President’s Corner

Maricela Arias-Cantu, Daniel Jackson, Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Matthew John Rodriguez, Lisa Garbaty, Vanessa Richardson, and Deb Strauss

We were blessed to meet with quite a few Representatives in the House and both of our Illinois Senator’s offices.

Everyone we met with was SO passionate about kids and families. They were very informative as well as reinforcing that they NEED PTA’s voice to be loud, front, and center, as it has been these 120 years.

HB 899 at the federal level is written to get rid of the Federal Department of Education as of Dec 31, 2018.

HB 610 is written to get rid of the school breakfast and lunch programs, the nutrition requirements (despite Illinois’s 30.6% obesity rate in our kids entering Kindergarten), vouchers, and more.

There are at least 3 bills scaling back on teacher preparation rules. Making it easier for non licensed or appropriately trained teachers to be in charge of our children’s education.

The devastating cuts to Medicaid would lose funding for our school nurses, our aids helping our most vulnerable special needs students, and much more that we do not realize is affected.

Lakeisha Steele, Matthew John Rodriguez, Lisa Garbaty, Deb Strauss, Maricela Arias-Cantu, and Vanessa Richardson

At the state level we are also watching many dangerous bills but one example is HB 443 the voucher bill. (Committee hearing is March 29th at 10am in Springfield) Making it so that the Illinois School Board of Education provide vouchers to fund private and non public schools. Taking away dollars away from already very grossly underfunded public schools. (Note: Families that spend more than $250 a year on non public schools are able to have that expenditure as a tax deduction) in addition to that they are asking to acquire these additional funds from ISBE. What tax incentives do families with public school students get? Right now the bill has 255 opponents and 3 proponents. This is how we can fight. Our voices count!!

I can go on and on but the bottom line is we are under attack and our children and families at the end of the day have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

With our 115th year anniversary underway, I want to tell you we are fighting as fiercely as ever! Sometimes the right thing is not the popular thing but our children and families deserve to be defended and be provided with the best possible future they can have. Our entire team is dedicated to you. You may ask why does your membership matter? The answer is because we all need a champion in our corner to fight when we are down and we all need people around us to fight the good fight even when we are up. Your membership matter because it’s your voice in all these crucial matters that we carry with us at every meeting across the state and country. That’s why it matters. United together we provide a stronger impact. Your voice matters, EVERY voice matters. EVERY CHILD ONE VOICE!!!

Don’t forget to come to our annual convention April 7, 8 at the Hilton in Lisle. Our guest speaker will be The Illinois Secretary of Education, Beth Purvis.

Here to serve,

Matthew John Rodriguez
Illinois PTA President

President’s Corner

As the year continues, I know everyone is really busy with this year’s school activities. The Illinois PTA has worked with the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative for many years and I would like to encourage you to have your children write about their favorite Male role model.

All children from grades K-12 can now enter this awesome yearly contest and express why their father, step-father, uncle, grandfather, father figure, or what their perfect father figure would be. Please share this with all of your units. The date has been extended to March 15th so ACT NOW.

I hope all of you enjoy this contest as much as I do. Attached is the contest rules, entry form and instructions. If you would like to be involved in judging the entries please do not hesitate to let me know at subject title: Essay.

I would also like to encourage you not to be discouraged if you have not met your membership numbers yet. Our Membership Director Julie Holdeman, is here to help with ideas, communication, and resources. She will be hosting the free webinar Rejuvenate Your Membership: A Mid-Year Push of 2017! on February 20th at 1pm and 7pm.

Take advantage of the final months of the school year. Winter is a great time to rejuvenate your membership campaign by reaching out to retain past PTA members, board members or staff and to welcome new members to your PTA. One process or attempt to gain members is not effective in retaining or growing your membership. Illinois PTA is happy to offer this webinar with ideas to reach out and welcome new members to your PTA.  This webinar will address:

  • Myths of why people don’t join or have misconceptions about the PTA and how we can reach out to them
  • How to promote your past, current, and future programs, events, resources or services provided.
  • Host a PTA “Refer A Friend” Challenge
  • Host a “Thank PTA” campaign- thru membership
  • And more ideas to try with your PTA.

