When the IHSA invited us to write a column explaining the role and mission of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), I called
upon my long-ago career as a sports editor to try and find a proper analogy for Porter’s Corner. In team sports terms, the IASA is like a center in football, a setter in volleyball or a point guard in basketball – an organization that plays a key leadership role as a facilitator in the pursuit of educational excellence.
The IASA is a statewide organization of more than 2,000 members that represents public school superintendents and other school administrators. It has a history of being the state’s premier advocacy organization for school administrators dating back to 1946. In terms of the IASA’s consistent excellence and staying power, think of Elmhurst York in cross country, Hinsdale Central in tennis, New Trier in swimming and diving, Granite City in soccer, Joliet Catholic in football, Mother McAuley in volleyball or the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Scholastic Bowl.
Dr. Brent Clark is the executive director of the IASA and brings a wealth of experience to that leadership role having served as a public school teacher, coach and principal before becoming school superintendent at Thompsonville, Benton and Belleville. The IASA has flourished under Dr. Clark’s leadership, especially in the areas of mentoring new superintendents, providing legal guidance and assistance, professional development of school administrators and developing a strong, unified voice on legislative issues affecting public education in Illinois.
This past year, major legislative issues included forced consolidation of school districts, budget cuts and the passage of one of the most sweeping education reform packages in the state’s history.
Dr. Clark was appointed to the “Classrooms First” Commission being chaired by Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon to study the consolidation issue as well as other means of achieving efficiencies in public education. One of the IASA’s main concerns related to consolidation is that it should be an issue decided at the local level, not mandated by the state.
The IASA was part of the negotiating process that led to passage of Senate Bill 7, the comprehensive education reform package signed into law during the summer. Simply put, one of the main items in the bill was to make performance rather than seniority the predominant factor in hiring, firing and granting of tenure. The lynchpin to its success will be the process of evaluating teachers, and the IASA is committed to playing a major role in providing training in that process.
In addition to the legal, legislative and professional development services that the IASA provides to its membership, another of its roles is to try and spread the word about some of the great, progressive programs being implemented throughout the state. Titled “Blueprints for Success,” those stories are available on the IASA website (www.iasaedu.org) and include programs like:
· * A successful anti-bullying program in Rochester that has gained national attention.
· * A program in the Mendon school district not only to get laptops in the hands of students, but to utilize technology to change the face of teaching and learning in a way that is on the cutting edge nationally.
· * A new approach in the Skokie elementary district, where more than 50 different languages are spoken, to help English Language Learning students become successful.
· * A community outreach program in Des Plaines that has built community trust.
The IASA website includes all sorts of information useful to school administrators or anyone who has an interest in what’s going on in public education. The menu of information includes daily education headlines and stories from around the state, white papers and press releases on hot issues affecting education and podcasts among other items.
The IASA also is part of an educational Alliance that includes the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO), all statewide organizations committed to the same vision as IASA, which is to maximize educational success for all students. The IASA also is pleased to include Dr. Marty Hickman, executive director of the IHSA, among its consultants to its statewide Board of Directors.
We would like to thank the IHSA for the opportunity to share some information about the IASA. If anyone would like further information, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 217-753-2213. Best wishes to everyone for a great finish to the 2011-12 school year!
IASA Director of Communications
The IASA will hold its annual conference in Springfield on April 25-27.