A June 5 email from Advance Illinois, the statewide education organization that's been forming over the past year, announced some new details about the organization's shape and membership, along with its first executive director, Robin Steans.
Steans has been a presence in school reform circles for many years, mostly through the Steans Foundation, which she helped run. She's also been a teacher, LSC member, and founder of several organizations, according to this email.
As head of Advance Illinois, she'll head what's intended to be an objective, independent advocacy organization working on statewide education issues. What that means, exactly, or how AE will coordinate with existing state reform organizations, remain to be seen. But this is a Gates-funded initiative, so you can guess that high school reform and workforce readiness will be a big part of the agenda.
Thanks to a reader for passing this along. Feel free to forward emails, memos, and announcements of interest to district299 at gmail dot com. I won't use your name without permission.
------ Forwarded Message
From: Advance Illinois <advanceillinois@advanceillinois
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2008 18:29:57 -0500
Conversation: Advance Illinois
Subject: Advance Illinois
We are writing to you as a leader who cares deeply about how prepared
Illinois' children are for the future, and who has worked with us in
efforts to improve the quality of public schools across the state. We
want to share with you some advance news about a new nonprofit
education policy organization we will launch this fall called Advance Illinois and to thank those of you who have helped us think things through over the past year.
Advance Illinois will be an independent, objective voice to
promote a public education system in Illinois that prepares all
students to be ready for work, college, and democratic citizenship.
Advance Illinois intends to provide objective research and data about
the state of education in Illinois, work in a bipartisan way to develop
a multi-issue policy agenda for change, partner with other groups and
leaders to build public support for key policy changes, and keep
student needs always at the center of its work.
Why a new education organization? Illinois is a cultural and economic
leader, but statewide education performance is, at best, mediocre. We
lag on nearly every important indicator of education quality,
achievement and attainment that matters – for example, elementary
school reading, high school mathematics and science, high school
graduation rates and college entrance and completion rates. In
addition, the achievement gaps between Illinois' highest and lowest
income students and between its majority and minority populations are
among the worst in the nation. At the same time, the state must
develop highly skilled workers across a broad range of fields. If
Illinois wants to bring in better, higher-paying jobs, it must turn out
better graduates. The state needs to raise its expectations and
strengthen its policies. This will create opportunity for all young
people and enhance the long-term well-being of Illlinois' civic life
and economy. Alongside existing organizations that address particular
educational issues or regions, Advance Illinois is committed to
addressing the comprehensive array of issues affecting students across
the state, and will do so by helping to drive change at the state
In advance of the organization's fall launch, Advance Illinois is
pleased to announce that the organization has hired Robin M. Steans to
serve as its Executive Director.
Robin has significant experience in public school reform, and has led
efforts designed to develop and retain high quality teachers, support
intensive school-based instructional strategies, bring additional
social supports to students in at-risk neighborhoods, and increase
college-readiness and access. She has worked as a public school
teacher in Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco; served as a board member
of education policy organizations; and founded several start-up
organizations. We believe Robin's skills and track record - her
ability to unite individuals for common cause, her knowledge of
education policy and how it plays out at the school level, her
experience as a public school parent, teacher, Local School Council
member and activist, and her relentless passion for improving education
for all children - make her an outstanding captain of our team.
We hope to engage you in the coming months as we work to refine our
agenda and strategy. Robin will be spending her first few months on
the job ramping up for our fall launch, and would welcome your input
and an opportunity to tell you more about our work. Please look for
more information in coming months, and don't hesitate to get in touch
with Robin or us in the meantime. Robin can be reached at
rsteans@AdvanceIllinois.org or at (312) 235-4545. We look forward to
partnering with you on this critical issue.
The Advance Illinois Board of Directors
Professor of Law and President Emeritus, Illinois Institute of Technology
William M. Daley
Chairman of the Midwest Region, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Clerk Miguel del Valle
City Clerk of Chicago and former Chair of Illinois Senate Education Committee
Governor Jim Edgar
Former Governor of Illinois
2006-2007 Illinois Teacher of the Year, Effingham High School
Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Former Speaker of the House, US House of Representatives
Dr. Timothy Knowles
Lewis-Sebring Director, Urban Education Institute, University of Chicago
Director, Center for Metropolitan Chicago Initiatives, University of Notre Dame Institute for Latino Studies
Charles P. Rose
Founding Partner, Franczek Sullivan, P.C.
Edward B. Rust Jr.
Chairman and CEO, State Farm Insurance Companies
Executive Director, TARGET Area Community Development Corporation
Filed under: Foundation Follies