Monday, December 27, 2010

School clubs - a safe place to belong

The value of middle and high school children being able to participate in clubs and extra curriculars should not be taken for granted. As a student, the clubs I participated in were: gymnastics, tumbling, dance, cheerleading, pompoms, art, basketball, track, and volleyball. As a result, the years of attentive and continuous coaching through my formative years, have helped me become the disciplined individual I am today.

A high school student’s perspective on the value of clubs…
People, especially around adolescence, feel a strong sense of loneliness. When you're lonely, it's difficult for hope to grow. Some adolescents often believe that there is no reason to really try at anything because the end doesn't vary, regardless of how you got there.

They don't seem to realize that the road to the end is the best part, simply because they have no one close to point it out.

In order to increase the rate of high school graduates, schools should promotes clubs and other school communities. A byproduct of promoting school communities is the formation of bonds. Adolescents spend time with people who they share the same qualities, values, strengths, and weaknesses. People see how many people are like them. They gain friendship and companionship. These friends will provide an unspoken encouragement for success and ambition. They might even inspire competition, the drive for improvement. They will do many things for students, and won't stop at encouraging students, but will continue on to help students realize that the journey is meant to be enjoyed.

The best part about this plan is that it is budget friendly. Clubs can hold their own fundraisers if the need of funds should ever arise. Students can manage themselves; responsibility is another welcome side effect. The members of the club will learn to depend on others; a skill valuable if they should ever find themselves in a position where interactions are involved.

We're all lonely people. It'll do us all a great deal if we knew that sometimes life isn't as lonely as we make it out to be. Humans are social creatures. Would it be so wrong for me to infer that people would do much better if there's someone doing it with them, no matter what they want to accomplish? Source

Related: After school clubs for middle schoolers

Lady T - the Ivory Queen of Soul has passed

Teena Marie always wild is finally peaceful. Her music holds wonderful memories for me that I share with my children whenever I hear it. I have every album that I still cherish to this day. She is on my IPod; her lyricism is a part of my psyche. Rest in peace Lady T.

Marie Christine Brockert "Teena Marie", who made history as Motown's first white act but developed a lasting legacy with her silky soul pipes and with hits like "Lovergirl," ''Square Biz," and "Fire and Desire" with mentor Rick James, has died. She was 54.

Teena Marie, known as the "Ivory Queen of Soul," was certainly not the first white act to sing soul music, but she was arguably among the most gifted and respected, and was thoroughly embraced by the black audience.

She was first signed to the legendary Motown label back in 1979 at age 19, working with James, with whom she would have long, turbulent but musically magical relationship.

The cover of her album, "Wild and Peaceful," did not feature her image, with Motown apparently fearing backlash by audiences if they found out the songstress with the dynamic voice was white.

But Marie notched her first hit, "I'm A Sucker for Your Love," and was on her way to becoming one of R&B's most revered queens. During her tenure with Motown, the singer-songwriter and musician produced passionate love songs and funk jam songs like "Need Your Lovin'," ''Behind the Groove" and "Ooh La La La."

Marie had a daughter and had toured in recent years after overcoming an addiction to prescription drugs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SOS Peoria: Three (3) homicides in last nine (9) days

First in Print - Deadly December 2010

Today, citizens of Peoria are left to put together for themselves that with the homicide of December 21st, the City of Peoria has had four (4) homicides in little over one (1) month; and three (3) homicides within the last nine (9) days.

Victim of Tuesday beating is the city's 21st homicide - Dec 22, 2010
Peoria police are investigating the city’s 21st homicide of the year after the victim of a beating was pronounced brain dead Tuesday, December 21, 2010.

Todd Gunter, 29, of 1829 S. Stanley St. is being maintained on life support at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center pending preparation for organ donation. He was brought to the hospital after an incident at 12:21 p.m. Monday at Griswold Liquors, 1814 S. Griswold St. He was pronounced brain dead at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Police were flagged down outside the liquor store Monday after Gunter was found lying unresponsive on the ground. He may have been struck in the head with a piece of asphalt. An autopsy will be performed to determine an official cause of death following organ donation, according to Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll. Source

North Peoria Shooting Leaves One Man Dead - Wed, Dec 15, 2010
A lunch-hour shooting in North Peoria claims the life of a Peoria man. Police say he was shot in the head while driving through a neighborhood.

Peoria man dies after being shot in the chest - Sun, Dec 12, 2010
A Peoria man was fatally shot in the 1500 block of South Stanley Street about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

AND there was a homicide in November...

