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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich establishes Illinois Parent Leadership Council
New Council will investigate methods for involving parents in their children’s education

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed an executive order creating the Illinois Parent Leadership Council to advise the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on encouraging parental involvement in children’s education. Research shows that children with involved parents have higher rates of success in many aspects of their education including higher test scores and grades, better attendance, improved social skills, and elevated rates of graduation. As part of the Governor’s 2006 education plan, the Parent Leadership Council is an intricate part of an overall strategy to continue reforming and improving schools.
 
“Kids are far more likely to thrive when their parents are interested and involved in their education,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “So it’s imperative for us to look for the best ways to get parents on board and fully informed about how their children are doing in school and how they can support their children’s learning. The Illinois Parent Leadership Council will fill the gap between teachers, the state, and parents, making sure all parties are on the same page.”
 
Earlier this week, the Appleseed Foundation published a report that found a continuing lack of parental engagement.  The study found that schools and districts do not prioritize parental involvement and that it is important for schools and parents to communicate on issues affecting student achievement.
 
“Parents have a very important part to play in supporting teaching and learning.  When parents are involved it builds a strong foundation of support for education,” said Jesse Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education.  “By getting parents, students and educators working together we can surround our kids with a positive learning environment focused on long-term success.”
 
“As an educator I have seen first-hand what a positive difference parental involvement can make,” said Randy Dunn, State Superintendent of Education. “This council will look at the best ways to get teachers and parents working together on a common goal of helping kids learn.”
 
In addition to leading Illinois parents, the Council will determine the best practices for parent involvement and advise ISBE on resources and materials needed to implement them statewide. The Council will also submit an annual report to the Office of the Governor including their findings and recommendations.
 
Earlier this year the Governor signed Senate Bill 10 (Public Act 94-0507), sponsored by Senator Miguel del Valle, and created the Parental Participation Pilot Project and Project Fund.  The current fiscal year budget includes a $100,000 appropriation for ISBE to offer grants to schools for their efforts to improve parental participation. 
 
Building on the work of the previous four budgets and legislative sessions, which saw more than $3.8 billion in new funds invested in Illinois schools, the creation of universal preschool in Illinois, and raising graduation standards to require students to take more reading, writing, math and science, Governor Rod Blagojevich’s 2006 education plan includes the follow initiatives:
 
·                   Implementing full day kindergarten and universal preschool;
·                   Funding new school construction;
·                   Helping school districts regularly replace outdated textbooks;
·                   Extending the school year for underachieving schools;
·                   Funding after-school tutoring for students that need extra help;
·                   Helping schools afford special education teachers;
·                   Encouraging school district consolidation;
·                   Offering mentoring programs for principals and superintendents;
·                   Helping schools afford new technology;
·                   Improving school libraries;
·                   Updating Career and Technical Education curriculums; and
·                   Reducing school district administrative costs.
 
The appointees to the Parent Leadership Council are as follows:
 
Pricilla Cuba, Gages Lake, Advisory Board Member, Illinois Federation of Families and the Latino Family Institute of Chicago
 
Brad Hemingway, Olympia Fields, Member, District 162 parent organization and South Cook County Board for Junior Achievement
 
Natividad Hernandez, Chicago, Member, ISBE Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education and founding member of the Chicago Multilingual Parent Council
 
Theria Jackson, Centreville, Member, Kids Hope United Board of Directors, Retired Librarian and Teacher
 
Rhonda Jenkins, Millstadt, Member, Millstadt Consolidated School Board of Education and Parent Representative to the St. Clair County ROE’s Advisory Board
 
Janet Lochridge, Oak Park, Guidance Counselor, Morton West High School
 
Patrick McGuire, Joliet, Member, Joliet Township High School District 204 Board of Education
 
Beverly Neisler, Pawnee, Vice-President for Institutional Advancement for Sacred Heart-Griffin High School and Past President of the Pawnee Community Education Foundation Board of Directors
 
Doris Odem, Chicago, Coordinator of the Urban Leadership Center, University of Illinois – Extension Office in Cook County
 
Minerva Perez-Materko, Carpentersville, Bilingual Facilitator and Title III Coordinator for Community Unit School District 300
 
Barb Quinn, Elk Grove Village, President, Illinois PTA
 
Gayle Shepherd, Greenup, Director of the Reading Center at Eastern Illinois University
 
Kelly Stewart, Benton, Superintendent, Benton Consolidated High School District #103
 
Sheila Stocks-Smith, Springfield, Director of the Office of Education Liaison, City of Springfield
 
Suzanne Woods, Chesterfield, Adjunct Professor, University of Illinois-Springfield and member of the Illinois State Advisory Council on the Education of Children with Disabilities


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