For Immediate Release
January 24, 2011

State Board Members Selected to Serve on National Education Committees

Board members playing key roles as national policies are being developed

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education announced today that four board members have been selected to serve on several National Association of State Boards of Education committees and a study group to assist in steering the development of education policy at the national level. Jesse H. Ruiz, Dr. Christopher J. Ward, Lanita J. Koster and Dr. David L. Fields will work with other state education leaders, federal lawmakers, national policymakers and education reform experts.

“It is very important for the State of Illinois to be represented at the national level with all of the education reforms under discussion, including the anticipated reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” Ruiz said. “I am very honored to represent the State Board and our state as we continuously aim to improve education for every student.”

ISBE Chairman Jesse H. Ruiz of Chicago was chosen to serve on the NASBE Governmental Affairs Committee. As a member of the committee, Ruiz will help plan for federal education policies. Ruiz was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2004 and reappointed in 2007.

In its efforts to affect national education policymaking, NASBE works to ensure that it represents the views of its members to the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, as well as to associations representing governors, state legislators, school administrators, principals, local school boards, teachers and parents.

“In this time when many education budgets remain unstable and there has been substantial turnover in political leadership, it is critical that lawmakers in Washington and at the state level understand the vital and sustained role of state boards of education,” said NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn.

ISBE Vice Chair Dr. Christopher J. Ward of Shorewood was chosen to serve on NASBE’s Teacher Preparation, Evaluation, Continuation and Compensation Study Group. A report on the group’s findings along with recommendations for state policy will be released in the fall. Ward was first appointed to the State Board of Education in 2004.

ISBE board member Lanita J. Koster of Chicago will serve on NASBE’s Public Policy Positions Committee. The committee solicits public policy positions from among the association’s membership. Koster was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2008.

ISBE board member Dr. David L. Fields of Danville was selected to serve on NASBE’s Distinguished Service Award Committee, which selects state board members to honor for outstanding contributions to education. Fields was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2004 and reappointed in 2007.

NASBE is a nonprofit association based in Arlington, Va., that represents state and territorial boards of education. For more information, visit

The State Board of Education consists of nine members who are appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate. The board sets educational policies and guidelines for public and private schools, preschool through grade 12, as well as vocational education. It analyzes the aims, needs and requirements of education and recommends legislation to the General Assembly and Governor for the benefit of the more than 2 million schoolchildren in Illinois.