Man shot, killed in gas station fight - Nov 11, 2010
A man released from prison almost a year ago allegedly shot and killed a Peoria man during a Tuesday night fight at a Circle K gas station.

AND... There are still two (2) babies in our city recovering from bullet wounds. On October 14th, an early morning shooting resulted in the injury of a 4-year-old as someone fired shots into a home; on Dec 11th, a 3-year-old child was shot in the head on North North Street.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

School district eliminates honors English course

As we have heard, all District 150 programs are under review for the 2011-2012 school year. From what I understand, District 150's review is in an effort to open all programs up to more students. As a result, many in the Peoria community are highly concerned about the disposition (integrity) of honors courses.

As expected, dismantling institutionalized tracking comes with some push back to maintain the stauts quo. Despite opposition from hundreds of parents, the Evanston Township School Board is not deterred and is moving forward with their "detracking plan".
Evanston Township High School District 202 eliminates honors English course Board OKs 'detracking' plan after weeks of debate on academics, race, politics
After weeks of debate that touched on academics, race and politics, Evanston Township High School District 202 approved a dramatic plan Monday night that eliminates an honors English course for the highest-achieving incoming freshmen — usually white students.

The unanimous school board vote paves the way for freshmen of all races, socioeconomic and achievement backgrounds next fall to take the same freshman humanities course next fall. Proponents of the move see it as a way to diversify advanced courses and circumvent the traditional process of tracking students into courses by test scores that often places minorities in lower-level classes.

The board approved the plan despite opposition from hundreds of parents who signed a petition urging officials to at least delay the proposal while it can be studied further.

Among other concerns, parents felt top-performing students could be bored or held back in classes that cater to the abilities of a wide range of students. The class scheduled for elimination is designed for freshmen who outscore about 95 percent of peers nationally on eighth-grade tests.

Now, those students will be melded with all incoming freshmen able to read at the ninth-grade level, which the high school defines as scoring at or about the 40th percentile on the achievement test given to eighth-graders. All freshmen in the class will have the opportunity to earn honors credit, depending on their grades on assignments.

A small number of students below the 40th percentile will be in a different class, to get more help. Read entire article here.

Related article: Schools head denounces Rockford racism - Superintendent LaVonne Sheffield cited the community's racial divide as an obstacle to providing excellent public education for all children.

Monday, December 13, 2010

At what point is it too late to teach parenting skills?

In Los Angeles County parents are being forced into parenting classes if their child is convicted of gang crime. Is it too late to teach parenting skills if the child is already in a gang?

Parents of gang members being sent to parenting class

Moms and dads in Los Angeles County are being sent to mandatory parenting classes after their children are convicted of gang crime.

The classes will eventually put in place across California under a new state law that came into effect this year.

Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, the lawmaker behind the Parent Accountability Act, says it is the first state law to give judges the power to order parents of gang members to school, though other court-mandated classes exist at the local level.

The law went into effect in January but budget cuts in Sacramento meant implementation of the classes was delayed and only in the past month or so have they been rolled out on a limited basis in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Read entire article here

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another child hit by gunfire, as shooting up the streets of Peoria regardless of innocent people being in the vicinity continues

Shooting up the streets of Peoria regardless of innocents being in the vicinity continues. For the second time in the last two months another child has been hit by gunfire. You will recall that on October 14, 2010
, an early morning shooting resulted in the injury of a 4-year-old as someone fired shots into a home on West Proctor Street around 4:30 in the morning.

I find it amazing how babies are the victims of shootings in Peoria and there is no sense of outrage from the community.

Another child hit by gunfire
Sat, Dec 11
A 3-year-old child was shot in the head Friday night on North North Street.

In what Peoria police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said “was probably a drive-by,” a child at 1311 N. North St. suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

The house was fired upon numerous times and a car parked on the street outside of it also was hit. A neighbor who would not give his name said it sounded like a machine gun was going off because of the number of shots fired. Source

Peoria man will face charges in shooting
Sat, Dec 11
PEORIA - A Central Peoria man was ordered held on $200,000 bond for allegedly shooting someone in the buttocks early Friday. Source

Man shot in the buttocks during robbery attempt
Sat, Dec 11
A man was shot in the buttocks after a gunman attempted to rob him Thursday night.

