Front Page

By Theresa Kelly Gegen
Journal | March/April 2024 

School board members in Illi¬nois come from a variety of back¬grounds, experiences, occupations, and demographics and bring a variety of opinions, viewpoints, and priorities. They also come in a variety of learning styles, modes of deliberating, and methods of taking action. This also applies to school board member advocacy, as you will discover – if you haven’t previously – while reading this issue of the Illi¬nois School Board Journal. 

There are many ways that school board members can be involved in advocacy, from meet-ing in person on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to discussing legislation with your board of education, to filling out a witness slip from the comfort of your own home. In this Journal, readers can learn about the ways and means of advocacy from legislative leaders, school board members, and IASB staff. Plus, we’ve corresponded with neighbors and friends in the field to bring you a complete pic¬ture of the ways you can advocate for your local school district and for public education. 

We are grateful to Sen¬ate President Harmon, Senate Minority Leader Curran, Senator Bennett, House Minority Leader McCombie, and House Speak¬er Welch, for taking the time to answer questions for this issue. You can read their thoughts starting on pages 12 and 20. Another elected official, Fremont SD 79 School board member Shawn Killackey shares thoughts and experiences with advocacy starting on page 33. 

Also thanks to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and its Wisconsin School News Advocacy Issue, which this Journal not only emulates and was inspired by, but also includes a piece from Wiscon¬sin’s excellent work. You can read “Advocacy and the Board Meeting” on page 30. We are also pleased to share a commentary from School Administrator Magazine. “We’re Here for the Kids” by Noelle Eller¬son-Ng, the Associate Executive Director for Advocacy & Gover¬nance with AASA, shares perspec¬tive on the importance of federal advocacy and how to successfully advocate for public education. 

I am further grateful to the IASB Governmental Relations team members, who jumped into this project with enthusiasm, sharing time they didn’t really have to spare, so that the Journal could present this important and dynamic advo¬cacy information to readers. My appreciation goes out to IASB’s new Associate Executive Director Sarah Miller and teammates Mary Ellen Buch, Barbara Hobrock, Mike Ste¬vens, and Alie Wagner for bringing their ideas, energy, information, and outreach to this Advocacy Issue. You can read more about their work starting on page 22. 

It bears repeating: School board members in Illinois come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, occupations, and demographics and bring a variety of opinions, viewpoints, and pri¬orities. To that end, and to under¬stand our membership, IASB will be engaging members, requesting information and opinions on topics that are important to you and to public education governance as a whole. We hope when you see these requests from IASB to complete a member survey and to update your board member information, you will take the opportunity to do so. We appreciate your time, and it will help your Association continue its vision of “excellence in local school board governance supporting quali¬ty public education.”

Theresa Kelly Gegen is the Editor of the Illinois School Board Journal and can be reached at