Springfield, Ill. – State Senator Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) said he has partnered with Passages Hospice in Lisle to collect non-perishable food and winter clothing for local residents in need from now until the end of November. The items will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Goodwill of Naperville.
“With the upcoming cold winter months, it’s important that as a community, we help where we can for those who are in need,” Sen. Sandack said. “I’m pleased to be able to partner with Passages Hospice in order to promote this food and clothing drive for those throughout our communities.”
Sen. Sandack said the most-needed food items are boxed casseroles, instant potato and rice dishes, hearty soups, and canned vegetables and fruits. Gently used winter clothing, coats, hats and gloves are also needed.
“I encourage people to consider picking up a few extra cans or boxes of food for the drive the next time they go grocery shopping for their family, or to give away a coat that they don’t wear as much anymore,” Sen. Sandack said. “It’s as easy as that and it will go to someone who truly needs it.”
Items can be dropped off at the Passages Hospice office located at 515 Warrenville Road in Lisle. For more information on the drive or about the organization, please call Passages Hospice at 630-824-0400 or visit Passages Hospice on the web at www.passageshospice.com.
The state released its annual School Report Card on Oct. 31 said Sen. Sandack, which showed that despite increased per pupil spending, Illinois schools continue to fail to meet federal standards for “Adequate Yearly Progress” designated in the No Child Left Behind Act.
Also this week, the federal government announced its approval of a controversial Cook County Medicaid expansion, and despite an arbitrator’s ruling on the contentious state facility closures pushed by Gov. Pat Quinn the facility closure struggle continues.
Sen. Sandack said that although the state continues to increase per student spending, many Illinois schools once again to failed to meet federal standards for "Adequate Yearly Progress" set out in the No Child Left Behind Act. However, the reasons behind the statistics are complex say education experts and may say more about the challenges of educating some students than about the overall state of education in Illinois.
The Illinois State Board of Education released its annual School Report Card Oct. 31 and the results provide ammunition for all sides in the education debate.
In the latest report, 66 percent of Illinois primary and secondary schools failed to make adequate yearly progress. However, looking only at Illinois High Schools that number climbed to 98 percent. In addition, about half of all high school juniors in the state failed the Prairie State Achievement Examination. On the other hand, more than 80 percent of grade school students passed the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.
At the same time, per pupil spending averaged $11,664 statewide for the 2010-2011 school year, an increase of more than $2,000 since 2007. Average teacher salaries were $66,616, while the average administrator was paid $110,870.
Some critics point to the apparent disconnect between the cost of education and the results. Even education officials have said there is no clear link between spending and student success.
"There is really not a direct correlation between spending and achievement," former State School Superintendent Glenn "Max" McGee told the Chicago Tribune.
The ongoing debate over test scores and school evaluations has led the state to move toward new standards. Beginning next year, the Illinois State Report Cards will be revised with new standards. The state is also seeking a federal waiver from some of the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
For information on how school districts performed, the School Report Cards are available on the Illinois State Board of Education website. Additionally, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have created special sites with tools to review local school districts.
Recently, Gov. Pat Quinn’s fight to close a number of state facilities was bolstered by an arbitrator’s ruling which found that the Quinn administration has taken reasonable steps to work with union workers on closing the facilities, and should be allowed to proceed with shuttering the facilities. In addition, a state board charged with reviewing healthcare facilities, gave the green light to the Governor's plan to close the Jacksonville Development Center, which houses developmentally disabled persons.
Though the arbitrator noted that “the ideal solution” would be to keep the facilities open, he ruled the prison closures would not present a “clear and present danger” to facility employees. However, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) questioned the arbitrator’s determination; the union has long contended that the state’s correctional system is vastly over-crowded, arguing that closing and consolidating facilities will make circumstances more dangerous for prison employees.
In response, AFSCME has asked an Alexander County judge to retain the current injunction prohibiting closures. AFSCME is also asking the judge to vacate the arbitrator’s opinion, contending state law requires employers to provide a safe work environment. A recent Associated Press investigation revealed that the state had eased security rules for prison transfers, despite promises from the administration that no changes in procedures or policies would take place.
