Recent News

Advance Illinois Congratulates Ginger Ostro on Appointment as Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education

CHICAGO, IL (January 8, 2020) “All of us at Advance Illinois congratulate our former colleague and friend Ginger Ostro on her appointment as the next Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). Ginger led Advance Illinois during a critical time in our growth and was on the front lines of the coalition that fought for and won a more fair and equitable school funding model for our state.”

“Ginger is an outstanding leader who is passionate about education and public service. She is an experienced and smart choice for this role. We wish her and the IBHE board and staff success as they work to ensure that our public and private colleges and universities have the resources and support they need to prepare our students for success in the workforce and in civic life.”

Robin Steans
President
Advance Illinois

About Advance Illinois
Advance Illinois is an independent policy and advocacy organization working toward a health public education system that enables all students to achieve success in college, career and civic life. Since its founding in 2008, Advance Illinois has become a nationally recognized thought leader in education policy advocacy. To learn more visit advanceillinois.org

Contact:
Roderick Hawkins, Communications Director
rhawkins@advanceillinois.org

Ammanuel M. Ayalew, Communications Associate
aayalew@advanceillinois.org

Click here to read the announcement of the governor’s announcement of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding.

Advance Illinois Statement on Governor Pritzker’s Announcement of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding

CHICAGO, IL (December 16, 2019) Advance Illinois President Robin Steans released the following statement on today’s announcement of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding:

“For decades, Governor Pritzker has been a champion for early childhood education. We are pleased that he has made this a priority for his administration and applaud today’s announcement of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding.

“We are also pleased that the Governor announced a 15% Child Care Assistance Program rate increase for centers in rural counties and an across the board 5% increase statewide for centers and homes starting January 1st. These are important step towards ensuring all Illinois children have access to affordable and high quality early childhood programs and services.

“Right now, there are communities across our state that are in ‘deserts’ where there are scarce, if any, early childhood programs or services. Our children deserve better. 

“It is our hope that this commission will provide the data, research and recommendations needed to give all Illinois families access to early childhood services. Advance Illinois is pleased to have been invited to serve on the commission and we look forward to this partnership that will have long term benefits for the state.”  

Robin Steans
President 
Advance Illinois

About Advance Illinois
Advance Illinois is an independent policy and advocacy organization working toward a health public education system that enables all students to achieve success in college, career and civic life. Since its founding in 2008, Advance Illinois has become a nationally recognized thought leader in education policy advocacy. To learn more visit advanceillinois.org.

Contact:
Roderick Hawkins, Communications Director
rhawkins@advanceillinois.org

Ammanuel M. Ayalew, Communications Associate
aayalew@advanceillinois.org

Click here to read the announcement of the governor’s announcement of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding.

Advance Illinois Responds to the Illinois State Board of Education 2019 Illinois Report Card

CHICAGO, IL (October 30, 2019) Advance Illinois President Robin Steans released the following statement about the Illinois State Board of Education 2019 Illinois Report Card

“The 2019 Illinois Report Card takes a major step forward by providing more data and transparency on how schools are funded and how students are performing. By shining a light on new data, including site-based expenditures, student groups, and Civil Rights Data Collection, the Illinois State Board of Education empowers people to have more informed conversations about the public education system generally, and with an equity lens.” 

“Upon preliminary review of the report card, we applaud the progress that has been made in some areas of student achievement, but there is still significant work to be done, and major inequities remain. We look forward to using the data provided in the report card to inform conversations with policy makers and education champions across the state.”

Robin Steans
President 
Advance Illinois

###

About Advance Illinois
Advance Illinois is an independent policy and advocacy organization working toward a health public education system that enables all students to achieve success in college, career and civic life. Since its founding in 2008, Advance Illinois has become a nationally recognized thought leader in education policy advocacy. To learn more visit advanceillinois.org.

Advance Illinois Examines Statewide Education Progress, Ongoing Challenges in New Report

CHICAGO, IL (October 15, 2019) Advance Illinois continues its work as a leading independent, research-based education policy and advocacy organization with the release today of The State We’re In 2019: A Report on Public Education in Illinois. The report—which includes a first-ever regional breakdown and analysis—acknowledges gains across the education spectrum, particularly in K–12, but warns that ongoing gaps in access, affordability and achievement in early childhood and postsecondary, as well as persistent inequity due to outcome gaps based on students’ race and income, threaten Illinois’ economic progress and its workforce.

