School Leaders Convene, Meet with Lawmakers

February 20, 2015


SPRINGFIELD – More than 600 school board members, school superintendents, principals, school business officials, and other education leaders from across the state attended the first-ever Alliance Leadership Summit, held Feb. 17-18, in Springfield.

The two-day event, held at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, was jointly sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Association of School Business Officials, and the Illinois Principals Association.

As the primary school management organizations in the state, their goal for the Summit was to bring their individual members together as a team to hear from guest speakers and panelists on timely public policy issues. More importantly, the Summit also helped prepare participants on how to advocate effectively on the issues affecting public schools.

Day one included presentations by Joseph Scherer, executive director of the Superintendents’ National Dialogue, Elizabeth Purvis, education liaison for Gov. Bruce Rauner, and William Rankin, director of learning for Apple, Inc. There were also panel presentations featuring local political analysts and lobbyists from the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance.

In addition to learning how and why local school leaders should advocate on behalf of public education, participants received a variety of tools to craft and deliver their messages to lawmakers at the state capitol. Day Two consisted of a presentation on the legislative initiatives in the Vision 20/20 plan and a detailed report on Illinois pension and fiscal policy by Ralph Martire, executive director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

After lunch and listening to Gov. Rauner’s first budget address, local school leaders were sent via school bus to the Capitol, where many visited with lawmakers, aides and other key legislative staff. The day concluded with a legislative reception at the Statehouse Inn.

At the Capitol, armed with Vision 20/20 position papers and other informational materials, participants provided lawmakers with a breakdown of the Vision 20/20 policy proposals that they hope will be turned into legislation this year, and explained why the plan is important for the future of Illinois public education.

IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy said it was important for school leaders to meet with legislators and discuss their positions. “It allowed some of them to meet their legislators for the first time and build that initial relationship,” Eddy said. “They were able to advocate for the Vision 20/20 policies and then continue that dialogue back home.”

Alliance representatives will be meeting in the near future to discuss next steps for Vision 20/20 legislative initiatives and have already started to consider potential dates for the next Summit.

Additional information and coverage from the Summit is available online at the IASB Facebook and Twitter accounts, and in the March issue of The Illinois School Board Newsbulletin. Videos from some of the presentations will also be available at a later date.