Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2011

School Report Cards Don’t Report ISAT Scores

Chicago is handing out new report cards to each of its schools. The grades are meant to spark discussion between parents and schools about how to improve.

At Spry Community School, Principal Nilda Medina says the report cards are about transparency. "For the parents and the teachers as well, and for administrators, this is where we are at," she said.

At Spry, some things looked good, she said. "Well, student attendance-that's outstanding. It's 96.2. Safety-our students feel that they're very safe here-safe coming to school."

The report cards feature teacher attendance rates, and even report on whether the school is offering students enough healthy food and exercise. They don't report ISAT scores-which have come under fire lately for overstating student achievement.

Many Spry parents who came to school to get their own children's grades seemed unphased by their school's designation as a "middle-performing school that needs improvement."

Parent Martha Del Villar said she is satisfied with Spry, and quipped that if parents had complaints, it would probably be about their kids, not the teachers.

The district would not say how many schools received its lowest score. It's said those schools are at risk of being closed down.

Categories: Education
Tags: education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2011

Judge: Daley Can be Included in Torture Suit

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley is one step closer to being deposed in connection with alleged torture by Chicago police.

On Wednesday, a Federal judge ruled for the second time that Daley can be sued over alleged police torture.

The former mayor was the Cook County state's attorney back in the 1980s. That's when Michael Tillman was arrested for murder. Tillman said police under former commander Jon Burge tortured him into confessing. He said they put a gun to his head, poured soda in his nose and choked him with a plastic bag.

Last year, Tillman was exonerated after two decades in jail, and then sued several people he says were connected to the torture, ranging from individual officers to Daley.

In July, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ruled that Daley can be included in Tillman's lawsuit in his capacity as mayor.

Daley's lawyers appealed, but Wednesday the judge shot them down again. Tillman's lawyers reportedly hope to question the former mayor as soon as next month.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2011

Senate President Expects Vote on Gaming Next Week

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he expects a vote on gambling expansion when lawmakers return to Springfield next week for the fall session.

The Chicago Democrat says he expects a gambling expansion vote when lawmakers return to the Illinois Capitol Nov. 8 for a second week of work. He acknowledged disagreement remains over slots at race tracks.

Gov. Pat Quinn has threatened to veto legislation lawmakers passed in May that would add five casinos, including one in Danville and another in Chicago, and put slots at tracks. Quinn has said he's willing to support the new casinos but opposes slots at tracks. Some lawmakers say a gambling measure can't pass without including slots at tracks.

Cullerton says lawmakers have gotten input from Quinn but he can't say they have an agreement on legislation.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2011

WILL To Take Part in Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test

WILL runs tests of the Emergency Alert System every week --- maybe you've heard them. But those tests are on the state and local level. Coming up Wednesday, Nov. 9th, a national EAS test will involve every broadcast, cable and satellite station in the country.

On November 9th at 1 PM, FEMA will send out an alert code for a national emergency to the first level of broadcast stations in the Emergency Alert System relay structure. Other stations will relay it until it reaches every station in the country, including this one. Patti Thompson is with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

"it is just a test," Thompson said. "It's important for the federal government to test the entire system, so that if there are any weaknesses identified that they can be corrected before we have a true emergency."

The test, scheduled to last for approximately 45-to-60 seconds, will include audio telling you that a test is being conducted. But the text shown on TV screens won't mention that there is no real emergency. The Federal Communications Commission is encouraging TV stations to run their own text explaining the test. And they're trying to get the word out that when the Emergency Alert System is triggered across the country, Wednesday afternoon at 1 PM Central time --- it's only a test.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2011

Author Wes Moore Talks About Meeting the Other Wes Moore

More than a decade ago, a man named Wes Moore was convicted of murdering a police officer during a botched robbery. What he didn't know was that another man with the same name grew up not far from him in Baltimore. The two frequented the same places, had run-ins with the law, and were fatherless. While one Wes Moore will spend the rest of his life behind bars, the other has a successful career as a businessman, motivational speaker, and author.

