President’s Corner

The Illinois PTA has been asked to serve on the ESSA committee with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Matthew John Rodrigues, our State president has been attending those meetings as the Illinois PTA Representative.
Now we, parents and families, have the opportunity to tell law makers what measures a student success for you. Email the Illinois State Board of Education ESSA Committee at ESSA@ISBE.NET.

In your email tell them what information is important to you to determine whether your child is on track or needs additional support? What does a successful school look like to you? If your child(ren) are out of school what information do you think would have helped you as a parent?

Email them today at ESSA@ISBE.NET

This year’s legislative conference and visit to Capitol Hill was very exciting and successful.  On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. This law replaces the Reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) previously known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).


Now that you have seen the video, you need to know that the new law includes key provisions for family engagement.

On March 14th, the appropriations committee of Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Services (LHHS) subcommittee handles education funding will be meeting regarding the budget for the new ESSA law.

Our “Ask” to the legislators is to commit to appropriate  $10 million dollars to Statewide Family Engagement Centers in FY2017.

We have bi-partisan support in the House by Representative Mark DeSaulnier(D-CA) , Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson(R-PA) and Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA) but not in the Senate. In the Senate letter signatories are Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

We want bi-partisan support, which means both the Republican and Democratic support because all the evidence makes it CLEAR, parental involvement and engagement directly affects student’s outcomes.

How does this impact us? Title 1 (Section 1116) Parent and Family Engagement requires

  • School districts to have a written parent and family engagement policy.
  • School districts must reserve at least 1% of funds for family engagement

The use of the funds for family engagement must be on one of the following

  • Professional development
  • Home and community programs
  • Sharing best practices
  • Collaborating with organizations

Highlights of Title IV (Part E) Family Engagement Centers include

  • A reauthorized and improved version of Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) program in No Child Left Behind
  • Competitive grant program to statewide organizations or a consortia of statewide organizations

Information on the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC’s)

  • They will work with state and local level agencies to support family engagement
  • Provide professional development on evidence-based and effective family engagement strategies
  • Provide direct services to families on how to effectively work with their child’s school and teachers

It was great to see the Senate in action at the Capitol I had an amazing experience in D.C. I hope all of you get the opportunity to go someday.

Here to serve,

Matthew John Rodriguez


President’s Corner

logoimageWelcome back,

As we continue to develop our partnership with McDonald’s I wanted to inform you of a couple new things we are learning along the way. They have a new and exciting program supporting our children’s literacy. As you can see below each of the franchise owners have a deep rooted commitment to distribute books in our communities. I hope you too can recognize what a great commitment this is on behalf of McDonald’s for all of our kids. In addition, I have been learning more about McTeacher’s night. I will cover that program in the next edition of the President’s Corner while highlighting our partnerships.

The following is a message from McDonald’s representatives:

The McDonald’s Owner Operators of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana are committed to families and education, and I’m excited to share with you that they have reached a significant milestone in support of their commitment. With the return of Happy Meal Books this February, McDonald’s reports that by the end of 2016 they will have distributed more than 50 million books to children through both sales and donations since the program began in 2013! This astounding number represents enough copies to provide a book to every child in America under the age of 12.

This infographic shares more information and some staggering facts about literacy – further facts about the importance of reading, lack of access to books in underserved neighborhoods and the value children place on reading with their family is also available should you be interested. As an organization comprised of – and supporting – families and educators, the Illinois PTA is keenly aware of the importance of literacy and the inequalities that exist and welcome the efforts of McDonald’s to help combat this issue.

With regards to the importance of child literacy and education overall, the Illinois PTA and McDonald’s Owners of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana will continue to work to collectively leverage our resources and connect as many children and families to books, local programs and other valuable initiatives to improve their education. We know that our work is not done, and we look to our on-going partnership with McDonald’s to help Illinois teachers and families thrive.

President’s Corner

app-challenge-logo-horizI encourage you to participate in the great opportunity for our most talented youth ages 13 and up to join congress in the “App Challenge”. This challenge is a available for the entire state.

The Congressional App Challenge was created in 2013 by the House of Representatives to engage students in STEM-related career fields. It is an opportunity for interested high school students to design a software application and compete with peers from their district. Each district selects a winning “app” to be put on display in an exhibit at the U.S. Capitol Building and on the House of Representatives website.

The most important place to find information is This is the official website where high school students, teachers, administrators, and parents can learn about the challenge. Interested high school students must register on, and submit their app and a demonstration video by Thursday, January 21 at 2:00 PM Central Time on their district’s page on  by clicking “Submit Solution”. To find your district’s page on, go to, hover over the “Compete” tab on the main screen and click on “Participating Districts”.

Attached is an example of Congresswoman Duckworth’s message.

Good Luck to all of Illinois’s talented youth. I look forward to see the winners from around the state. Time is of the essence so sign up now.

President’s Corner


Today while meeting about breakthroughs in parent engagement and early literacy at the Erickson Institute, Libbi Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary from the Department of Education announced that the President signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as it was taking place.

We would like to give a sincere thank you to all of you for contacting your legislators and heading the advocacy effort to make our children’s educational opportunity better. Although no law is perfect this is a starting point to be the base line of a secure future for our most vulnerable children across the U.S.

This is a perfect example of how each and every one of our voices counts. I look forward to continuing to move advocacy forward. Sí se puede!

Video feed of the President signing ESSA into law can be viewed at:
President Obama Delivers Remarks and Signs the Every Student Succeeds Act
Here to serve,
Matthew John Rodriguez