Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Access takes another hit

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Quinn was at it again last Friday, when he signed into law House Bill 1716. The law further erodes the state’s Freedom of Information Act – something Quinn and the state Legislature have been doing since FOIA reform went into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

Some of HB 1716’s lowlights:

• It eliminates the requirement that public bodies ask for permission from the Public Access Counselor’s Office of the state Attorney General before denying records requests based on exemptions for personal privacy and preliminary drafts of documents.

• It allows governments to take up to 21 days to respond to FOIA requests by “recurrent” requesters – people who file more than 50 FOIA requests in a year, more than 15 requests in a month or more than seven in a week.

• It allows government entities to charge for the actual costs of retrieving information stored off-site.

Click on the following for the complete story:  http://www.nwherald.com/2011/08/29/access-takes-another-hit/apziqnd/

St. James Capital Campaign demands “allegiance”

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The following letter was sent home Friday with children from the St. James pre-school (3 year old and older).  My latest understanding is that the same message will be sent out to parents of regular school children at St. James.  Will children attending CCD classes (Wednesday, Thursday evenings and Sunday morning) also be required to give their parents such a letter? No, CCD classes start after Labor Day.

I have a problem equating Catholic faith with supporting a zoning request—opposing the zoning request is being against God.

 

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campaign committee

Mr. Rod Snyder and Mrs. Cathy Vendemia are co-chairpersons of the Campaign Leadership Committee.  Father Geary is on vacation the weeks of August 22 thru September 5, 2011.

Updated: Index of postings on Concerned Catholics of Boone County

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Click on the following to read these postings:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Court delays superintendent pay case

August 23, 2011

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ regional school superintendents are going to have to show a central Illinois judge why he should force the state to pay them if the superintendents are going to get a paycheck anytime soon.

Illinois’ 44 regional superintendents have been working without a paycheck since July 1, when Gov. Pat Quinn used his veto power to strip $11 million from the state budget. Last Friday, the superintendents filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court asking a judge to issue a temporary restraining order that would force the Quinn administration to pay them.

But it will be Thursday before the superintendents learn if their case will go forward.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt on Tuesday delayed a hearing on the restraining order request, giving lawyers for Quinn more time to prepare their response to the lawsuit. Schmidt scheduled a hearing Thursday, and tipped both sides to the question he wants answered.

“Temporary restraining orders usually stop something,” Schmidt said. “This request would force the state to start paying the superintendents. I’d like to hear arguments on that.”

Terence Corrigan, assistant bureau chief for the Illinois Attorney General’s Springfield office, argued the case Tuesday on behalf of the Quinn administration. Corrigan asked Schmidt for more time to deal with what Corrigan called the “serious constitutional issues” involved in the superintendents’ requests.

Bob Daiber, president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, which lobbies for the regional superintendents, agreed that there are serious constitutional issues at hand. But he said the case before Schmidt is simple.

“It stops the state from violating the law,” Daiber said.

Daiber has been talking with Quinn’s office since July 1. He said the reality of two months without pay forced the superintendents into court.

“We’re looking at going another complete month without pay. We realize that is we continue with talks, we’ll probably go a third month without pay,” Daiber said. “There are members of our association that feel we have exhausted our options.”

Kelly Kraft, the governor’s budget spokeswoman, said the administration continues to talk with Daiber and the regional superintendents.

“We continue to work toward a short-term solution to ensure payment through the veto session,” Kraft said. “The conversations continue to be productive.”

The governor has said for months that he wants to pay the superintendents, but wants to take the money from local sources. Local voters elect regional superintendents, but the state pays their nearly $100,000 a year salaries.

But Quinn’s plan to shift superintendents’ pay from the state to local taxpayers requires action from the Illinois General Assembly. Lawmakers are not expected to be back at the Capitol until late October. Once they return, there also is a possibility that legislators will overrule Quinn’s veto and restore state funding for the superintendents.

Daiber is quick to say the superintendents cannot wait that long.

“We already have one regional superintendent who intends to leave at the end of this month because of the situation,” Daiber said.

Daiber said St. Clair County Regional Superintendent Brad Harriman has indicated he will leave his post soon.

Harriman said his last day will be Sept. 7.

“I’m gone,” Harriman said by phone Tuesday. “I’ve already made up my mind.”

Harriman said he was not thinking about leaving his post until recently. Even if the state starts sending checks in September, he said he will not not stay.

“This is something that wasn’t even on my mind two weeks ago,” Harriman added. “And I know I’ll take a hit to my pension, but I’m going to retire early.”

Harriman was elected to his second term in 2010. He said he does not have another job lined-up.

