(Rock Island, IL)  With the recent influx of immigrants, many children and families are struggling to understand the new culture and language.  But thanks to a new federal and state-funded program, help is available.

The Lights ON for Learning Family Literacy Program is the result of a partnership among the Rock Island Regional Office of Education, Black Hawk College, the Church of Peace, the Rock Island Public Library and the Rock Island Public School District #41.  The program is being highlighted with a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 10:30 am at the Church of Peace (1114 12th Street in Rock Island) in the Fellowship Hall.  Details of the federal grant will be announced and then local celebrities will read to the families.

Attending the news conference will be Rock Island Mayor, Dennis Pauley; Rock Island Schools Superintendent, Rick Loy; the Superintendent of the Regional Office of Education, Jim Widdop, as well as representatives from Black Hawk College, the Rock Island Public Library and Church of Peace.  The teachers and the families involved in the program will also be available for interviews.  After the news conference Mayor Pauley and Superintendents Widdop and Loy will read to the families.

The program is from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays at the Church of Peace.  A typical day at the Lights ON for Learning Family Literacy program consists of GED lessons, English as a Second Language tutoring, lunch and activities with their children, parenting and life skills, and computer and library skills training.


New Law Requires Post-Trip Inspections, Two-Way Radios

CHICAGO - November 17, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that will significantly improve the safety of Illinois' students riding school buses.

The law amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to require all school bus drivers conduct comprehensive post-trip inspections to ensure that children, and other passengers, are not left unattended on a bus. The new law also requires all school buses be equipped with two-way radio systems designed to alert drivers to incoming communications, requests or alerts from school districts or emergency service providers.

"The safety of our children is of paramount importance to the people of Illinois," said Governor Quinn. "This new law prevents children from being left unattended on a school bus and also ensures that bus drivers receive important information while on the road."

At a bill signing ceremony held at the Andrew Jackson Language Academy, Governor Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 932, which was sponsored by Sen. James DeLeo (D-Chicago) and Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago). The law is effective immediately.

Failure to conduct a post-trip bus inspection can result in the driver's permit being suspended by the Illinois Secretary of State.

In addition, the new law states that school bus owners must provide emergency two-way radios that enable drivers to send and receive information from their companies and local public safety agencies. Drivers are required to test the radios before their bus can be operated. Prior to this law, the State allowed school buses to be equipped with two-way radios at the bus owner's discretion.

At the signing event, Governor Quinn was joined by Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State.


Environmental News

(Kansas City, Kan., Nov.17, 2009) - Entries are now being sought for the 2009 President's Environmental Youth Awards, which recognize individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school) and youth organizations for protecting our nation's air, water and land.

The program, which honors a variety of environmental projects developed by students, is open to students in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska through EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan.

The program has two components: The regional certificate program and the regional award winner. Regional certificates are awarded by each of the regional offices of the EPA. Each regional office also selects one first-place project as its regional award winner, and the sponsor and winner of that award travel to Washington, D.C., to receive their award.

Projects must be postmarked by Thursday, December 31, 2009. Program guidelines, eligibility information and applications are available online at http://www.epa.gov/enviroed/peya/index.html

or by contacting Denise Morrison toll-free, 1-800-223-0425. Regional award winners will be notified in January 2010.

Here's a brief look at Region 7's award winning project from last year:

2008 - Recycle Rally, Scottsbluff Neb. High School, Scottsbluff, Neb. - Elizabeth Turnbo, a student from Scottsbluff High School, organized a family event to educate and inform the Scottsbluff community about the importance of recycling and where to take recyclable items. The rally featured six games, five informational booths and four displays, all made from recyclable materials, as well as an informational handout that included maps to local recycling facilities.

More than 250 people, or more than twice the crowd that Turnbo hoped for, participated in the Recycle Rally. The Recycle Rally has become an annual event.

# # #

Attention Quad City high school students!  Planning for college?  Confused about financial aid?  Plan to attend a free presentation offered by Rivermont Collegiate and the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN)!   This presentation is extremely helpful for seniors and their parents, reducing the confusion that often accompanies the financial aid process.  Families will learn how to complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as information on a variety of financial aid concerns.

