All posts by Jake Krez

A writer/publicist/media hired hand from Chicago, Il who came up writing for the Chicago Sun Times where he helped break artists like Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Kids These Days and many more. Since then Jake has written for the likes of XXL, Complex, Noisey, New City, Billboard, DJBooth and many others while staying up to date on all things Chicago music and beyond.


Original Found Here (Daily Iowan)


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Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said he’s determined to retain funding for federal Pell Grants, which have come under question in recent weeks as budget concerns swept across Congress.

Loebsack spoke about higher education in Coralville on Monday with consultants at the headquarters of Noel-Levitz, 2350 Oakdale Blvd.,an organization, which works with colleges and universities across the country on retention issues.

Loebsack told the small group he depended on Pell Grants throughout his college career.

“My mom was a single parent,” he said. “I worked hard for my education, but I also had a lot of help with financial aid. I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am without it.”

Loebsack said he and his wife are also close to the issue. The congressman taught at Cornell College for 24 years, and his wife taught for nearly 30 years.

The discussion came soon after a budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would cut individual Pell Grants by up to $850.

The Pell Grant provided roughly 20 percent of UI undergraduates more than $15.3 million this academic year.

As a member of the Education and Work Force Committee, Loebsack has expressed his disappointment in Ryan’s proposed cuts.

“I give Paul Ryan credit for thinking long-term on the budget,” Loebsack said. “That said, I think he’s thinking incorrectly.”

Despite Loebsack’s criticism, at least one local Republican official said Ryan’s budget is a step in the right direction.

Bob Anderson, the head of the Johnson County Republican Central Committee, said Ryan’s plan is the start of a “long road to fiscal sanity.”

“There might be an item or two in the mix [of Ryan’s budget] that can be debated or analyzed, but the overall thrust of what he’s done is to take a courageous step toward putting the country back on a sustainable course for future generations,” Anderson said.

But UI political-science Associate Professor Cary Covington acknowledged the importance of Pell Grants.

“Speaking strictly as a parent and someone interested in making college as accessible financially as possible, cuts in Pell Grants are troubling,” he said.

During his discussion, Loebsack addressed the growing disconnect between parties in Washington, playing down the effect it has had on policy.

“I think that right now there is a singular focus on fiscal discipline,” he said. “People are not thinking enough about the human consequences of the budget decisions that get made. That is why it is important to put a human face on it whenever we can.”

While grants and funding were a couple of main focuses during the event, Loebsack talked about his goals for improving life for the middle class.

“You can’t win the future if you cut back on education,” he said. “Ultimately, there are people who cannot [pay for college] on their own, they just can’t do it, and they need some help.”


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Donning an original Japanese kimono, University of Iowa senior Danielle Haugland helped show groups of children how to fold origami cranes.

According to a Japanese myth, folding 1,000 cranes will grant the wish of the folder.

And Sunday at the UI Field House, students from the Japanese Cultural Association and Japanese Students and Scholars Club attempted to do that amid loud music and a thick aroma of ethnic food.

The goal was to contribute to a nationwide initiative to send 1 million cranes to Japan — organizers hope 1,000 universities will fold 1,000 cranes each.

“My father is in Sendai,” said UI postdoctoral research scholar Atsushi Yahashiri. “They were not directly affected, but I still wanted to help.”

Hundreds attended the 22nd-annual Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival put on by a committee appointed by the University of Iowa Diversity Office.

The event has become the second largest non-athletics event sponsored by the university and features cultural dance, sports demonstrations, live music, and diverse food booths.
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And this year, groups used it as an opportunity to raise money, not only for their own clubs but also to donate to recovery efforts in Japan. They aimed to raise $10,000 over time, with part of that money coming from finding a sponsor for each string of cranes.

Members also collected money on the Pedestrian Mall and sold wristbands at West High, Yahashiri said.

The money raised by the two groups will go toward the American Red Cross efforts for relief response to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that rocked the island nation last month.

Perched on the second-floor track of the Field House overlooking a sea of dancers and food vendors, UI junior Romelle Morris tended to chimichangas and croissants under a banner for the Multi-Cultural Business Student Association in his own fundraising endeavor.

“We’re raising money for our club to finance events later in the year,” he said.

The aim of the daylong festival was to promote diversity and a sense of understanding across cultural borders.

“There’s so much work around diversity, it’s great to do something that is centered on fun,” UI Chief Diversity Officer Georgina Dodge said. “This festival provides that opportunity to see the way others live.”

Festival-goers dressed up in traditional outfits demonstrating their individual cultures. A woman dressed in a traditional 18th-century English high-necked gown handed out fliers on the crowded track. Others wore clothes ranging from African tunics to clinking Indian anklets.

“We wanted to show a lot of different people,” said Kim Carter, a member of the Festival Planning Committee. “Through their performances and their arts, there is a lot to learn about each other.”

