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For Immediate Release
August 11, 2005

Illinois State Board of Education names Randy Dunn
State Superintendent
Board extends Dunn’s contract through January 2007

Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois State Board of Education has named Randy J. Dunn to serve as State Superintendent of Education through January 31, 2007. Dunn has served as Interim Superintendent since September of 2004, and the Board’s action removes Dunn’s interim status. The State Superintendent in Illinois serves as the state’s chief education officer for elementary and secondary education.

“We are pleased with the great progress we’ve made in reforming education in Illinois with Randy leading the agency,” said Chairman Jesse H. Ruiz. “His experience, commitment to act quickly and proven ability to effectively address the Governor’s priorities position him as the best person to lead the important work of the Illinois State Board of Education.”

Dunn has led ISBE’s efforts over the last ten months to address Gov. Blagojevich’s top priorities for reforming education in Illinois. There has been a clear focus on eliminating the agency’s chronic problems in serving Illinois schools, including error-filled School Report Cards, a massive teacher certification backlog and hundreds of pages of unnecessary rules and regulations that plague schools.

“I applaud the State Board of Education for naming Randy Dunn as State Superintendent. Since last September he has focused on doing the right thing for kids and working on the top priorities I laid out when I named the new State Board last year,” said Governor Rod R. Blagojevich. “Randy has worked with the State Board to achieve our goals of improving the way we educate Illinois children and working with local schools and teachers, instead of against them. I look forward to continuing to work with him and the State Board of Education to improve education in Illinois.”

Dunn began his education career as a fourth grade teacher in Gibson City, Illinois. He later moved into administration, serving as principal for two schools in central Illinois and later as Superintendent of the Argenta-Oreana Community and Chester Community School Districts. Dunn’s education background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Reading and a Master’s in Education. He began his studies in broadcasting and later switched to elementary education. He has made teaching children to read a focus of his career ever since. Dunn is on leave from SIUC as Chair of the department of Education Administration and Higher Education.

ISBE’s accomplishments under Dunn’s leadership include:

High Quality Preschool Programming

With a commitment by Governor Blagojevich and the leadership of Superintendent Randy Dunn, Illinois was recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) as having one of the strongest state-run, early childhood programs in the nation. The NIEER study gave Illinois a score of nine out of a possible 10 for quality, making it one of only three states to receive a nine or higher. Illinois was recognized because of its rigorous requirements for preschool teachers, low staff-child ratios of 1:10, vision, hearing and health screening/referral requirements, and the comprehensiveness of its preschool curriculum standards.

The new State Board took action prohibiting state-funded preschools from denying undocumented immigrants access to their programs. The need for action came to light after the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund asked the new Illinois State Board of Education and Governor’s Office to intervene on behalf of a child denied access to a preschool operating in an Illinois public school building, and is consistent with a 1982 Supreme Court decision guaranteeing immigrant and non-English speaking children the right to free public education.

The State Board also launched a Latino Preschool Outreach Campaign to ensure that all children in the state have access to high-quality, preschool education. State Board staff held a series of community meetings to encourage Latino organizations to apply for preschool slots in Cicero/Berwyn, Aurora, and Elgin; more than 100 constituents attended. State Board staff, community members, and the Ounce of Prevention Fund participated to offer their support and assistance in the effort.

Higher Standards for High School Graduation

Recognizing that Illinois has some of the lowest high school graduation requirements in the country, Superintendent Dunn worked alongside Governor Blagojevich and members of the General Assembly to pass legislation that would increase requirements in the core subject areas. With the passage of SB 575, by 2012 all students will be required to take one additional year each of science, English and math. Students will also be required to take two writing-intensive classes, algebra, and geometry.

By creating higher expectations for graduation, students will do better in school and Illinois high school graduates will be better prepared to pursue higher education and to succeed in their careers. Higher standards will also improve the quality of Illinois’ workforce, allowing it to meet the demands of current and potential Illinois employers.

Reform and Accountability

Last September Illinois’ teacher certification backlog was massive with thousands of applications waiting processing. Added to that, teachers had to navigate a complex maze of forms and paperwork, and contend with multiple layers of bureaucracy, in order to be recertified. Since that time the agency has totally eliminated the backlog. In addition, the agency has refocused its efforts on improving customer service and has implemented a plan to ensure that a certification backlog never develops again.

School Report Cards

Working closely with local districts, the new State Board was able to correct errors in School Report Card data affecting more than half of all Illinois schools. The corrections avoided a repeat of problems experienced under the old leadership at ISBE, when over 400 schools suffered No Child Left Behind sanctions after having been mislabeled as not meeting federal standards due to incorrect data on cards.

Partnering with the PTA and the Governor’s Office, the State Board also designed a new “snapshot” of School Report Cards that provides the information parents want to know about their schools in an easy-to-read format. These snapshots were designed based on input provided by hundreds of parents who participated in an online survey.

Reduced Red Tape

Under the leadership of Superintendent Dunn, the new State Board has worked hard toward changing its relationship with local districts, and reducing rules and regulations that tie the hands of school administrators and educators. The Board launched a regulation overhaul, which has already identified and proposed the elimination of almost 400 pages. In addition, the agency created an email address,, to solicit constituent input throughout the process. School administrators, educators and parents have shared with the Board their ideas on where red tape can be cut, and the agency has already acted on a number of those proposals.

Helped districts save money
Responding to the Governor's call to create savings opportunities for local school districts, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) launched the Illinois School Purchasing Network. The network offers all school districts in Illinois access to high-quality products at some of the best available government prices.

Expanded meal subsidies to 40,000 more children

By creating a collaborative partnership between the Illinois State Board of Education and the Department of Human Services, eligibility for reimbursement of nutritious meals to home childcare providers was significantly expanded. As a result 19,000 home childcare providers will now be able to offer healthy meals and snacks to the more than 40,000 children in their care.

Preserved tutoring programs for 40,000 students

Last year 11 school districts in Illinois received notification from the US Department of Education that they would have to shut down their district-run tutoring programs. The new Illinois State Board of Education and Superintendent Dunn worked quickly to negotiate an agreement with the USDOE, even traveling to Washington D.C., in order to preserve the important tutoring programs that serve more than 40,000 low-income students in Illinois.

Improved oversight of NCLB tutoring

The State Board recently adopted a comprehensive plan to increase the agency's oversight of private tutoring as required under No Child Left Behind. Illinois' regulation of tutoring providers will now be among the most comprehensive in the country. With the heightened oversight, parents will know that their children are being tutored by proven providers who can bring about the best results.

The extension to Superintendent Dunn’s contract is effective September 20, 2005. Illinois law requires that the Superintendent’s contract expire at the end of the incumbent Governor’s term.


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