How do I apply for financial aid?  How is it decided how much aid I will receive?  What are the application deadlines?  Why types of assistance are available?  Get answers!  Plan to join us Tuesday, November 17th at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium on the Rivermont campus, located directly off 18th Street behind K&K Hardware in Bettendorf.  This event is free and open to the community.

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate contact Cindy Murray, Director of Admissions at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or murray@rvmt.org.

Rivermont Collegiate is thrilled to announce senior Roshan Babu, son of Dr. and Mrs. Hari Babu of Rock Island, has been chosen as a Semifinalist in the 2009 Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology.  With high academic standards, rigorous judging, and emphasis on authentic scientific research, the Siemens Competition is regarded by the most prestigious universities as the leading science and mathematics research-based competition for high school students.  Roshan is the only student from Iowa to receive such a distinction - his selection as a Semifinalist is an exceptional achievement!

Roshan's research project, "Pore Forming Activity of Mutant Forms of Bax: ?C19Bax (C62A, C126A)", was completed under the mentorship of Paul Schlesinger of Washington University in St. Louis.  Roshan spent six weeks over the summer at the University of Missouri - St. Louis as part of the STARS (Students and Teachers as Research Scientists) program, gaining real-world laboratory experience while completing the project.  Roshan, who has attended Rivermont since Kindergarten, is currently researching competitive dental and medical programs at universities throughout the United States.  We look forward to Roshan's future contributions to the world of science and medicine!

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate contact Cindy Murray at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or murray@rvmt.org

October 07, 2009, Santa Maria, California -- As anyone whose followed the news knows, unemployment rates in September rose to the highest in 26 years.

In promoting its new work from home study course (The Overnight SEO Consultant, list price $497) a small California-based business author and consultant is taking the radical approach of giving away $4 million worth of their training course-10,000 memberships-to interested people at a price to defray bandwidth expenses ($1 each membership).

"No one's making any money on the front of this giveaway," said author and consultant Andre Bell. "I'm turning my back on trying to earn any money from the sale of this product to celebrate and show support for National Disability Employment Awareness Month."

"More than 7 million people are unemployed right now including many with disabilities.  Having seen several family members deal with the unique challenges of disabilities over the years I can imagine how tough things are right now in today's economy.

This course teaches how to work from home in a unique area of consulting to local companies. We're not hiding any overhead in the $1 deal. This is a huge course. The $1 is to cover bandwidth to keep the site live once the site approaches server limits. We see this as primarily a word-of-mouth course, and we're convinced the average person who participates in the course will recommend it to two or three friends. So everyone wins."

The rules of the promotion are straight forward:

- The promotion offer is open to disabled individuals, whether currently employed or unemployed
- Access to the course or course materials may not be shared or given away to others
- Membership is limited to access to course materials. Membership does not include free consulting or one-on-one coaching to individual students.

All proceeds in excess of web hosting expenses and expenses associated with digital delivery from the promotion will be donated to charity.

Enrollment into the course is available through a special link at http://www.overnightseoconsultant.com/enable/

Once enrollment limit has been reached the enrollment link will be disabled.

DES MOINES, IA (09/24/2009)(readMedia)-- Sergeant Major Michael Matson, a Junior Army Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC) teacher from Davenport Central High School, is a 2009 Excellence in Education Award runner-up. The award is sponsored by the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), the Iowa Farm Bureau, WHO Radio, KDSM Fox 17, and STAPLES. Juhl was among a top field of over 70 teachers?all nominated by colleagues, students, parents, and community members because of the difference they make every day in the lives of Iowa's schoolchildren.

"This award is truly about recognizing the educators who work hard on a daily basis and rarely get the recognition they so richly deserve," said Chris Bern, president of the ISEA. "All of the nominations are a testament to the dedication and compassion Iowa educators have for their students and demonstrate how educators go above and beyond the scope of their work and change the lives of the students they teach."