The report was presented at a luncheon held at the City Club of Chicago that featured a panel discussion with Advance Illinois President Robin Steans, Illinois Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz, State Representative and Assistant Majority Leader Will Davis (D-30th) and Chicago Board of Education President Miguel del Valle.

“While we are pleased that Illinois has posted K–12 academic gains, reduced some achievement gaps that are rooted in racial and economic disparities, and more funds are going to school districts that need them, there are still serious deficiencies throughout the system that require immediate focus and deliberate action, especially in early childhood and postsecondary,” said Steans. “We know what success looks like when we work together to make systemic change. We hope this report can inspire continued movement up the educational ladder from cradle to career.”

Sylvia Puente, Advance Illinois board member and executive director of the Latino Policy Forum, added, “The world that awaits today’s students demands more of them. By 2025, 70 percent of jobs in Illinois will require a college degree or industry certification. Postsecondary attainment remains a key to employment and a living wage.”

In order to meet the state’s workforce demands, education stakeholders are committed to ensuring that at least 60 percent of adults attain a high-quality postsecondary credential by 2025. As shown in The State We’re In 2019, Illinois has its work cut out to reach this milestone. Currently, we’re at 45 percent.

“Our state boasts the fifth largest economy in the country, but our data shows that we have early childhood deserts in communities that need these and other family supports,” said Marin Gjaja, co-chair of the Advance Illinois board and senior partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group. “And while more students are entering and completing college, students of color and economically challenged students still face many barriers to persistence and completion. The troubling fact is that childcare and college in Illinois are among the least affordable in the nation. ”

Now in its sixth edition, The State We’re In examines publicly available data to provide a comprehensive view of Illinois’ public education system. In order to put Illinois’ performance in the context of our nation, the report ranks how well the system serves students relative to other states in three areas: learning conditions, student learning outcomes and equity in student learning outcomes. Illinois ranks in each of these areas from 15th place to 42nd place. 

The report tracked approximately 80 metrics grouped into three categories: early childhood, K–12 and postsecondary. Among the findings in the report:

Early childhood: Fewer children in need of additional supports participate in preschool and childcare services compared to a decade ago. And there are several areas in Illinois where there are no publicly supported early childcare and family services. Only 26 percent of our children are kindergarten ready. Illinois ranks 27th nationally for learning conditions. Data for outcomes and equity in outcomes does not exist but is needed for future reporting and action steps.

K–12: Illinois is near the top of the nation in academic growth. We have seen important gains for Latinx students, however, overall progress is uneven for black students and students from low-income homes, and is insufficient to make up for racial and income gaps that begin in early childhood. The teacher shortage and the lack of teacher diversity also has a significant impact on student outcomes. The Evidence-Based Funding model has infused much needed resources into school districts, but more needs to be done to bring all districts to full funding adequacy. Illinois ranks 25th nationally for learning conditions, 22nd in outcomes and 31st in equity in outcomes.  

Postsecondary: Enrollment rates of Illinois high school graduates continue to improve, however, overall enrollment rates in Illinois institutions are down across all sectors, particularly among black students. More work must be done to improve access, affordability, persistence and completion. Illinois ranks 28th nationally for learning conditions, 15th in outcomes and 42nd in equity in outcomes. 

For the first time, The State We’re In includes a regional analysis with district-level data to support community-based conversations about progress, outcomes and opportunities for improvement. More insights by region/district are available at advanceillinois.org.

This edition of the report recognizes innovative strategies in three community spotlights: Vienna High School District 133 and its strategy to improve college readiness; Rockford District 205’s handling of its teacher shortage; and the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative and its member institutions’ commitment to ensuring that more students of color and economically challenged students thrive in and complete college.   

For the full The State We’re In report, including interactive features, visit advanceillinois.org. More interactive features, including interactive maps and charts, will be available online in winter 2020.

About Advance Illinois

Advance Illinois is an independent policy and advocacy organization working toward a health public education system that enables all students to achieve success in college, career and civic life. Since its founding in 2008, Advance Illinois has become a nationally recognized thought leader in education policy advocacy. To learn more visit advanceillinois.org.

