January 24, 2006

Media Advisory – Springfield Symposium

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover a one-day symposium, "Eliminating Illinois' Educational Achievement Gap," set for 9 a.m. on Monday, March 27, at the Springfield Hilton Hotel, 700 E. Adams St. A diverse group of key advocates, consumers, practitioners, public policy makers and researchers from across the state will explore the educational achievement gap among students from elementary school to college.

The Illinois African-American Family Commission is sponsoring the symposium, in cooperation with the Illinois African-American Family Research Institute and Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Seymour Bryson, SIUC's associate chancellor for diversity, is a member of the 15-member commission, which guides and collaborates with state agencies to develop and improve community programs that will address the needs of African-American children and families.

The presentations will look at a variety of issues including the Illinois Standardized Test and Prairie State Achievement Exam, cultural competency for teachers, and education equity.

Illinois State Superintendent of Education Randy J. Dunn is the keynote speaker in the morning session, which starts at 9 a.m. Philip Jackson, executive director of the Chicago-based Black Star Project, is among the presenters during the 12:45 p.m. session that will examine programs that are succeeding in reversing the achievement gap.

Panelists during the day include state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, state Rep. William Davis, D-Hazel Crest; state Rep. Monique D. Davis, D-Chicago; Terry Nunn, deputy director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education; Paul E. Cross, superintendent, regional office of education for Hamilton and Jefferson counties; and Anthony Neal, principal of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's East St. Louis Charter School.

A working group will convene after the symposium ends at 2:20 p.m. to compile a list of recommendations for change to help close the achievement gap. The recommendations will be posted on the Illinois African American Family Commission and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute's Web sites, and presented to members of the Illinois General Assembly and State Board of Education.