In the book titled "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates," Wes Moore talks about meeting the man with the same name, but a very different life. Moore spoke with Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers shortly before giving a presentation on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the University of Illinois' Alice Campbell Alumni Center as part of the United Way of Champaign County's Pillar Celebration.

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Categories: Biography, Education, History

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2011

Tenure/Tenure Track Faculty On Strike at SIU-Carbondale

Tenure and tenure track faculty on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus are on strike.

Negotiations broke down late Wednesday evening. Faculty Association officials said the administration rejected all of their proposals and offered no new proposals during contract talks on Wednesday. Faculty Association spokesman Dave Johnson said the administration has shown no interest in real bargaining. He says the university has been willing to meet but not to move.

"The board team has now rejected all of our proposals, as they've rejected so many proposals in the past," Johnson said. "They've offered no new proposals of their own, no alterations of our proposals really nothing at all today."

In a statement SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng said classes will go on as scheduled, and she hopes to continue negotiations toward a contract with the Faculty Association.

Meanwhile three other unions have reached tentative deals. Union leaders say the proposals, which have yet to be voted on, resolve many issues involving job security and other concerns. Details of those agreements have not been released.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 02, 2011

Urbana Police Review Panel Hears Its First Appeal

The resident who filed the first case heard by Urbana's Civilian Police Review Board says it exposes a flawed process.

Aaron Ammons of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice filed the complaint stemming from an incident in September of last year. He says officers arrived outside a relative's home with guns drawn, when it was learned later than officers arrived at the wrong address, and that someone elsewhere was being threatened at gunpoint. Ammons says an officer threatened him when asking what they were doing at his relative's home.

The case was heard and sustained by the CPRB last week. Urbana's police review panel was first formed in 2008. Ammons says he recognizes nothing else will be heard in his case, but hopes the city has learned some lessons. He says those include bringing the officer or officers cited in a complaint before the panel.

"I think from a public standpoint, it's pretty clear," said Ammons. "It doesn't make sense to have a complaint filed,and go to the CPRB, and the very person that the complaint is filed against doesn't have to show up. That's unacceptable."

Urbana Human Relations Officer Todd Rent says the review panel can subpoena witnesses, but not police officers. He says a police commander sits in on meetings in an advisory role only, without a vote. Rent says there are no other appeals currently waiting CPRB action.

Ammons also contends that the Civilian Police Review Board's Chair, Tom Costello, was trying to justify the officer's behavior instead of acting independently. Costello says the group followed the process as prescribed by the city's ordinance. But he says it doesn't mean there won't be a review of how that appeal was heard.

"I think we're going to take a look at it, and see how it went, and see if there's some modifications that we need to make," said Costello. "With any part of the process, this is an evolving process, we have to see how it goes."

Rent says of the 6 complaints filed about Urbana police conduct this year, one is still being reviewed by the police department. With its first appeal heard, Rent says he expects future cases to go more smoothly.

Ammons says CU Citizens for Peace and Justice will be working on suggestions of its own to bring before the city.

Talk of a citizens police review board in Champaign has resurfaced, largely at the urging of city council member Will Kyles, and after allegations of a police beating during the arrest of 18-year old Calvin Miller.

At Tuesday night's Champaign City Council meeting, Council member Karen Foster said she is open to that idea, but she said she'd rather first explore other solutions to resolve communication issues that exist between the police department and the rest of the community. Mayor Don Gerard has said he's open to such a group.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 02, 2011

UI Printing Department Still Open, But Smaller

The University of Illinois printing department will be downsized and reorganized, but will remain open.

The university said in May 2010 that it would close its printing services department. The school blamed a $1 million budget deficit and said the unit couldn't get enough business to cover its expenses. But The News-Gazette reports Wednesday the department will be renamed Document Services and will keep operating.

