Guidelines for Authors

The Illinois School Board Journal is seeking compelling and relevant stories about today’s important public education issues. We welcome new contributors. Potential Journal writers are invited to read current and past issues to get an understanding of the publication.

About the Journal and its Readers

The Illinois School Board Journal is published bimonthly by the Illinois Association of School Boards and mailed to approximately 6,000 members of local public school boards and 2,500 school administrators, state and federal government offices, professors of education administration, organization leaders, and interested citizens.

The Journal's aim is to serve school board members with information and insights to be effective in their governance role. School board members are volunteers who wish to do the best job possible for school and community; have little or no formal instruction or experience in education or government; have demands on their time (including a full-time vocation outside education); and seek material that is accessible and relevant.

The school board fills a role different from all the others in public education. The Journal addresses the needs of public bodies whose job it is to set goals and direction for their local systems of education, adopt school district policies, and monitor results.

If you believe your piece on an emerging topic in your area of expertise would benefit the readers of the Journal, please read on.

How to Improve Your Chances of Seeing Your Article
in the Illinois School Board Journal

The Journal includes writers from IASB staff, seeks out experts in their fields, invites school board members to comment and contribute, and works with state and national education-supporting institutions.

The Journal works with freelance writers on a limited basis. 

The Journal also welcomes unsolicited proposals or submissions. If the topic is compelling and relevant, the article is more likely to be accepted for publication. The material should be focused and supported with examples, statistics, research, and expert opinion as needed; but not so sharply focused that it is not relevant to districts of different types, locations, sizes, regions, communities, and cultures.

Here are some tips for improving your chances of getting published:

  1. Define the topic and approach carefully. It's usually better to treat a narrow topic in depth than a broad topic superficially.
  2. Be direct, and use your expertise. Write for the Journal the same way you would converse with someone you were trying to help, rather than impress.
  3. Ask yourself:
    • Will school board members consider the issue important?
    • If not, can I reveal its importance by relating it to something that is of known concern to school boards?
  4. The article must be written in journalistic style, which is different from academic or research styles that many submitters are accustomed to. 
    • Journal articles begin with the most relevant, interesting, or important point and proceed with supporting detail. The “inverted pyramid” metaphor describes this style of writing. 
    • Academic papers usually start with data or methodology and build to conclusions. An academic piece can be re-written and edited for publication in journalistic style.
    • The Journal does not use footnotes or cite references in academic fashion. Such attributions should be written into the text. A list of references can be included.
  5. Article length: We like to say “long enough to tell the story,” but we also understand that writers like goals (or limits). Journal articles usually range from 1,000 to 2,500 words. Be clear, compelling, and treat the subject matter with the necessary depth to educate the reader. 

We value expertise. The Journal editor will work with authors to achieve the appropriate structure, style, and format while maintaining the author’s voice.

Appropriate Subject Matter and Treatment of Articles

Journal readers come from different points of view and different levels of experience. Surveys show interest in basic knowledge of school governance (laws, funding, finance, and the duties and powers of school boards), current topics and news affecting school boards; leadership; achieving high standards of school performance; and information and recommendations to help avoid or address challenges facing school boards.

Each edition of the Journal contains a number of articles dealing with a single topic, plus stand-alone articles on other subjects. The editor looks for subject matter that is making news or ought to be. Recent cover stories include equity, finance and funding, teacher shortage, safety and security, trauma-informed practices, emergency response, new board members, collective bargaining, and referendums. A Journal article achieves at least one of the following:

  • Shows how to be successful in conducting meetings, dealing with the public, setting policies, evaluating results of policies, or other aspects of school board work.
  • Provides insights into a complex or controversial public education issue.
  • Helps school board members understand the board's role in school governance and aims to inspire them to higher levels of performance.
  • Helps school boards better understand and deal with problems, overcome weaknesses, and capitalize on strengths.
  • Conveys information that will help school boards deal with state and federal policies or other forces bearing on their schools.

Submitting an Article and What Comes Next

Submit your article or proposal via email attachment to the email address below. Include your name, address, and telephone number. Give your name exactly as you wish it to appear with the article, and provide a brief author identification blurb that includes your professional title and any qualifications that pertain to your article. If the article was previously published, please include details and a link if available.

Illustrations that help tell the story are appreciated. Photographs, drawings, infographics, charts, tables, etc. should be labeled with explanatory captions and credits, and submitted with the article. 

Proposals and articles for consideration may be submitted at any time. The Journal editor will acknowledge receipt of your article as soon as possible. A decision on the disposition of your article may take several weeks. In many instances, there is a lead-time of up to a year before your article appears in print. 

Your article will be edited to conform to IASB and Journal style (adapted from the Associated Press Stylebook). It also will be edited — sometimes extensively — for clarity and appropriateness for school board member needs and interests. If requested in advance, the edited article can be returned to you for final approval prior to publication. In some cases, the editor will request revisions from the author.

The Journal carries a byline and brief bio of its authors. Authors receive three complimentary print copies.

The Journal infrequently employs freelance writers for projects. To send a proposal, be notified of RFPs, or for more information, please contact the editor.

Please direct questions, proposals, and submissions to

Theresa Kelly Gegen
Editor, Illinois School Board Journal
and Director, Editorial Services/Communications
Illinois Association of School Boards
2921 Baker Drive, Springfield IL 62703
(217) 528-9688 ext. 1104