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October 17, 2003

Distinguished Service Award for Ron Gidwitz

Illinois State Board of Education member Ronald J. Gidwitz will receive the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). The national organization citied Gidwitz’ numerous contributions to education in announcing their selection.

“Ron Gidwitz has demonstrated an extraordinary personal and professional commitment to students in Illinois and across the nation,” said Robert Schiller, Illinois State Superintendent of Education. “We are pleased that his efforts have not gone unnoticed at the national level.”

Gidwitz’ accomplishments include introducing the Students First Foundation, to build an effective grassroots lobbying effort to protect the future of Illinois children and commerce through increased funding for education.

As chairman of ISBE from April 1999-April 2003, Gidwitz was instrumental in establishing the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) – Illinois’ statewide high school assessment that includes the administration of the ACT college entrance exam to all juniors. Under his leadership, board meeting materials were made more accessible to the public. His guidance in improving ISBE’s website helped citizens locate agency information and classroom materials.

A committed advocate for K-12 education, Gidwitz helped provide major funding increases for early childhood education programs that reduced waiting lists for at-risk children. When the No Child Left Behind Act was adopted, Gidwitz developed a student-friendly plan to meet its requirements. He is also credited with updating and improving the Illinois assessment and accountability system.

“Ron Gidwitz exemplifies the best of state and national leadership in education,” said Brenda Wellburn, Executive Director of NASBE. “His strategic vision and practical efforts have profoundly benefited Illinois’ public schools and students. He has been instrumental in expanding educational opportunities for students, increasing teacher qualification, and raising student achievement in the state.”

Gidwitz is also actively involved in numerous civic organizations and serves as chairman of the Chicago City Colleges, chairman of the board of the Field Museum in Chicago, a director of the Chicago Art Institute and of the Rand Corporation, and is the former state and national chairman of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

The award is being presented at NASBE’s annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland, October 16 – 18.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777