Spurred by the ruling, the Quinn administration also turned to the courts, requesting a Cook County judge lift the order to allow the state to move forward with the long-sought closures. It is not known how quickly the judges will respond to these requests.
In a separate action, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which is appointed by the Governor, voted 6-1 to allow the Quinn administration to proceed with closing the Jacksonville Developmental Center as early as Nov. 21. The board ruling came despite testimony against the closure from Jacksonville's mayor, State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Carlinville) and State Rep. Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville).
Late last week, the Obama Administration approved a controversial federal waiver that will allow Cook County to begin enrolling persons early in the expanded Medicaid program under the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare).
The early implementation of the Medicaid expansion was authorized by House Bill 5007, which passed the Illinois General Assembly on a largely partisan roll call in May. Most Republicans voted against the expansion, which is expected to add between 100,000 and 250,000 adults to Medicaid.
Opponents argued that, given the soaring costs of the existing program and the decision to reduce benefits for many seniors, children and chronically ill individuals already on Medicaid, it was wrong to add thousands of childless adults to the Medicaid rolls. Cook County sought the expansion, saying that the affected individuals were already receiving medical care though emergency rooms and free clinics and that the waiver would save the county as much as $100 million by forcing the federal government to help pick up the tab.
In a political maneuver that involved first firing one board member, Governor Quinn was able to install a former television reporter with a recent bankruptcy this week to head the multimillion dollar entity that runs U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox.
Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had publicly been at odds for weeks over the Governor's desire to appoint Kelly Kraft as the new CEO of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.
Emanuel questioned the qualifications of Kraft, who had no background in managing large organizations. Questions were also raised about Kraft after it was revealed she had declared bankruptcy three years ago after racking up more than $100,000 in debt, mostly from credit cards.
Sen. Sandack described Kraft’s new position as “yet another typical Illinois appointment of someone objectively unqualified to be a member of an important board.”
The board which oversees the Sports Facility is comprised of four members appointed by the Governor and three by the Mayor of Chicago. However, Quinn had been unable to install Kraft because one of the Governor's appointees, Manny Sanchez, did not support the appointment. On Thursday, Sanchez was told the Governor had replaced him with Dr. Quentin Young, 89, who then subsequently voted for Kraft.
Hurricane Sandy has reminded us all how important it is to prepare for natural and man-made disasters ahead of time.
The Centers for Disease Control has put together a long list of items that they suggest is important to have in the event that evacuation or home seclusion is needed. The list includes most items we would think of, such as water and a first aid kit, but it also includes items not so commonly thought of, such as maps of the area, personal documents, and a week’s supply of medications.
In addition to a disaster supplies kit, the site gives tips for emergency water supplies, such as how to properly store water and alternate water supplies if necessary. Lastly, the site provides similar tips for food storage and consumption as it does water, and encourages families to develop a family disaster plan.
To find out more information and start preparing you and your family for possible emergencies, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/planning/. For broader emergency topics, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/.
Despite some high tides on Lake Michigan, Illinois was spared the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. But that didn’t stop people and businesses across the state from mobilizing to help East Coasters devastated by the disaster.
Red Cross volunteers from Rockford, Dixon, Bloomington, Quincy, Carbondale and other communities are en route to the disaster area to help however they can. Meanwhile, Illinois Red Cross chapters across the state are appealing for blood donations to offset shortages on the East Coast.
Illinois-based Caterpillar is also getting into gear, instructing its dealers across the Eastern United States to provide generators to help with Sandy-related power shortages. Utility giants Ameren and ComEd were also offering help by sending Illinois workers to New Jersey to assist with the power situation.
The enormity of the disaster is leaving many Illinoisans wondering how we can make a difference. Fortunately, there are many reputable organizations which stand ready to help.
All the donations given to the American Red Cross will provide direct food, housing and other assistance to those impacted by the hurricane. You can visit www.redcross.org or text “redcross” to the number 90999 to donate $10.
The Salvation Army is on hand to provide warm food and clean-up kits for disaster victims. You can visit www.salvationarmyusa.org to donate and for more information.
AmeriCares is in the process of providing emergency supplies to disaster victims. http://www.americares.org/.
The Humane Society of the United States is accepting donations to help endangered pets and their owners who are victims of Sandy. Click here for more information.