Policy Fellowship Alumni

2019 Class of Stand Policy Fellows
Policy Focus: Adequate Funding, Spent Wisely Funding

Until Illinois started using an evidence-based funding formula in FY2018, the State had the most inequitably funded schools in the nation. Slowly but surely, the exciting effects of fair funding in classrooms are revealing themselves. Still, an endeavor of this scale requires time and increased funding.

By design, the 2019 Policy Fellowship was shorter and customized. The Fellows studied Illinois’ new school funding formula, then had opportunities to dive deeper into aspects of equitable funding based on their individual interests. They discovered how smart funding can help close achievement gaps and improve student learning. The Fellows learned from experts, conducted research, and participated in group discussions weighing the merits of different funding mechanisms. Some Fellows used this experience to inform their work on school boards. Others advocated for smarter funding around arts education and other focus areas.

Policy Fellows

  • Molly Palmer, Galesburg
  • Keira Quintero, Addison
  • Seville Spearman, Chicago
  • Mark Steen, Wilmette
  • Felicia Williams, Chicago

2018-19 Class of Stand Policy Fellows
Policy Focus: College and Career Readiness

Illinois has a brain drain epidemic.

More Illinois high school graduates go to out-of-state colleges than students from any other state except New Jersey. Meanwhile, within Illinois’ borders, our education system is draining the futures of every student it fails to educate adequately and equitably. It is sobering that:

  • More than a third of Illinois high schools do not offer calculus;
  • Illinois has the sixth-worse counselor-to-students ratio in the country; and
  • Course selection is unaligned with labor demands – about 10% of CTE students enroll in courses representing 50% of the highest growing job sectors in Illinois (manufacturing, energy, and health sciences).

The 2018-19 Class of Policy Fellows examined where Illinois high schools are falling short in preparing students for college and career. The Fellows studied how State and federal policies, if well-crafted and implemented, can reduce barriers to early college coursework and create frameworks for career exploration. They examined how neighboring states approach these issues and outlined policy planks for improving college and career readiness. Those planks, in turn, became the foundation for the report Stop Illinois Brain Drain: Building Pathways to Prosperity for High School Students. The report received considerable media attention and plays an important role in shaping the policy priorities of Stand Illinois.

Policy Fellows

  • Cymone Card, Chicago
  • Raechal Maat, Harvard
  • Louis Makarewicz, Chicago
  • Jeanette Maydan, Chicago
  • Nicole Patel, Forest Park
  • Cynthia Ralls, Plano
  • Abigail Schultz, Chicago
  • Dovie Shelby, Romeoville
  • Wilbur “Will” Tillman, Calumet City
  • Kayla Valenti, Chicago
  • Mia Woods, Springfield 

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2017-18 Class of Stand Policy Fellows
Policy Focus: School Quality and Accountability

In 2017, the U.S. Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which requires states to create for federal approval accountability systems for ensuring all students have access to a quality public education. ESSA presented a golden opportunity for Illinois to redefine what makes a school “good.”

The 2017-18 Class of Stand Policy Fellows spent half of the program learning about and discussing ways to measure school quality. The Fellows also collaborated with Stand staff to create a set of guiding principles for designing the State’s accountability plan. Those principles formed the foundation for several advocacy actions by the Fellows: a conference call with the Secretary of Education, testimony before the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and meetings with legislators in Springfield.

Ultimately, the official Illinois ESSA Plan shared many of the qualities in Stand’s guiding principles. Stand continues to monitor and collaborate with ISBE on implementation of the State plan, so the contributions of the Policy Fellows remain enduring.

Policy Fellows

  • Savitri Boodram, Urbana
  • Linda Byrd, Springfield
  • Celeste Dean, Springfield
  • Bertha Jackson, Aurora
  • Lisa Kulisek, Chicago
  • Sheenita Robinson, Chicago
  • Keshia Wilson, Chicago

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