Click here to automatically sign the petition and consider inviting students from your personal network to join the fight.

Click below to automatically sign our petition urging Senator Reid to fight to keep college education affordable and not let the interest rate double on federal student loans.

Thank you for speaking out to make sure that all students can afford a higher education — including those from working class families.

Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

PS: This issue is deeply personal for me. Coming from a working class family, I have been able to pursue my own aspirations by working hard and getting a great education from amazing academic institutions. This opportunity would not have been possible for someone like me if I hadn't had access to affordable federal student loans with low interest rates. I hope you will join this cause on behalf of the students and consider inviting any students you know in your personal network to join this fight by forwarding them this link:


1. Sarah Jaffe, "Is Congress Going to Double the Interest on Your Student Loan?," February 22, 2012.
2. Ann Carrns, "Rising Concerns Over Student Loans, Public and Private," the New York Times Blog, March 14, 2012.
3. Sarah Jaffe, "Is Congress Going to Double the Interest on Your Student Loan?," February 22, 2012.
4. Moe Bedard, "Vermont Senators Leahy And Sanders Join Bill To Prevent July Interest Rate Increase On Stafford Student Loans,", February 2, 2012.
5. Sarah Jaffe, "Is Congress Going to Double the Interest on Your Student Loan?," February 22, 2012.

Simon supports Complete College reform package PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Justin Stofferahn   
Friday, 23 March 2012 14:31

Report cards, math reforms to boost college completion rates

SPRINGFIELD – March 23, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, State Sen. Michael Frerichs and Women Employed are backing education reform bills that are designed to increase college completion rates and better prepare students for the workforce.

The Complete College reform package aims to improve college and career readiness, smooth transfers from community colleges to universities and make it easier for parents and students to compare higher education institutions.

The bills are being introduced following Simon’s fact-finding tour of the state’s 48 community colleges, and they reflect state and national efforts to boost graduation rates, build stronger relationships between schools and employers and move to a more transparent and accountable higher education system.

The Senate Higher Education Committee is expected to call the Sen. Lightford-sponsored legislation on college report cards and a college transfer audit for a vote on Monday. A third bill creating state-recommended math curriculum that aims to cut down remediation needs at college, sponsored by Sen. Frerichs, also will be called next week.

“Our reform package puts Illinois on track to have the best educated workforce in the nation,” said Simon, the Governor’s point person on education reform. “We want students to make informed choices. We want to send them to their chosen destinations ready to learn. And we want to make sure they transfer seamlessly between colleges, universities and the workforce. We’re approaching college completion from all angles, with the ultimate goal of graduating more students who are job ready.”

Sen. Lightford (D-Maywood) agreed to sponsor part of the Complete College Illinois reform package after successfully negotiating sweeping education reform bills last year, and Sen. Frerichs’ (D-Champaign) district is home to the state’s top university. The Complete College Illinois reform package will require collaboration among the K-12, community college, university and for-profit higher education systems.

“We want to continue our work to make higher education as accessible to Illinois’ working families as possible. That’s what this common sense legislative package is about,” Lightford said. “We’re seeking to make information more accessible and streamline the credit transfer process so that working families in Illinois have the information they need to choose the right school, and community college students can more easily make the transition to four-year institutions.”

“Employers in my district, and across the state, have called on the legislature to enact policies that would strengthen the standards that provide us with a top-notch educated work force,” Frerichs said. “The college reform package will raise those standards and reinforce our position as global leader in technology and agriculture.”

Women Employed, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to improve women’s economic status, backs Complete College reform package. It will help more women achieve the credentials they need to advance in their careers.

“Education is a very important factor in women being able to get good jobs and support families. And women who are trying to get ahead are wasting time and money on courses that they cannot transfer or programs that are not a good fit for them,” said Meegan Dugan Bassett, senior policy associate at Women Employed. “These bills will help make higher education in Illinois work better for the low- and middle-income families who need it most.”

The Complete College Illinois reform package contains three bills:

SB 3803 requires the higher education community to create a consumer report card that could contain information such as tuition and completion rates. The consumer report cards would be standard across all Illinois colleges and universities that accept students receiving state or federal financial aid. The P-20 Council will coordinate the project over two years, with input from education stakeholders across the state including the Illinois Community College Board and Board of Higher Education. SB 3803 will help students to make informed choices about where to attend college.

SB 3804 authorizes a comprehensive audit of transfers between community colleges and universities that accept students who receive state financial aid. The transcript audit will look for areas where transfer students are being denied credit for completed coursework and recommend ways to strengthen the state’s transfer system, known as the Illinois Articulation Initiative. SB 3804 will help students complete college on time and make better use of taxpayer dollars.

SB 3244 directs the Illinois State Board of Education to design math curriculum for high schools by March 2013. This would be the first-ever recommended statewide curriculum model for any subject. It would define the scope and sequence of study for math and math equivalent courses throughout a student’s high school years and could lead to early college enrollment. SB 3244 aims to better prepare students for post-secondary work and reduce expensive and time-consuming remedial math needs at colleges and universities.


