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For Immediate Release
July 25, 2005

New Illinois Education Excellence Task Force
seeks dialogue with educators, employers and parents
at first public meeting
Meeting set for Tuesday, July 26, in Naperville

Springfield, Ill. –A new dialogue will open between Illinois educators, employers, parents and college administrators when the recently formed Illinois Education Excellence Task Force (IEETF) holds its first public meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 at the Northern Illinois University Naperville campus.

“Far too often, our schools and the places where we earn our livelihoods operate as though they existed in separate universes,” Task Force Chairman Gery Chico said. “We need to bring our school programs and those who hire our graduates into the same discussion so we can better prepare our children for real jobs – and at the same time put Illinois in a better position to retain and attract companies that provide those jobs.”

It is in that spirit that the Task Force has reached out for participation by representatives of the Illinois business and academic communities as well as state government.

The Task Force was announced by Gov. Rod Blagojevich on May 16 when it was formed by Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Jesse Ruiz to seek fresh solutions for the state’s public education challenges.

“Our goal is to provide a high quality and effective education for every Illinois student,” ISBE Chairman Ruiz said. “I am excited about the diverse insights and ideas this Task Force will bring us to help us achieve that goal.”

“We know the demands for more money for our schools,” Chico said. “The purpose of the Task Force’s initial meetings is to open a dialogue that can lead to better preparing Illinois school children for college as well as for productive jobs. That calls for better planning and meaningful cooperation between educators, the people who provide those jobs and the people who run our universities so we’re all on the same page. It only works when everyone’s needs are being met,” Chico said.

“The purpose of an educator is to help each child to achieve his or her enormous potential,” Task Force member Max McGee said. “I look forward to participating in a meaningful and expansive dialogue to explore constructive ways to meet that challenge.”

Members of the Illinois Education Excellence Task Force include:

  • Gery Chico (chairman), Chicago – Chico previously served as President of the Chicago Public Schools. He is law partner at Chico and Nunes LLP in Chicago. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois and his Juris doctorate from Loyola University.
  • Georgia Costello, Belleville – Costello serves as Assistant Superintendent for the St. Clair County Regional Office of Education. In addition, she serves on the Board of Trustees at McKendree College. She has been recognized for her work to support elementary, secondary and higher education. She is a graduate of McKendree College.
  • Sherry Eagle, Aurora West – Eagle retired as Superintendent of West Aurora School District 129 on June 30 after a noted career in which she successfully led the district through a time of dramatic growth. Eagle has received the Quad County Urban League Leadership Award, the Illinois Education Association’s Friend of Education Award, and the Illinois State Board of Education’s “Break the Mold” Superintendent Award. Eagle completed her doctoral studies in Leadership and Educational Policy at Northern Illinois University.
  • Avis Lavelle, Chicago – Lavelle served on the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees. She is a communications professional, having served as vice president of government and public affairs for the University of Chicago hospitals. Lavelle completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois and her post-graduate studies at the Keller School of Management.
  • Glenn “Max” McGee, Wilmette – McGee is currently Superintendent of Wilmette District 39. He previously served as Illinois State Superintendent of Schools. He began his education career working in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and completed his doctorate at the University of Chicago.
  • Lou Mervis, Danville – Mervis is currently Chairman of the Illinois Business Roundtable Education Task Force. He previously served as Chairman of the State Board of Education and is nationally recognized and respected as an advocate for education and prominent Danville businessman.
  • Glenn Poshard, Carbondale – Poshard is a veteran public servant who currently serves on the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Board of Trustees. His education career included teaching in high schools to serving as director of the Southern Illinois Educational Service Center. He has served in the Illinois Senate and the United States Congress. He completed his bachelor’s, masters and doctoral degrees at SIU.
  • Patrick Welch, Peru – Welch practices law in Peru, Illinois. He served many years as a State Senator with noted work in support of economic development, agriculture and the environment. He completed his Juris doctorate at the Illinois Institute of Technology/Kent College of Law.
WHO: Illinois Education Excellence Task Force
WHAT: Open Meeting
WHEN: Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 7 p.m.
WHERE: Northern Illinois University, Naperville -
1120 East Diehl Rd.,
Naperville, IL 60563


1. Public Participation

The Illinois Education Excellence Task Force invites public testimony on the education challenges in Illinois so that we can better prepare our children and all of Illinois to compete in the global economy.

2. Adjournment

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