Statement on the Appointment of Illinois’ State Superintendent of Education and ISBE’s Board of Directors

“We are thrilled by the announcement that Dr. Carmen Ayala has been appointed as Illinois’ State Superintendent of Education. Dr. Ayala will be our state’s first female superintendent, as well as the first Latina to take the helm of the state’s schools. She has been a trailblazer on behalf of kids throughout her career, most recently ensuring equity for all students through her leadership in passing an equitable school funding formula. We have also seen remarkable progress made in student outcomes during her tenure as superintendent at Berwyn North.

We are equally pleased to hear the selection for the Illinois State Board of Education’s board. Together, these new members have spent decades upon decades championing a high quality education for Illinois’ students. We look forward to working with Dr. Ayala and the board during this period of transition and for the next four years.”

###

Advance Illinois is a bipartisan education policy and advocacy organization committed to ensuring all children have access to a world-class education from birth to postsecondary and/or career. For more information please go to advanceillinois.org or follow us on Facebook @AdvanceIllinois or Twitter @AdvanceIllinois.

Contact:
Anna Schneider, Senior Communications Associate
217-242-9645
aschneider@advanceillinois.org

Statement on the Governor’s Budget Address

The below statement can be attributed to Robin Steans, President of Advance Illinois:

“Gov. JB Pritzker’s address today solidifies his promise to invest in all students statewide. We applaud him for ensuring that investment in public education is the state’s top priority.

Investing in the entire continuum of education— early childhood through career— will begin to restore our state’s devastated economy and ensure that our communities across the state can thrive.

Gov. Pritzker proposed increases over last year’s funding to early childhood, K-12, and higher education. His proposal includes:

  • an additional $100 million to early childhood education
  • an additional $375 million to K-12
  • a 5 percent increase for community colleges and public universities
  • $50 million for MAP grants

This step towards equity for our most underserved students and communities is a huge step in the right direction, especially for children birth to 5 years old. But, we know there are difficult challenges ahead including the need for broader fiscal health to sustain these important and necessary investments. We hope the Governor and legislators will tackle these issues in a serious way.

We are ready for this new path forward and are eager to work together toward achieving the world-class public education system we know our Illinois students deserve.”

###

Advance Illinois is a bipartisan education policy and advocacy organization committed to ensuring all children have access to a world-class education from birth to postsecondary and/or career. For more information please go to advanceillinois.org or follow us on Facebook @AdvanceIllinois or Twitter @AdvanceIllinois.

 

Contact:
Anna Schneider, Senior Communications Associate
217-242-9645
aschneider@advanceillinois.org

Advance Illinois Announces Leadership Transition

January 24, 2019

Chicago, IL – Advance Illinois announced today that Robin Steans will be returning to Advance Illinois as President effective Friday, January 25. Robin succeeds Ginger Ostro, who has served as Executive Director of the organization for the past three years.

Robin was the founding Executive Director of Advance Illinois at its inception in 2008 and was instrumental in building it into one of the most recognized and well-regarded education policy and advocacy organizations in the state and across the country.

“Under Robin’s leadership, Advance Illinois will continue its important work, building on recent progress and helping us shape an equally dynamic set of priorities as we head into our next ten years,” wrote John Edwardson and Marin Gjaja, co-chairs of the board of directors at Advance Illinois in a recent letter to stakeholders. “You can expect us to continue to work on fully funding the new formula, focusing on quality instruction, ensuring all children get a strong, early start, and finding new and innovative ways to create a culture of continuous improvement.”

Robin, a former public school teacher in Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago, has been a driving force in public education for over 25 years.  A Chicago public school parent herself, Robin has worked with stakeholders, families and community leaders to advocate for policies that improve student outcomes for all children from birth through college or career. Among other notable accomplishments, Robin was instrumental in the state’s recent success in creating a more equitable K-12 school funding formula.

About Advance Illinois:
Advance Illinois is a bipartisan education policy and advocacy organization committed to ensuring all children have access to a world class education from birth to postsecondary and/or career. For more information please go to advanceillinois.org or follow us on Facebook @AdvanceIllinois or Twitter @AdvanceIllinois.