Both the Quinn administration and the superintendents are due back in Schmidt’s courtroom Thursday afternoon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Despite complaint, textbook stays in St. Charles classes

Parent sees liberal bias, but board says replacing book would be costly

Parent Jennifer Nazlian had challenged the third-grade book "Social Studies Alive!: Our Community and Beyond," saying it has a liberal slant on issues such as health care, immigration, unions and natural resources.
After Superintendent Don Schlomann ruled last month that the book should stay in the classroom, Nazlian appealed to the school board. She has said she is not trying to ban the book but wants additional teaching resources used if the book remains.

Click on the following for more details:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-talk-st-charles-textbook-0817-20110817,0,4677142.story

Friday, August 19, 2011

Low enrollment leaves empty EIU dorms

The university's freshmen enrollment dropped by approximately 200 students in fall 2010 after declining by about 100 students the year before.

EIU officials hope enrollment will level off this fall but could go down a little again, Hudson said.

The university is trying to add to enrollment and has cut tuition for students from surrounding states, but those efforts are relatively new, Hudson said.

Click on the following for more details:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-low-enrollment-leaves-empty-eiu-dorms-20110808,0,4119313.story

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quinn to lawmakers: Eliminate 'perk' scholarships

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn used his veto pen today to urge lawmakers to end the legislative scholarship program for the second time in as many years.
The governor rejected a bill last year that would have put a ban on lawmakers awarding the scholarships to campaign contributors or their families. In the veto message, he called on the legislature to instead approve an abolition of the program. Lawmakers never tried to override the veto, so the underlying bill died.
This time around, Quinn made the changes to the legislation himself. He used his amendatory power to tweak House Bill 1353, a bill that in its original form would bar lawmakers from giving the scholarship to family members. If the General Assembly approves his changes, the program would be eliminated on June 1, 2012.

Click on the following for more details:  http://illinoisissuesblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/quinn-to-lawmakers-eliminate-perk.html

Here are some of the scholarship recipients during retired Rep. Wait’s reign:

Click on the photocopy to enlarge:

Leg Scholarship 1 of 4

Leg Scholarship 2 of 4

Leg Scholarship 3 of 4

Leg Scholarship 4 of 4

'No Child Left Behind' waivers are a product of congressional gridlock

By Jamey Dunn
President Barack Obama called for a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act before the beginning of the school year, but gridlock in Congress has led his administration to pursue a stopgap measure to keep thousands of schools from failing under the law's standards.

The Obama administration has been pushing for a change for more than a year, warning that up to 80 percent of schools will be labeled as failures in the near future. Obama rolled out his plan for a rewrite in March 2010. “The stakes are high. As it currently exists, NCLB is creating a slow-motion educational train wreck for children, parents and teachers. Under the law, an overwhelming number of schools in the country may soon be labeled as 'failing,' eventually triggering impractical and ineffective sanctions,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in an opinion peace he penned in July urging Congress to rewrite the law.
In a Congress that is falling into venomous partisan struggles over authorizing more federal borrowing and approving funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, two things that have been generally routine actions, changes to the No Child Left Behind Act, which is the current version of the complicated and controversial Elementary and Secondary Education Act, have little chance of being approved quickly. “The law, NCLB, as it currently stands is four years overdue for being rewritten. It is far too punitive; it is far too prescriptive. It led to a dumbing down of the standards, led to a narrowing of the curriculum,” Duncan said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

 

 

… the administration is going around Congress for the time being and plans to offer states waivers so they do not have to meet the ever-increasing goals of the act. But the feds say they will not just give states a free pass. “Where there’s a high bar, where folks are really doing the right thing for children, we want to give them a lot more flexibility,” Duncan said.
The Department of Education plans to announce the requirements for waivers in September.

Read the rest of article by clicking on the following: http://illinoisissuesblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/no-child-waivers-are-product-of.html

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

District’s first STEM school opens doors

thumbnail[4]Washington Academy is taking this challenge and running with it. Principal Megan Johnson stated that during staff development this summer, teachers created a vision statement: “Washington Academy focuses on student-centered excellence through autonomous learning that emphasizes ownership and responsibility for personal growth. This vision will develop independent, critical thinkers who will become the global, competitive leaders of tomorrow.”

They also worked out a 3-year plan which includes the school curriculum expansion next year to K-8.

Ms. Johnson went on to say that the school will adopt an integrated curriculum approach with hands-on projects sure to capture students’ interest and creativity.

Click on the following for the rest of his story:  http://www.belvideredailyrepublican.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6844:districts-first-stem-school-opens-doors&catid=106:belvidere&Itemid=508