CollinsFloorShot4Library to use funds for Spanish language books and resources

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) congratulated the Hodgkins Public Library on winning a $5,000 grant this week. “Back to Books” grants, awarded by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, allow libraries to purchase new materials for patrons and are paid for with a combination of federal and state library funds.

“The Hodgkins Public Library put together an impressive application for its Back to Books grant, and I’m excited about the new opportunities these funds will provide for learners of all ages, including Spanish speakers,” Collins said. “Libraries are central to our communities, offering not only great books but links to social services and other local resources.”

In Hodgkins, librarians discovered a troubling disparity: Latinos made up 47 percent of the town’s population, but only 3 percent of the public library’s printed materials were in Spanish.

“Our collection wasn’t reflecting the recent increase in our Latino population,” Hodgkins Public Library director Lisa Waskin said. “We will be able to use the grant money to purchase Spanish language and bilingual materials, as well as resources for native English speakers who want to learn Spanish.”

Secretary White announced that more than $1 million in Back to Books grants have been awarded to more than 200 libraries statewide for fiction and non-fiction books, DVDs and educational materials.

CollinsFloorShot3Colleges may not ask for Facebook passwords, access accounts without cause

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) is sponsoring a measure to protect the privacy of students who use social media such as Twitter and Facebook. House Bill 64, approved today by the Senate Education Committee, prohibits colleges and universities from requesting students’ social networking passwords or requiring students to give their schools access to their accounts.

“Students, particularly college students who are legally adults, reasonably expect schools to respect their privacy,” Collins said. “Last year I co-sponsored a law preventing employers from asking employees or prospective hires for their passwords; there’s no reason not to extend the same protection to our students.”

Colleges and universities would still be able to adopt and enforce rules governing the use of social media on computers and Internet connections provided by the school. If they suspect a social media account contains evidence that a school rule has been violated, they may require a student to furnish a password to the account. The measure also affirms that schools and universities may view any information a student makes public on a site such as Facebook. Elementary, middle and high schools may demand access or a password if they have reason to believe a social networking account contains evidence of wrongdoing, but they must notify students and parents of this policy.

HB 64 passed the House in March by a vote of 60 to 54. If approved by the Senate, it will go to the governor for his signature.

001collinsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins issued the following statement on legislation she co-sponsored to prevent Chicago Public Schools (CPS) from closing any school facilities until the end of the 2014-15 school year:

School closures destabilize children, families and communities. They should not be undertaken lightly. I continue to have deep concerns about closing a large number of schools and uprooting their students - particularly children with special needs, children experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable young people - without adequate time to prepare for safe and supportive transitions.

I am not convinced that schools labeled as “failing” have been offered the resources that could put them back on track or that consistent, well-publicized, district-wide criteria are being used to identify schools for closure. A moratorium on school actions will allow CPS to clarify these criteria and identify needs in each underperforming school. It will also allow CPS leadership to pay down the trust deficit that hinders its ability to focus on what should be its highest priority: educating every child. I look forward to seeing the master facilities plan CPS will present this year, and I urge a renewed commitment to community involvement, school-level improvement and thoughtful, measured action.

The moratorium legislation, Senate Bill 1571, received preliminary approval from the Senate Education Committee yesterday.

CollinsFloorShot230-day grace periods will remain in effect for the next three years

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) secured unanimous Senate passage Wednesday of a measure that postpones the repeal of legal protections for homeowners seeking counseling to avoid foreclosure. The “30-30-30” grace period law was set to expire this year but would remain on the books for another three years if Collins’ legislation is successful.

“Foreclosure prevention counseling has helped thousands of Illinois homeowners stay in their homes,” Collins said. “Because in many parts of our state the housing market is still in crisis, we must continue to give homeowners who have missed payments the breathing room they need to seek professional assistance.”

Since 2009, more than 48,000 homeowners have received free counseling through the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network, and the Illinois Hardest Hit program has helped more than 6,500 people make their mortgage payments.

“Foreclosure counseling is a proven tool in the effort to stabilize neighborhoods and give homeowners a chance to make it through tough times,” Collins said. “Approved counselors can help homeowners evaluate their finances, take control of their spending, negotiate with their lenders and ultimately start making manageable payments and keep their homes.”

The “30-30-30” law requires lenders to wait 30 days after the due date of a missed payment, send a notice to the borrower, give the homeowner 30 more days to seek counseling and then give the homeowner and counselor 30 days to offer the lender a workout plan. The bank may file for foreclosure only if the homeowner does not obtain counseling services within 30 days of the initial notice, if the homeowner and counselor do not present an acceptable plan within 30 days or if the borrower fails to comply with the terms of the workout plan.

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