CHICAGO – In moving forward with his plan to shift responsibility for overseeing Illinois’ schools to a new Department of Education, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today appointed a 39-member taskforce of school administrators to help guide the process of structuring the new agency and developing policies for improving service to local schools.
“We’ve heard the cry for more accountability in our education system, and now we’re making critical changes that will help us better serve the needs of students, parents, teachers and administrators. The input of this distinguished panel of experienced school managers will be critical in helping us address the real problems and obstacles that are hampering education in Illinois,” Blagojevich said in introducing the task force.
The Governor named former State Superintendent of Schools Michael J. Bakalis as the chairman of the Education Accountability Taskforce. Dr. Bakalis taught at the junior and senior high school levels, and was a professor at Northern Illinois University before joining the school’s administration. He is currently on faculty at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Dr. Bakalis was the last person elected to the schools’ highest post and helped push for a change in the early 1970’s that established the Illinois State Board of Education with an appointed superintendent. He has joined Blagojevich in calling for reform.
“Back in 1970, I thought it was in the best interest of the state to have an independent board of education. But over the years, that independence has allowed the board to grow into a sizable bureaucracy that answers to no one,” Bakalis explained. “With something as critical as education – an issue that directly impacts our state’s social and economic success – it’s imperative that we establish a clear line of responsibility.”
Blagojevich tapped several other prominent school administrators to serve on the taskforce. Among them are: Glenn “Max” McGee, another former State Superintendent of Schools and current Superintendent of Wilmette School District 39; Leonard Dominguez, former Deputy Mayor for Education in Chicago and current chief officer of Pilsen Community Cluster, a pilot collaboration between twelve schools and several community groups in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood; James Rosberg, Superintendent of Belleville School District #118, and the Illinois Association of School Administrators’ 2004 Superintendent of the Year; and Bruce Dennison, Superintendent of the Bureau-Henry-Stark County Regional Office of Education and president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.
During his State of the State address in January, Blagojevich proposed moving responsibilities from the State Board of Education to a new Department of Education that would be directly accountable to the Governor. His plan comes in response to growing frustration over the bureaucratic burden placed on local school districts and educators, and the lack of ideas for reform coming out of the state’s current education authority.
According to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, Illinois ranks 16th in the nation for total amount spent per child on education, but only 40th in total education spending that is used for classroom instruction.
The task force announced today will work with the Governor’s office throughout the upcoming year to develop specific proposals for helping Illinois improve its ratio of total education funds spent on instruction, and assist in designing a Department of Education that responds to the needs of local school districts in their effort to educate students.
The group will be encouraged to develop new ideas for ways in which the new Department of Education can accomplish the following:
- Help reduce non-instruction related costs and focus more resources directly to education.
- Improve communication and responsiveness between a Department of Education and local school districts.
- Reduce existing mandates, bureaucracy, and rules that tie the hands of school districts.
The complete Education Accountability Taskforce membership list follows:
Dr. Michael Bakalis
Dr. Carlos Azcoitia, Chicago Public Schools, Spry Elementary
Armando Almendarez, Dep. Chief Education Officer at Chicago Public Schools
Dr. Lawrence Baskin, Supt. of Glen Ellyn Community Consolidated School District #89
Dr. David Behlow, Supt. of Oswego Community Unit S.D. #308
Dr. Richard Berg, Supt. of Mattoon Community Unit School District #2
David Bonnette, Supt. of Riverside School District #96
Dr. Ellen Bueschel, Interim Supt. of Rockford School District #205
Brent Clark, Supt. of Belleville Township High School District #201
Georgia Costello, St. Claire County Regional Office of Education
P.E. Cross, Hamilton-Jefferson County Regional Office of Education
Arthur Culver, Supt. of Champaign Unit #4 School District
Dr. Bruce Dennison, Bureau-Henry-Stark County Regional Office of Education
Leonard Dominguez, Former Chicago Dep. Mayor for Education and current Chief Officer of the Pilsen Community Cluster
Ralph Grimm, Supt. of Canton Union School District #66
Dr. Kenneth Hendriksen, Supt. of Mt. Zion Community Unit School District #3
Dr. Ed Hightower, Supt. of Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7
Kyle Hlafka, Supt. for Staunton Community Unit School District #6
Dr. James Hudgens, Supt. for Marion Community Unit School District #2
Dr. Robert Ingraffia, Supt. for Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education
Dr. Frances Karanovich, Supt. of Macomb Unit School District #185
Dr. Elizabeth Lewin, Supt. of Carbondale Elementary School District #95
Dr. Ralph Marshall, Supt. of Hononegah Community High School District #207
Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall, President of the Illinois Math and Science Academy
Dr. Glenn “Max” McGee, Retired State Supt. of Schools and current Supt. of Wilmette School District 39
Dr. Robert McKanna, Supt. of Community Consolidated School District #15 (Palatine)
Dr. Elmer McPherson, Supt. of Decatur School District #61
Dr. Connie Neale, Supt. of Elgin School District U-46
Dr. Robert Nielsen, Supt. of Bloomington School District #87
Marian Nipper, Supt. of Ewing-Northern Community Consolidated School District #115
Dr. James Rosborg, Supt. of Belleville School District #118
Dr. Darlene Ruscitti, Supt. of DuPage County Regional Office of Education
Dr. Thomas Ryan, Supt. of Community Consolidated School District #168 (Sauk Village)
Delbert Scranton, Former Supt. and current Business Manager for Quincy Public School District #172
Dr. Barbara Suelter, Supt. of United Township High School District #30 (East Moline)
Dr. Randolph Tinder, Supt. of Forest Park School District #91
Dr. Joe Wojtena, Principal of Libertyville High School
Dr. B.J. Wolf, Supt. for Rock Falls Township High School District #301
Ellen Wrzeski, Supt. of Woodstock Community Unit School District #200