The ISNS Mission since 1995:
1. Inform subscribers. In the early years, ISNS was the only timely source of information on such matters as (a) School Code-amending legislation filed and pending in the Illinois General Assembly; (b) the status of such legislation and likelihood of a high-impact bill to pass; (c) the procedural and/or political factors of why
a bill might pass or stall; and (d) the steps in implementation by ISBE or other agencies of legislation that has been approved by the legislative branch and signed into law by the governor.
2. Deepen understanding of the Illinois policy process, demystifying the it so subscribers can see the political and other dynamics at work in the shaping of state policy that affects the lives of every education professional, every parent, every schoolchild, and every taxpayer. Public education is a pure creature of the statutes,
mostly at the state level.
3. Impose perspective on policy. Some trends are chronological, such as the string linking the publication of A Nation At Risk (1983) to the “standardization” movement (mid-1990s) to the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) and to the current Every Student Succeeds Act. Some trends are geographical, in that a policy shift in New York
or California may have the effect of spreading to other parts of the nation, often swiftly.
4. Advocate for public education. Since April of 1983, there have been plenty of voices engaged in “educator-bashing”; there is no need for ISNS, as an entity in journalism, to join in that activity. My advocacy stems from my earliest experiences as a newspaper reporter (1970) and has never been a secret to ISNS readers.
In fact, my lobbyist training helps me to "frame" controversial issues with the best interests of public schools in mind; this can help subscribers to frame their own statements. ISNS “spin” thus often cascades statewide.
5. Create communication. Occasionally, I ask subscribers (most are educational leaders) for their views on various policy trends and related events, and then present my “findings” in the newsletter. More often, however, subscribers will express themselves freely without being asked, knowing that they will remain
anonymous unless they ask me to reveal them as my “source.” Usually, this stimulates others to share their views with me, with the ISNS audience.
Soon after ISNS was launched, good things began to happen in communication about schools:
School district leaders around Illinois began to discuss pending legislation and political/policy developments with legislators, often using ISNS as a starting point for discussion.
Other sources of state school policy information (such as ISBE and the Statewide School Management Alliance) began to deliver information to their members around the state in a timely manner.
A key difference between ISNS and other sources focused school policy information is, however, this: They have lobbying programs to protect and, therefore, cannot always write in “active voice.”
Links - State Government
Governor of Illinois
Comptroller of Illinois
Illinois General Assembly
Illinois House of Representatives
Illinois State Board of Education
Illinois State Board of Elections
Links - Education Organizations
Illinois Association of School Administrators
Illinois Association of School Business Officials
Illinois Association of School Boards
Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents
Illinois Education Association
Illinois Federation of Teachers
Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education
Illinois Federation for Community Schools
Illinois Resource Center