Two survive separate, unrelated shootings
Mon, Dec 06, 2010
Two men survived being shot during separate and apparently unrelated incidents Sunday night. Source

Shots fired during South Peoria liquor store robbery
Tues, Nov 30, 2010
Three men robbed a South Peoria liquor store after firing shots into rows of bottles behind the cash register Monday evening. Source

Citizens won't be charged for running through the streets firing a weapon
Fri, Nov 26, 2010
Lyons sees both sides. "I won't be seeking criminal consequences for defensive gunfire erupting from this event." Source

The glamorization of teen pregnancy

Teen births are on the rise in Peoria County, especially in the black community. A lot of people are spending their time trying to figure out what the increase is attributable to and how to get a handle on it. Some are pointing to what is being called the glamorization of teen pregnancy by such programs as MTV's "Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant".

MTV is casting again for our thought-provoking series: "16 and Pregnant" which airs on Thursdays at 10pm. This documentary series focuses on young women during their pregnancy. We realize that this is a sensitive subject that many of our young women are experiencing, so our goal is to show what pregnant women, from varying backgrounds, are experiencing in their everyday lives.

From morning sickness to mood swings, and to even the day of the baby's arrival, we would like you to let us document this exciting, life changing event. This show will allow young women to share their story in their own voice.

The Teen Mom stars earn $60,000 to $65,000 per season," a series insider tells Life & Style. It's enough to provide on-again, off-again couple Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley with comfortable lives--but neither one seems to be a good saver. "Gary says he's broke," Gary's best friend, Jordan Sanchez, tells Life & Style. "The money is the only reason he's willing to do the show. You can't walk away from money like that."

It's true--in fact, Jordan tells Life & Style that Amber and Gary have already started filming the next season of Teen Mom in Tennessee. Lately, they've talked about moving to Florida, where Amber's uncle owns a business.

Now that ‘Teen Mom’ cast members like Amber Portwood are in their twenties, MTV is looking for a new crop of teenage girls to keep its monster hits ‘Teen Mom’ and ’16 and Pregnant’ alive, and [surprise!] industry insiders tell me young ladies are so eager to be on reality TV that they are actually getting pregnant just to score an audition. OK, not much of a surprise. Simply take a spin around the various Internet forums filled with young girls inquiring about what’s required to score a role.

“This is yet another example of the desperation of fame,” Matt Titus, a relationship expert from, tells me. “The sad state of reality television has created a lowbrow vehicle for untainted train wreck personalities to display their private lives.”

Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, author of ‘Kosher Sex,’ agrees. “This is out of control celebrity culture. Reality TV first began by exploiting people’s problems, assuming they would do anything for fame. The idea of teenage girls getting pregnant to be on television shows that reality TV is going a step beyond exploiting problems. It is now creating the problems.”

Anyone who has had a child knows that it is the most serious commitment a person can make. When young girls begin making this ultimate decision in order find fame, it “shows the moral rot in American society.”

“These girls are ignoring the fact that this decision must be followed by a lifetime of responsibility,” he says.Source

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pray with me...

Dear God: Please please promise that these people will not move to Peoria to join their other trouble making friends in shooting up our City streets and taking advantage of Peoria's young women, who are so desperate to find men. Amen.

Chicago Closes Down Infamous Cabrini-Green Housing Complex

CHICAGO — To some, Cabrini-Green’s infamous high-rises were a symbol of urban blight – towering testaments to the failure of Chicago public housing to safely give shelter to the poorest of the poor. But to the last residents being rousted from the last building, Cabrini-Green was simply home.

The closure of Cabrini’s high-rises this week marks the end of an ugly era in public housing. The 70-acre development was initially hailed as a salvation for the city’s poor that was emulated nationwide. But it quickly decayed into a virtual war-zone, the kind of place where little boys were gunned down on their way to school and little girls were sexually assaulted and left for dead in stairwells.

The Cabrini-Green development began on Chicago’s North Side in 1942 with row houses named for St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Roman Catholic patron saint of immigrants. A few years later, high-rises and mid-rises were added. Eventually Cabrini housed as many as 13,000 people.

The complex drew nationwide attention in 1981, after a gang war killed 11 residents in three months. Then-Mayor Jane Byrne and her husband moved into a Cabrini apartment for three weeks to publicize her efforts to clean up the area.

Remaining residents were being moved out this week, with the last high-rise slated for demolition in January or February. The Chicago Housing Authority originally gave them until January to move, but the date was shifted back as families moved and the building dropped below what officials consider to be a safe occupancy level.

The housing agency said in a statement late Tuesday that it was “continuing to work with the remaining families” at the last building, including those who have resisted the move.

Former Cabrini residents also have been offered vouchers for private apartments. And housing officials said they would be able to return to the Cabrini area once the new buildings are done.