Thursday, March 2, 2017

School officials meet with legislators
on final day of Leadership Summit

Rep. Carol Sente meets with Wheeling CCSD 21
board members and administrators.

After absorbing nearly two days of information on current state education issues at the Alliance Leadership Summit, board members, school business officials, and administrators boarded school buses and headed to the Capitol to share their local perspective with state legislators.

“The Summit this year was designed and prepared to jump start attendees ability to advocate with very pointed information in a respectful, yet aggressive manner,” said IASB President and Wheeling CCSD 21 board member Phil Pritzker. “The various speakers provided historical frameworks and background to where and why we are where we are. They provided inspiration to advocate because if not us, who, and if not now, when?”

Valorie Moore and John Dixon
Brookwood SD 167 Board President John Dixon echoed Prizker’s remarks. “It really helped me get a better understanding of the legislative process, the give and take that is needed, and the speed at which things get done.”

Before meeting with members of the General Assembly, school leaders were briefed on effective advocacy strategies and messaging by Alliance staff. Among the techniques discussed were to make the conversations personal and relate how current and proposed education policy impacts their districts.

“It is imperative to be here,” stressed Brookwood Superintendent Valorie Moore. “Collectively our voices are powerful. We are all on the same page. We want all students to have the opportunity to succeed.”

Attendees were directed to be efficient and direct with their points of view. They were also
encouraged to discuss areas of collaboration where all sides can work together to ensure that education in Illinois is headed in the right direction.

School leaders were encouraged to focus attention on three points:

  • Passing a full state budget to provide schools with a level of future certainty.
  • Ensuring that the budget “grand compromise” is not a net loss for public school districts.
  • Illinois Vision 20/20 initiatives, including support for the Evidence-Based Funding Model, mandate relief, flexibility in teacher licensure, giving educators a seat on the Illinois State Board of Education, and expanding access to broadband for under-served districts.
Carbondale CHSD 1 and Gorville CUSD 1 meet with Rep. Terri Bryant
“We are facing more challenging times than ever before. With the budget at the state level and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) at the federal level, it is more important than ever that we [school leaders] stay connected,” emphasized Carbondale CHSD 165 Superintendent Steve Murphy.

“This is the best Summit we’ve ever had,” said Goreville CUSD 1 Superintendent Steve Webb, citing the significance of the governor and legislative leaders of the education reform committee as key participants at the event. “Advocating on behalf of our schools is one of the most important functions we do as educational leaders. We need to educate legislators about the school funding formula and show them what their vote means to educating our kids.”

Summit attendees were also advised to bring these types of advocacy efforts back to their local districts and encourage other area residents to get involved.

“The Alliance has given us tools to use that we can share back home and teach local stakeholders how they can participate in this process,” said Carla Little, Woodland CCSD 50 board member. “The bottom line is that this is a really great event.”

A reception Wednesday afternoon with state legislators and Leadership Summit attendees concluded the networking and advocacy efforts for the day.