Earlier today, members of the Illinois legislature took the oath of office for a new term as members of the General Assembly. On Monday, Governor JB Pritzker was sworn in for his second term as governor. I was there on Monday, along with my colleague Jessica, for the ceremony and the pomp and circumstance.

As our elected officials set their agenda and plan their ’23 goals, now is a great time for us to congratulate them and urge their support for our shared priorities.

I’m talking about common sense priorities like ensuring Illinois schools have the funding they need to give kids the education they deserve; providing evidence-based literacy instruction to boost our state’s sagging reading scores; working to ensure racial justice in the youth court system; and, working together to offer students expanded opportunities for advanced coursework.

Let’s congratulate our elected leaders on their inauguration and urge them to focus on issues that will make a positive difference for Illinois children and their families!

Thank you for standing with us as we start the new year. I look forward to everything we accomplish together this year.

Before I ring in the new year with my family, I wanted to send you a quick note with one last request for 2022.

We achieved so much this year thanks to generous supporters just like you who bolstered our efforts to increase investments in the classroom and develop programs to spread kindness in schools across the state.

But 2023 is a new year, and to keep the success going, we need you to keep standing with us.

Before you log off to celebrate, please consider taking a moment to make a tax-deductible gift to support our work.

I’m excited to see everything we’ll achieve together in 2023!

As the year winds down, I’m reflecting on all that Stand has achieved this year. From expanding access to Dual Credit and career technical education classes to improving literacy for young readers across the state, there’s so much to be proud of — but still so much to achieve in 2023.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Stand for Children Leadership Center today to support our mission.

  • $25 can support a family engagement event for Illinois parents
  • $50 can help support a parent or educator to attend Stand’s resilience and well-being retreats
  • $250 can help established a Teach Kindness program at an Illinois elementary school

The clock is ticking down, but there’s still time to invest in the important work of Stand parents and educators striving to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for students. Show that you stand with Illinois students by making your gift today.

Donate button smiling child

I’m assuming you’re busy wrapping things up — literally and figuratively — before a much-needed break for the holidays, but I want to take a moment to say thank you and recount how you stepped up this year.

Education advocates took action to help to expand students’ access to dual credit and career-technical education courses throughout Illinois. You supported our campaign to improve literacy instruction and outcomes for young people across the state. You backed our continued efforts to support new investment in the Evidence-Based Funding formula, which annually sends $1.5 billion more in state funding to classrooms than before it became law. You made a commitment to vote and stay engaged.

It’s clear that you understand the importance of Stand’s mission and how, by working together, we can increase opportunities for Illinois students. In this season of giving, please consider a donation to continue supporting our work and achieving results for students, families, and educators.

When I look back on 2022 and all we achieved together, I see so many positive sparks of change for our children. Your gift of $5 today will help spark the next change.

Schools became kinder, more welcoming spaces for students and staff through the Teach Kindness program.

Educators thrived as they helped improve school climate and parent engagement through the CAFE Coaching program.

More children in underserved neighborhoods got the tools and programs they needed to become better readers.

We gained important insight into perspectives on Dual Credit courses through our community survey. We know where to work and build support to expand access to this critical high school resource now.

Our Payton Parent Fellows grew as leaders and helped put parents and caregivers at the table when important issues were discussed at the state and district level. All of this work – really, all of it – is possible only thanks to the support of folks like you. Your generous support allows us to make a difference every day across so many issues, programs, and relationships.

Voting booths

All the campaign ads, canvassers, mailers, and texts have led us to one of my favorite places on earth: the voting booth.

Election Day is when our voices are heard louder than ever. It’s when we speak up for candidates who support education equity and racial justice. For folks who support Illinois children and families.

If you haven’t already, today is your day to speak up. Find your polling location here.

We watched and listened, friends – now it’s our turn to be heard.

I love the reaction we’ve received to the student videos released last week. Their amazing experiences with Dual Credit courses, and the bright futures they all have ahead of them in college and career, show the vast potential of these game-changing courses.

Those stories are inspiring. I know there are more just like them, or could be, if we work together and broaden access to advanced courses like Dual Credit.

That’s where Stand’s Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit comes in. We released the toolkit a year ago in the hopes of giving Illinoisans at every level of the education system – parents, students, educators, administrators, community members – the tools they need to grow Dual Credit’s impact in their school. Folks have put it to use and added to their own stories.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to explore the Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit. It offers a step-by-step guide to bring Dual Credit to your school, grow an existing program, or even help guide educators through the steps of gaining required certification. It really has something for everyone!

Dig into the Toolkit and use it to add to your own Dual Credit story. I can’t wait to hear what you accomplish. As always, if we can help lend a hand, please reach out. We’re always happy to help grow Dual Credit across the state.

19 children and 2 adults were shot dead yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The children were second, third, and fourth-graders. Both adults were teachers at the school.

In the nine and a half years since 20 first-graders and 6 teachers were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been 900 incidents of gunfire on school grounds and nearly 3,500 mass shootings.

A week and a half ago, a white supremacist opened fire at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., killing 10 people who were grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon.

The United States is the only country on earth with frequent mass shootings. The only one.

Why do we stand for this carnage?

After mass shootings in other countries, elected leaders put an end to them by passing common sense laws.

Here, despite overwhelming public support for common sense gun safety laws, lawmakers are unwilling to stand up to the gun lobby.

Will this time be different? Or will Republican members of Congress once again block broadly popular legislation that would prevent mass shootings?

It depends on whether we — the overwhelming majority of Americans who support universal background checks and oppose the sale of weapons of war — insist this time be different.

It’s that simple.

Please sign up with Everytown for Gun Safety today and keep using your voice and your vote until politicians prioritize lives over the gun lobby.

Today is the day. The deadline to apply for the City of Chicago program that will give 5,000 qualified residents $500 per month for a year is today, Friday, May 13 at 11:59pm. Apply now if you haven’t already.

There are some eligibility requirements for people looking to participate. Those requirements are:

  • You reside in the City of Chicago AND
  • You are 18 years of age or older AND
  • You have experienced economic hardship related to COVID-19 AND
  • Your household income level falls at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level

Don’t miss this opportunity for $500 per month for 12 months, no strings attached. Be sure to apply now.

We want every eligible Chicagoan to apply before today’s deadline. We believe in policies that promote economic security and economic justice.

If you are eligible, I hope you will complete your application before the deadline. And please share the application link with your friends and family who might also be interested in applying.

teacher in a blue shirt helping student wearing a jean jacket with her school work

This is Teacher Appreciation Week, and an important reminder that in these times of “culture wars” to consider what more we can do to support educators.

May I suggest that you read the recent op-ed co-authored by Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Stand’s Executive Officer Jonah Edelman. In this piece, published by Time.com, Weingarten and Edelman push back against the arguments being used to try to undermine public education.

“Just as extremists have used the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election to undermine American democracy, far-right advocates of privatizing public education are using Big Lies to undermine public schools. Supporters of public schools must see these ugly attacks for what they are and take a stand against them.”

Edelman and Weingarten highlight examples of courageous, successful efforts by parents and the public to strongly support public schools and stand up for students’ success and well-being.

They point out that, just as we are seeing in real-time with Putin’s war on Ukraine, “unchecked disinformation and dehumanization cause untold damage and suffering.”

During this Week of Teacher Appreciation and every week, please thank those who are educating our next generation and consider the ways you can stand for children.