Lt. Governor Simon, Experts to Gather on Capitol Hill to Release Latest College Attainment Report

and Discuss the Urgent Need to Redesign America’s Higher Education System

WHAT: Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and the Lumina Foundation, the largest private foundation focused on enrolling and graduating more Americans from college, will release a new, third edition of the foundation’s signature report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education. Detailed breakdowns of college attainment data will be made available at the national, state and county level. The report will also include attainment information for the nation’s 100 largest metro areas.


Experts will discuss: how America is doing as college completion rates continue to climb globally; what can be done to address tuition increases that have made the cost of a degree prohibitive for too many; what CEOs are saying about the availability of skilled workers as the economy improves, and much more.


Lumina Foundation selected Simon to represent Illinois in its Postsecondary Productivity Strategy Lab sites. The Strategy Labs provide policymakers in 22 states technical assistance on Lumina Foundation’s “Four Steps to Finishing First” reform agenda. The steps include performance funding, student incentives, new learning models and business efficiencies.


WHEN: Monday, March 26th

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. CT

*A reception will immediately follow in the same room.

WHERE:               Rayburn House Office Building

Committee on Education and the Workforce Hearing Room #2261

Washington, DC

Members of the media who cannot join this news conference in person can participate via teleconference by dialing: (800) 230-1085.

WHO: Speakers to include:

·         Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis

·         Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon

·         Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce Director Tony Carnevale

·         American Chamber of Commerce Executives President Mick Fleming 

RSVP: Any member of the media can join the teleconference by dialing the number above.


QUESTIONS: You can reach Lucia Anderson at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 317.951.5316 if you have any questions.


*The Stronger Nation report will be embargoed until 3:30 p.m. Monday, March 26.*


Daniel Dankert Named Central College Fellow PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Rachel Vogel   
Friday, 23 March 2012 14:16

PELLA, (03/22/2012)(readMedia)-- Daniel Dankert, a native of Davenport, has been awarded a P.H. Kuyper Fellowship from Central College. The P.H. Kuyper Fellowship is a three-year full-tuition award.

Fellowships, presented to incoming first-year students, are Central's most prestigious awards. Fellows are accorded a special mentoring relationship with a faculty member, resulting in a senior honors project. Dankert was awarded the fellowship following Central's Scholar Days in February. From over 250 applicants, three P.H. Kuyper fellows were named in 2012.

Central College is a private, four-year, residential liberal arts college in Pella, Iowa. Central's academic program offers 39 majors leading to a bachelor's degree, along with pre-professional programs and advising. Central was recognized in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation.

New School Lunch Rules PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 23 March 2012 13:34

‘Next We’ll Be Bringing in the Cafeteria Police’
Conservative Satirist Finds Humor, Fear Factor
in New School Lunch Rules

Effective March 26, kids will be required to put fruits or vegetables on their trays in the lunch line. School cafeterias with salad bars must monitor the salad eaters “to ensure that students actually take the minimum required portion size” deemed nutritionally necessary for their age.

No school kids will be served whole milk or even 2 percent-fat milk; only 1 percent or fat-free milk will be allowed. However, “students may decline milk,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture generously concedes in its new rules for school lunches.

It’s not hard to see what lies ahead, says Stephen Goldberg, author of Obama’s Shorts (, a collection of 23 satirical short stories that take a humorous look at the new rules and regulations governing Americans’ lives.

“How about a National Nutritional Enforcement Agency that provides federal agents, unarmed, of course, to make sure all students are Clean Plate Clubbers?” he asks.

And forget mandatory health insurance, he says, we have a much bigger problem.

“We’re ripe for a Patients’ Waiting Room Fairness Act. Some people can’t afford a phone or computer. Some can’t speak English. Why should they have to wait longer than people who can make appointments?

“The Waiting Room Fairness Act will ensure it’s first come, first served,” Goldberg says. “That’s only fair.”

A stand-up comic-turned-dentist, Goldberg says there are some serious concerns underlying his hyperbole. Too many Americans don’t understand the principles upon which the United States was created, so they’re blind to just how far from them we’ve strayed. There’s nothing like a dose of humor to provide some education.

“The Constitution set things up so we would be ruled from the bottom up with only a few things controlled by the federal government,” Goldberg says. “Now it is completely upside down.

“Take school lunches. Most parents pay for them. Shouldn’t they be the ones telling their kids what they should put on their plate? These new rules have been created, in part, to ‘help mitigate the childhood obesity trend,’ the USDA says. What if you’ve got a skinny kid who’s a picky eater and you want him to have the choice of drinking whole milk?”

The Constitution was crafted with the family as the political base, Goldberg says. For things a family couldn’t possibly accomplish, the Founding Fathers looked to communities to be in charge. And what the community couldn’t do, the state would handle.

“The federal government got only a few powers, like war and international trade. That also helped ensure that the different beliefs, cultures and values of different communities would be protected.

“Think it’s far-fetched imagining a day when federal agents search lunchboxes for cookie contraband?” Goldberg asks. “How about a National Potato Council accusing the feds of treating their tuber like a ‘second-class vegetable’ in its lunchroom rules?

“Yes, there is a National Potato Council. And yes, that’s what they said.”

About Stephen Goldberg

Stephen Goldberg started his professional life as a comedian and turned to dentistry as a more reliable way to make a living – though he never stopped getting his audience to laugh. He’s been married 45 years and has three children and three grandchildren.

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