Friday, February 16, 2018

Illinois delegation tackles ambitious agenda
at NSBA Advocacy Institute

Illinois school board leaders meet with Congressman
Randy Hultgren in his Washington, D.C. office.
The largest-ever Illinois delegation undertook an ambitious agenda at the National School Boards Association’s 2018 Advocacy Institute, an annual event in Washington D.C. designed to help school leaders advocate with federal officials for students and communities and make an impact on education policymaking.

Attendees participated in workshops covering a wide range of educational topics, in preparation for the final day of the Institute. School board members and administrators met with representatives in the U.S. House and Senate on that final day, and “had a long and productive day lobbying on Capitol Hill,” according to IASB Director of Governmental Relations Susan Hilton.

“We had a terrific group of strong leaders from Illinois attend this years’ DC Advocacy Institute,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. “The trip to Capitol Hill was especially important as our members were able to discuss key issues critical to public education with members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.”

Illinois attendees met with Senators Tammy Duckworth and Richard Durbin, and U.S. Congressmen Brad Schneider, Randy Hultgren, Robin Kelly, Mike Bost, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Adam Kinzinger, and Darin LaHood.

Senator Duckworth meets with a large group of
Illinois school board members and leaders.
The Institute attendees focused this year on funding issues, including the importance of maintaining or increasing funding for Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Attendees also discussed school choice and the need to reauthorize IDEA and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE). Additionally, attendees stressed the importance of reinstating the net neutrality rules, which protect fair pricing and availability of educational technology.

The Illinois contingent urged members of Congress to ensure the flexibility promised in ESSA is realized, demonstrating funding impact in local terms, and expressing the importance of increased funding for mandated Special Education spending. Attendees received the latest information on ESSA implementation, and on student and staff First Amendment Rights, among the many issues they reviewed.

IASB officers are ready for the first
general session on Monday morning.
IASB President Joanne Osmond of the Lake Villa CCSD 41 Board of Education attended the Advocacy Institute, and noted the theme of funding for Medicaid, special education, IDEA, and the various Title I programs.

“The impact of funding, or not, affects all students in a positive, or negative, way. When federal funding is not provided as promised, funds to support regular education are depleted and schools are required to do more with less. To hear the passion behind the voices and stories from around Illinois was memorable,” Osmond said.

The annual Advocacy Institute assists participants with developing effective advocacy strategies to engage policymakers and champion the interests of local public schools. Programming includes interactive panel presentations, breakout sessions, nationally recognized speakers, and networking forums to share tips and best practices.

“United we have a strong voice,” Osmond said. “Those who were able to attend the Advocacy Institute represented their districts and Illinois very well. All school board members in the state should be reassured that our voices were clear and that our representation in DC listened to what we had to say. Senators and representatives took note of who was there and where the districts they represent are located. We make a difference.”

The Illinois delegation to the NSBA Advocacy Institute included the following individuals:

From the IASB Board of Directors: President Joanne Osmond, Vice President Thomas M. Neeley, and Immediate Past President Phil Pritzker.

Representing IASB Staff: Executive Director Roger Eddy, Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm, and Director of Governmental Relations Susan Hilton.

Representing local school districts: board member Scott Linn of Aptakisic-Tripp CCSD 102; Superintendent Daniel Hollowell and Assistant Principal Shannon Swilley of Bourbonnais SD 53; IASB Shawnee Division Director and board member Sheila Nelson and Superintendent Andrea Evers of Cairo SD 1; board member Tammy Jones and Superintendent Donna Simpson Leak of CCSD 168 (Sauk Village); board members Kim Adkins, Charles Givines, Faith E. Gunter, Larry Lawrence, Charles W. Lloyd, and Ernesto E. Mickens and Superintendent  Kevin J. Nohelty of Dolton SD 148; board members Pamela Eldridge, Darlene A. Gray Everett, Rayya A. Ghani, Bertha Jolly, Kim Y. Knight, and Wilbur Tillman o f Dolton SD 149; board members Bernice Brown, Debra Ellis, and Eric Perkins of Elem SD 159 (Matteson); board member Janet M. Rogers of Harvey SD 152; board member Alice LeVert of Lake Forest SD 67; Superintendent Michael V. Simeck of Lake Forest SD 67 and Lake Forest CHSD 115; board members Vanessa Hatcher, Rosalyn Hathorn, Kieta McCloskey, Valencia Ross, and Frank Tanniehill of Lincoln Elementary SD 156 (Calumet City); board member Elliot Johnson of Matteson Elementary SD 159; Superintendent Kurt A. Schneider of the  Northern Suburban Special Education District; board member Mable Chapman of West Harvey-Dixmoor SD 147; board members Joseph DeRosa, Terry Hall, Elizabeth Helgren, Carla Little, and Joyce Mason, and Assistant Superintendent Lori Casey of Woodland CCSD 50.