The festival, which began in 1990 as a way to bring together those from different backgrounds, featured more than 100 diverse cultures that came together to share customs, traditions, and world perspectives.

“The festival is an opportunity to learn from each other,” Dodge said. “It’s all about starting a dialogue, and once we start talking, we can start bridging some of our differences.”


Original Found Here (Daily Iowan)

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Margaret Crocco calls herself a “great lover of America.”

And she’s seen a lot of it.

Born in the Midwest, Crocco eventually moved to the East Coast, and she will now return to the Heartland to begin her tenure as the 15th dean of the University of Iowa College of Education.

UI interim Provost P. Barry Butler announced Crocco as the successor to Dean Sandra Damico on Thursday.

Crocco first visited Iowa City in March 2010, when she traveled from New York to conduct a workshop on democratic dialogue and civic engagement at the UI.

“I, of course, had known about the university for years but had never visited,” she said. “The university, Iowa City, the College of Education, the faculty I met there were all very impressive.”

Crocco was one of 100 candidates who applied for the position and one of four brought to campus. She currently serves as professor and head of the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“I thought it might be a good fit,” Crocco said. “When I came to campus in February [as a finalist], I was struck by all the great assets that the College of Education has.”

While the move from the Big Apple to Iowa may seem like a large one for some, this will be like a homecoming for the Elgin, Ill., native. She will take on the new position July 1.

“Professor Crocco will bring a vast amount of expertise, energy, and enthusiasm for the field of education to the position of dean, especially given her outstanding track record and proven leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University,” said UI President Sally Mason in a release.

The future dean said she is prepared to blend the old and new into a philosophy that will move the education school forward.

“I want to build on the progress that [Damico] has made with some of her new initiatives,” Crocco said. “I’m hoping that I will be able to move progress in the areas of technology forward.”

Stressing that technology in the classroom will play an crucial role, Crocco will try to further technology plans set in place by Damico.

“They’re introducing us to a lot of new technology, such as smart boards, which are slowly replacing black and white boards,” said UI junior Jenna Aude. “It’s really vital for an education major to have technology in the classroom.”

The advancements in teaching technology use to education students puts the school, ranked 21st among U.S. public universities, in the upper echelon of the field.

“We will be ahead of students from around the state,” Aude said

The announcement was met with optimism by the education faculty. That Crocco plans to change the current route of the school will make the transition an easy one.

“She has great credentials, and we are very excited to have her,” said Associate Professor Leslie Schrier said. “There is great optimism for the change.”


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Khalid Khalid smiled and laughed as he tossed a battered football to a friend.

The 12-year-old was surrounded by dozens of jovial elementary school kids Wednesday at the Pheasant Ridge Neighborhood Center, 2651 Roberts Road.

“This place is amazing; it has had a huge impact on my life,” said Khalid, who comes to the center every day after school to work on homework and unwind.

The center, which has provided a place for children and teens to spend time after school, has also offered a Good Neighbors summer camp for local children for the past 10 years.

However, budget shortfalls across the state have left the center with a $30,000 deficit for this summer’s camp.

“We have a diverse funding base,” Neighborhood Center Program Director Sue Freeman said. “That helps in lean times, and we are in some lean times.”

The deficit stems from funding cuts to the Johnson County Decategorization Board for the next fiscal year, starting in July. The board is responsible for a large chunk of the summer camp’s ability to subsidize its fees.

According to a press release, the summer camp budget cuts will eliminate funding for more than 60 elementary-age children living in Pheasant Ridge, the Broadway Neighborhood, and Forest View Mobile Home Park.

Traditionally, the camp has been subsidized for low-income families as a way to give kids something to do when school is out. The funding pinch has caused the center look to the community for help. Continue reading NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER WANTS MORE SUMMER-CAMP FUNDING

Writers’ Workshop to celebrate 75 years with visiting authors

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Jane Smiley sat in class in the English and Philosophy Building years ago, striving to learn from the accomplished authors leading her classes at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

“When teachers come, usually they are writers who made a name for themselves, so they have very different styles, and they didn’t really have a theory about teaching,” Smiley said.

Now, Smiley, who received an M.F.A. in 1976 from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, holds a Pulitzer Prize — one of 17 Pulitzer Prize winners to graduate from the program.

And she will be one of 50 writers — Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright scholars, and U.S. poet laureates among them — to return to Iowa City June 9 to celebrate the Workshop’s 75th anniversary.

Organizers have been planning the event for a year, and the four-day reunion will include live music, dancing, readings, and even a Sunday morning softball game — “Poets versus Fiction Writers.” PBS’ “Newshour” aired a special on the Workshop’s anniversary on April 7. Continue reading Writers’ Workshop to celebrate 75 years with visiting authors