Mike was the instructor who started the JROTC program at Davenport Central High School and has a deep commitment to shaping the cadets into strong, self-reliant leaders who are responsible citizens. Basic to the program is improving the cadets' ability to communicate both orally and in writing?something that was successfully demonstrated in spades as Mike's nominator was a former student who wrote a superior essay outlining Mike's special abilities and love for his career.

"Clearly Mike taught his young students well as demonstrated by the young man who wrote to nominate Mike," Bern said. "The essay was compelling in that the young man's story was tough, but it was also a testament to Mike's skills as a compassionate leader and teacher who clearly cares about his students. Mike is in a tough field, but manages to show a tender side that gets through to his kids and they respond to him. He obviously has affected many lives for the better and that's what this award is all about. We are very proud to count him among the education professionals who go to work each and every day, helping kids and shaping the future."

Now in its eleventh year, the 2009 Excellence in Education Award honors the countless educators across the state that, like Mike Matson, go the extra mile to make a difference. Nominations were solicited beginning in August through September 16, and forms were available from the ISEA and at local county Farm Bureau offices.

Matson will receive a gift certificate from STAPLES during an awards ceremony and banquet on Tuesday, October 20, at the Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines, courtesy of the Iowa Farm Bureau.

The winner of the 2009 Excellence in Education Award is Nancy Kunickis, a language arts teacher at Laurens-Marathon Community Middle School in Laurens. Other runners-up are Annette Baker, an English teacher at South Hardin High School in Eldora; Mike Earll, a vocational agriculture teacher at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School in Sibley; and Tim Juhl, an instrumental music teacher at North Butler High School in Greene.

All of the nominees, along with the individuals who nominated them, are invited to attend the awards banquet at no charge. The Iowa Farm Bureau will also provide free tours of the Iowa Hall of Pride, located within the Hy-Vee Hall.

-- 30 --

Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will make college more affordable for Iowa families

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) voted today to support a historical investment in higher education. The bill passed the House this afternoon.

HR 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), will make college education more affordable, transform early education opportunities, and build a world-class community college system.  In Iowa, this will means unprecedented financial aid available for students pursuing a degree.

"This student aid reform plan will provide more opportunities for Iowans looking to attend college, and it represents a significant investment in our state's economic future," Braley said. "This bill makes federal grant money more accessible and reliable, and allows young people to graduate with less debt.  This is a huge step in the right direction to make higher education more affordable for Iowa families."

SAFRA will reform the system of federal student loans to save taxpayers $87 billion. It also changes the way the student loan system functions by creating new loans through the government's Direct Loan Program. SAFRA maintains competition in the private loan sector by allowing companies to compete for bids to service the loans.

The impact of SAFRA on Iowa is enormous.  The legislation will invest more than $726 million in Iowa over the next ten years to increase the maximum annual Pell Grant scholarship to $5,550 in 2010 and $6,900 by 2019.  $82.5 million will be invested for Pell Grants in Iowa's First Congressional District alone.  (The current Pell Grant maximum award for 2009 is $5,350).  Furthermore, under the bill, Iowa community colleges will receive over $31 million to renovate and construct new facilities.

More information on SAFRA can be found at http://edlabor.house.gov/blog/2009/07/student-aid-and-fiscal-respons.shtml A fact sheet on the bill's impact on Iowa is attached.

# # #

On Friday September 11, Jordan Catholic School students will be dressed in RED, WHITE AND BLUE to show their love of country and their appreciation of those who work to keep us free and make us PROUD! Some children may dress in the fatigues of their parents who have served our country.

Additionally, JCS students are collecting soap for "Operation Homecoming". This project is being spearheaded by JCS business office manager, Wendy Todd. Mrs. Todd's son, Lance Corporal Michael Todd, is a marine serving in Afghanistan. LCpl. Todd's battalion has not received supplies or mail for two months. The conditions are rough without showers, soap, etc. This gave Mrs. Todd and other mothers of marines within this battalion the idea to prepare "homecoming baskets" for the 600 single marines in this battalion. The students' donation will be added to the baskets which will be a surprise to the marines when they come home!