Recent News

Advance Illinois Statement on Governor Pritzker’s Extension of Stay-At-Home Order

CHICAGO, IL (March 31, 2020) Advance Illinois President Robin Steans released the following statement in response to Governor Pritzker’s extension of the stay-at-home order for Illinois residents:

“In these unprecedented times, it is important that we have leadership that is strong, informed by reliable data and expertise, and puts the safety and wellness of the people first. We applaud Governor Pritzker’s leadership in the COVID-19 crisis and understand the need to extend Illinois’ stay-at-home order through April 30th.”

“Our hearts go out to the students, parents, and educators impacted by this difficult, but necessary decision. The learning continues, and we are confident that our state agencies, under the leadership of Dr. Carmen Ayala, Ginger Ostro and Secretary Grace Hou, will do everything in their power to work with school districts, programs and institutions to help them make the best of this very challenging moment.”

“We will do our part to advocate for the resources and support needed to recover from the learning loss and other challenges that will be felt across the state as a result of school campuses remaining closed.”

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 K. Hawkins, Communications Director
rhawkins@advanceillinois.org

José García, Communications Associate
jgarcia@advanceillinois.org

From the Desk of Robin Steans

We’re in this Together

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I never imagined there would be a time that I would be reaching out to you in the midst of a global health crisis that has closed the doors of schools around our nation and across Illinois. However, this is the world we are in today. All of us at Advance Illinois want to express our admiration and appreciation for the families, caregivers and educators across our state who are managing through these challenging times. We learn a great deal about ourselves and others in times of difficulty and stress, and it is inspiring to see so many people come together to do right by children and families. For inspiring stories and examples of measures being taken at the local level, follow the #ILSchoolsStepUp hashtag. It is a wonderful positive antidote to the circumstances we find ourselves in and a reminder of the power of community.

As COVID-19 forces educators and administrators to repurpose learning across all sectors, we want to applaud the swift and nimble response of the Pritzker Administration, State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director Ginger Ostro, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou and school administrators, teachers and staff from early learning centers on up through the higher education system. We appreciate their dedication to keeping learning environments as intact as possible, even remotely. And, we are grateful for those who are ensuring that our students are kept safe, fed and stimulated and that parents remain connected to teachers and providers. 

Our team is in touch with national colleagues to understand how other states are responding to the crisis and to see if there are common needs that might benefit from a coordinated “ask” to the federal government. 

We are in touch with philanthropic partners who arecoming together to raise and pool funds and find ways to put those resources to work to support local needs. 

Most importantly, we are committed to staying in close contact with you: education stakeholders and leaders across the state to understand issues and opportunities and to identify ways in which we can help. 

The days ahead will be difficult and will test our collective resolve, but we are in this together. Advance Illinois will do our part to share information and resources to you, our partners and colleagues, as we navigate this crisis. Thank you all for everything you are doing for our students during this challenging and unprecedented time. We salute you.

Sincerely and in partnership,

Robin Steans
President

Advance Illinois Responds to Governor Pritzker’s Proposed FY21 Budget

CHICAGO, IL (February 19, 2020) Advance Illinois President Robin Steans released the following statement in response to Governor Pritzker’s proposed FY21 budget: 

“The State of Illinois faces real and serious financial challenges, that much is clear and known.  That said, we are deeply disappointed that, in his FY21 budget proposal, Governor Pritzker has chosen to invest in the children of Illinois based on the hope that a fair tax amendment will pass in November. This two-tiered budget—with some dollars immediately available and authorized, and some dollars held in reserve pending passage of a constitutional amendment enabling a progressive income tax—is a significant blow to our children and the adults who are committed to shaping their futures.”

“In his proposed budget, the governor has allocated $200M for Evidence-Based Funding, with an additional $150M held in reserve.  This raises two very serious alarms.  First, and most importantly, the state has made a clear and statutory commitment to invest no less than $350 million in the K-12 system each year for ten years.  As proposed, this budget runs the real risk of turning its back on that commitment and the children who depend on it.” 

“Secondly, and practically speaking, the budget, as proposed, means that school districts around the state must and will plan around the assured $200M increase, depriving students in already underfunded districts of additional programming and supports enabled by the $150M reserve.  This same planning and budgeting challenge will play out in child care centers, preschools, community colleges and universities.”

“In a world where the current Minimum Funding Level won’t get us to full funding in the promised ten-year timeframe, and where we want schools to put new dollars to work for children as quickly and effectively as possible, the FY21 investment strategy is devastating.” 

“We urge Governor Pritzker and the members of the General Assembly to seriously reconsider the budget as presented and find ways to invest in the future of Illinois with resources that are available now.  Our schools need the full $350 million that has been promised, even as we work to assure a stronger fiscal base to permit even greater investments going forward.  Childcare centers, schools, colleges and universities need both adequate funding and predictability throughout the academic year to provide for the diverse needs of students across the state. They cannot build budgets based on hopes and assumptions. Our children’s futures require dependable and steady investments, and they count on us to keep our promises.”

Robin Steans
President
Advance Illinois

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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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