###

Press Release: Pritzker-Stratton’s Educational Success Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Anna Schneider
Senior Communications Associate
217.242.9645
aschneider@advanceillinois.org

 Ginger Ostro of Advance Illinois to Serve on Pritzker-Stratton’s
Educational Success Transition Committee

November 27, 2018

 Chicago, IL — Today, Governor-elect JB Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor-elect Juliana Stratton announced that Ginger Ostro, executive director of Advance Illinois would serve as a member of the Educational Success Transition Committee.

“This committee is the first step in ensuring education is made a top priority in the state. I am excited to be a part of— what I expect to be— the beginning of educational transformation for all kids, especially the historically underserved, from birth on to career,” said Ginger Ostro, executive director of Advance Illinois.

“With so many diverse experts and advocates serving on this committee, real and positive change will happen. We are thrilled that so many champions of the equitable school funding campaign are also serving on the committee,” said John Edwardson, board co-chair of Advance Illinois.

“I am confident that the Pritzker administration will invest in our public education system. We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us to adequately and equitably support our state’s next generation of citizens, thus supporting the improvement of Illinois’ economy,” said Marin Gjaja, board co-chair of Advance Illinois.

###

Statement on ISBE’s Recommendations to Address Teacher Shortage

Statement submitted on behalf of the Teachers for Illinois’ Future Coalition

10/18/2018

“The Teachers for Illinois’ Future coalition is committed to ensuring students statewide have access to the teachers needed to prepare them for their future. We are pleased that the Illinois State Board of Education linked funding for districts using the evidenced-based funding formula to finding a long-term solution to this challenge. While the State Board today approved drafted recommendations, we reiterate our statements at today’s meeting. We are in favor of making the ACT and SAT the only test of basic skills, but we urge ISBE to engage in broad stakeholder engagement when it comes to deciding on the competencies teachers need on day one. The same stakeholder engagement, plus robust research is necessary as ISBE begins to propose statutory changes.

We want neither systemic barriers to teachers of color nor loop-holes around rigorous training of teachers, wherever that training comes from.

We must work together and remain focused on our goal: ensuring that our children have the qualified teachers they need on the first day they begin school, especially low-income students, students of color, and rural students.”

Signatories to the Statement

Advance Illinois

Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools

Berwyn South School District 100

Council of Chicago Area Deans of Education (CCADE)

East Saint Louis District 189

Equity First Superintendents

Faith Coalition for the Common Good

Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Northeastern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University

Roosevelt University

Stand for Children

Teach Plus

Statement on ISBE’s Solutions to Address State’s Teacher Shortage Crisis

Sept. 13, 2018

The Teachers for Illinois’ Future Coalition supports ISBE’s proposed recommendations to end the state’s teacher shortage crisis, as stated in their “Teach Illinois: Strong Teachers, Strong Classrooms” report. The recommendations align with our coalition’s core principles which we use to evaluate proposals.

Our principles are as follows:

1. Ensure students have the teachers they need in order to learn.
2. Support teachers’ growth from exploration of profession and throughout their career.
3. Increase the respect for and the desirability of the teaching profession.
4. Provide school and program leaders with systemic flexibility to meet their students’ needs.

We think action on these recommendations will make progress toward eliminating the state’s current teacher shortage crisis. We are pleased to see ISBE’s emphasis on working with partners to achieve these changes. We look forward to future conversations on the specifics of the strategies, how the recommendations will be prioritized, systematically implemented, and equitably and adequately funded.
We appreciate ISBE’s thorough analysis and thoughtful recommendations brought forward in the “Teach Illinois” report. We urge the State Board to continue to bring together experts and advocates from across the state to ensure a comprehensive and integrated solution is developed.

Signatories to the Statement:
Advance Illinois
Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools
Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University
Council of Chicago Area Deans of Education
Equity First Superintendents
Faith Coalition for the Common Good
Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools
League of United Latin American Citizens
Northern Illinois University
Roosevelt University
Stand for Children Illinois
Teach Plus Illinois

About Teachers for Illinois’ Future
Teachers for Illinois’ Future is a coalition made up of diverse education experts and advocates who work to ensure all students, especially those who need the most, have access to the teachers they need to prepare them for college and career.