The department has taken cost-cutting steps. It has reduced its workforce from 39 to 19 and sold printing equipment. In recent years the department's annual expenses were as much as $4.5 million. School officials estimate that figure will be less than $2.5 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2012. The unit's deficit is down to about $730,000.

Categories: Economics, Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 02, 2011

SIU-C Bracing For Potential Strike on Thursday

UPDATE: Tenure and tenure-track faculty at SIUC announced a strike late Wednesday night, after contract talks broke down. Meanwhile, three other unions on the Carbondale campus have reached tentative agreements.

A top administrator of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale says she's still hopeful negotiators can reach an agreement on a contract proposal that would avert a looming strike by the school's educators.

Rita Cheng said though the threat of a walkout is real, she remains confident that only a small percentage of faculty and staff will strike, and she said university operations will go on as usual.

"A far majority of our administration, who have been faculty for years, will step into the classroom and teach," Cheng said. "Other faculty across the campus, and retired faculty in the community, have already called and volunteered to cover for classes."

Members of four different bargaining units say they've been negotiating for more than a year for a new contract, and it's time to deal or walk out.

Several issues remain outstanding, involving money, tenure, distance education and job security.

SIU President Glenn Poshard said calls to tie faculty pay to increases in the university budget are not fair to those who pay for the hikes.

"If we're going to say, well let's talk about increases because of student tuition increases, and put aside the fact that the state has cut us drastically, then I guess we put the whole financial position of the university in the hands of the students from now on," Poshard said. "That's not what we want to do, and I don't believe that the faculty want to do this, either."

Poshard said administrators have worked hard to avoid financial exigency, as well as staff cuts and layoffs.

"We've done everything under the worst financial conditions of the state and of the university to avoid doing anything like that, and we haven't," he said.

With the threat of a strike looming on Thursday, the recently formed group known as Faculty for Sensible Negotiations began a signature drive on Monday.

The group wants to determine the faculty interest in retaining or replacing the Faculty Association as their exclusive bargaining unit.

FSN leader and SIU-C Zoology associate professor Mike Eichholz said he has been fed up with how faculty contracts are negotiated since he arrived at SIU-C in 2002.

Eichholz said the signature drive is meant to gauge whether faculty want to continue with the Faculty Association, replace it as a bargaining unit or decertify and negotiate contracts individually.

"You know, we'd like to see an approach where we'd try to work hand-in-hand with the administration to make the university better, instead of an approach where it seems it's an 'us-or-them' approach," Eichholz said. "You know, some of the demands, to me, just don't seem to be appropriate."

He said the group would prefer all the cards be returned by Friday, but will accept any turned in after that date. He also said he thinks there must be an alternative to the current contract negotiation structure.

"It seems like every time there's a contract negotiation, we end up to the point where there are threats of a strike, a tremendous amount of negative publicity for the university," Eichholz said. "It seems like this time, at first the rhetoric wasn't quite as bad but over the last couple of months it's clearly gotten worse to the point where there's likely going to be a strike - which I think is extremely unfortunate."

Cheng said while it's still unclear what effect the labor strife will have, there will be repercussions for the university.

"This is not where we'd like to be at this time," she said. "We'd like to have positive press, we'd like to be moving forward with our positive messages for our prospective students, and we're getting, instead, this type of coverage on the news.

Categories: Economics, Education, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 02, 2011

Cubs Fire Manager Mike Quade

Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade will not return next season.

Theo Epstein, the team's new president of baseball operations, announced the decision Wednesday after traveling to Florida to inform Quade.

Epstein praised Quade, but said the Cubs will benefit from someone who can come in "with a clean slate and offer new direction.''

Quade got the job after a 37-game audition at the end of the 2010 season, replacing Lou Piniella on an interim basis. The Cubs went 24-13 and he was chosen over Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg for the job last season.

The Cubs ended the year 71-91, finishing fifth in the NL Central.

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

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