President’s Corner


Last week marks a new day in history, as our new President has been elected. However, our vision, mission, and charge is still the same. We have to ensure every child’s potential becomes reality and no matter who is in office. We must stand up and fight for that to happen.

As you know, we represent you on many committees at the local, state, and federal education levels throughout the State and in doing so we will stay true to our mission. I was representing you last week at the IBAM (Illinois Balance Assessment Measure) committee meeting. During that meeting, Sara Boucek of the Illinois School Administrators Association, said it best. She said that “working together for the best accountability measure for the state has not changed.”

To that fact the Illinois PTA will continue our important work and move forward with our Mission. Our children’s safety, health, education, and well-being will continue to be the central focus as I and your board represent you.

Thank you ALL for all of the work that you do every day at every level of this association!


Here to serve,

Matthew John Rodriguez
Illinois PTA President

President’s Corner

With Constitution and Citizenship Day approaching on September 16th itMFMpicThe Black Star Project’s Million Father March will be happing in cities across the Country on September 15th.

The Million Father March is an opportunity for Black men to show their commitment to the educational lives of their children on the first day of school and throughout the school year.

The importance of male engagement has been one of my focuses around the State.  Taking your child to the first day of school doesn’t cost anything, but the reward in return is so valuable that no dollar figure can be put on it.


September 16th is Citizenship Day. As you may know, the new Graduation requirements now include one semester of Civics coursework. unknown

Former Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, David J. Shestokas has published a book to help parents and educators present crucial citizenship information in a way that speaks to students of the 21st century.

The book has been published in English and Spanish.  More on the English language version can be found here, and the Spanish at this link.

More on the author can be found here, and more about Spanish language collaborator Dr Berta Arias can be found here.


Engaging and Supporting Military Families

Next I said we would continue to give you pieces of the NPTA Convention so I want to highlight another fantastic workshop that was presented.  Engaging and Supporting Military Families.

This workshop was so informative. It gives us insight on things I have never considered before. Some are heartbreaking.  The workshop discusses subjects like:

  • How hard the transition can be for not only the kids but the moms and/or dads moving from place to place. All have to make new friends and need support through the transition.
  • Why we shouldn’t take offense to the wives or husbands not being able to talk about their spouses whereabouts or what they do because it’s classified information that they can’t talk about.
  • The impact on kids and families of not knowing if their mom or dad is going to come home from their tour; and
  • Informed us that most are not able to join social media sites or share their personal information due to security reason.

We have a lot of schools starting and we can increase our membership and make our communities stronger by keeping an open mind and remembering that we don’t know each other’s challenges but everyone needs someone by their side.

We are an inclusive association. Everyone has different needs and wants but as long as we are respectful and have an open heart we can get through anything TOGETHER! Every Child One Voice. Sí se puede!

Here to serve,

Matthew John Rodriguez

Illinois PTA President

President’s Corner

We are happy to inform you that AIM now has a new type of coverage. Social Media Liability Coverage is a new product available if you have any worries about social media liability. As exemplary digital media citizens we sometimes don’t realize that the words we or others use may open us up to an unexpected liability. I encourage you all to look into this new product and determine if this is something appropriate for your unit. Below is an example of the form that needs to be completed should you choose to participate.

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At the National PTA Convention we were honored to have several keynote speakers. Julie Lythcott-Haims was a previous Stanford University Dean of Freshman speaking on the subject of helicopter parenting. In her book “How to Raise An Adult” she explains how we suffocate and stifle our children’s ability to be independent adults.

Here is an example of her discussion in Glenbrook, IL:

The National PTA and Scholastic have joined forces with Learning Heroes to do a national study on what parents really need as resources. After listening to parents across the nation, 75% of parents believe that educationally the biggest worry is are their children prepared for college or a good career? Over half are worried about not being able to afford college. With this information we will be doing a series of presentations regarding the Super 5 which are ACTIONABLE tips for parents to use. We will also be on the radio Thursday,  August 18th at 2:00pm. Resources are available in English and Spanish.

Another opportunity I wanted to let you know about is a movie screening of the Screenagers Movie. If you find yourself wondering how our youth will make it with SO much screen time, stay safe, and learn check out this trailer.


Here to serve,

Matthew John Rodriguez
Illinois PTA President

President’s Corner

The Barrior Projectimage3428721

I’m very excited to announce the opening of the The Barrio Project Play on August 11th. Hope to see all of you there. Click Here for a short intro on the play.

National Convention Roundup

We had an amazing time at the national conference in Orlando. Not only did we meet with the leaders world-wide we were able to learn and receive a ton of information. First with new resolutions that were passed. As you have seen in our blog articles the topics were on

  • Electronic Cigarettes and electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and youth Studies have shown that the use of e-cigarettes by students 6-12 grade have triples in the past year.
  • Homework Quality Over Quantity – Quality homework has proven to be most effective when it’s states clear objectives, relevant to students, and are grade/age appropriate.
  • Recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGTBQ) individuals as a Protected Class. All children and youth should have a safe environment free from discrimination. Federal statues does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Water Safety and Instruction – As of 2009 children drowning is third highest cause of death of youth under 19. 2nd is motor vehicle accidents and the number one cause is is suffocation in children 4 and younger.

More information is available here. 

I intend on sharing specific workshop take aways in future editions. From everyone’s feedback all of the workshops had great information so we will share with you as much as we can.

Local Unit Packet

The Local Unit Packet is out (LUP) and I hope all of you have had a chance to review the contents and share it with your board members. Please let us know if there are additional things you would like included and if there is something you would like to see changed. With SO many different needs across the state our intention is to be as thorough as we can be.

Illinois PTA in Action

In regard to other happenings throughout the state we have been participating in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recommendations to the general assembly. ISBE was looking for open comment by August 1st and we also made a statement on the national level. The best time to have your voices heard is before things become law so I hope all of you had a chance to make your comments and or suggestions. If you didn’t get that chance for some reason please send your comments, questions, and concerns to me at so we can have your thoughts included in these last sessions coming up. The next meeting is Monday August 15th at 9am. H.B. 5729 deals with college and career readiness which the governor has signed into law. We can make comments on the national level until May 25, 2017.

The Illinois Attendance Commission is another committee we are on and we have made our presentation and recommendations on the information contained in the Every Student, Every Day Initiative – toolkit. All cooperating agencies will be gathering resources to make a master list to share with everyone. I am excited to be able to see this commission grow from the truancy task force. We all know that this is a high stakes situation and we need to do what we can to make every child’s future successful.

ISBE has a committee on an educator dashboard. The intention is to make a database of highly qualified teachers and resources for them. This is still in the development pilot phase.

Illinois PTA also met with John J. Cullerton President of the Senate in Illinois. We discussed several non-profit challenges supporting children and families and the latest bill that past on new civic learning requirements H.B. 4025.

Yesterday we met with Senator Kirk’s Washington D.C. staff. I provided them with a version of the LUP and our legislative priorities along with information on our national ask of funding Title IV: Statewide Family Engagement Centers Part E.

As you get ready to start your school year remember that we are here as a resource and need to hear from you. Let us know the successes you are celebrating and your activities throughout the state. I look forward to hearing and participating in your activities. Thank you all for everything you do every day.

Here to serve,

Matthew John Rodriguez

Illinois PTA President