Learn about how your PTA could be entered to win an IL PTA Membership Incentive.  PTA members are the driving force of our association. Your local unit needs members as leaders, volunteers, & proud supporters. Illinois and National PTA needs every member to build a constituency, giving us influence to advocate for positive legislation for our children. Help our numbers grow so that we can all make an even larger impact for our children and families.

President’s Corner


With Thanksgiving behind us I hope you all had a chance to share some family time and are able to plan for the upcoming Holidays, which are right around the corner.  Even though we all would like to take a time out, there are many things happening across the state that I would like to share with you.

As you know we have been heavily involved with the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act replacement for NCLB no child left behind). I have asked for parents to provide comments and feedback of the good, bad, and things they would like to see different at We have a new deadline for comments, which is Dec 27th, 2016.

What I am very proud of is the work and collaboration between agencies that has taken place. Both the State Board Of Ed and the Governor’s office have been very open and inviting to all stakeholders across the state for their comment and suggestions. Instead of working in the typical silos we are all working together.

However, with that said THIS is our opportunity as parents to establish the next 10 years of our children’s future and get it right. Our voices are important! Your feedback is critical!! Let’s ensure we have been heard because our children deserve a better future and outcome.

I also want to highlight that legislatively enacted was a commission called IBAM (Illinois Balanced Accountability Measure). Their charge is to ensure there is a good accountability system in place throughout the state’s education system. We have been working very hard and the draft of the quality framework can be found also on ISBE’s site at  Standard 6 is Family and Community Engagement which is where we are currently reviewing and making recommendations.

We also have been working on strengthening partnership throughout the state with like-minded agencies. I want to share what the Chicago Public Libraries are doing and if you don’t have something similar in your area maybe we can have those discussions on how to share resources to get these examples around the state instead of re-inventing the wheel.

CPL’s Winter Learning Challenge is coming up shortly and it would be a great program to highlight!

This winter break, Chicago Public Library is excited to present the 2016-2017 Winter Learning Challenge: Mix it Up!  From December 19 through January 9, children are encouraged to explore chemistry as they read, discover and create. Children can visit to find book suggestions special programs and hands-on activities that explore chemistry and the properties of matter. From creating slime to making bubble solution to cooking with an adult, children will get their hands dirty as they learn about the world around them. Log sheets in English and Spanish are available on the website. In order to complete the challenge, children need to read for at 20 minutes a day for at least 5 days and draw or write about an activity they did. Completed logs can be brought to a neighborhood library by January 17 for a special prize.

We all know reading and expanding opportunites is crucial to our children’s success. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to offer something like this to ALL the children across the state?

Hopefully you are also on our Advocacy list and have received our communication on our Call to Action. Lead in the water SB 550, need of passing a budget that is comprehensive and fully funded for our Illinois families and children, as well as, energy drinks not being sold to minors HB 5726 are key issues in our state.

Some PTA’s have an environmental committee and to those chairs I would like to share my experience at Standing Rock in North Dakota. It was a humbling experience to see, hear, and witness a different culture and way of life. You can reach me at for more details if you would like.

Have a blessed, happy, safe, and healthy holiday season.

Here to serve,

Matthew John Rodriguez

IL PTA President




President’s Corner

I can’t believe it is already November. Time passes SO fast. I hope all of you are having an awesome year.

I just wanted to let you know the Illinois PTA has 7 open grant opportunities for local PTAs to host a presentation on Learning Hero Resources and Illinois testing standards. These presentations can be in English and/or Spanish and are available through need to be presented by the end of November 2016. As an incentive, if your PTA is among the first 10 selected for the presentation you will receive $200 to be used for promotion and refreshments for the event.
If you are interested please reach out to your district/region director so we can get you on the schedule.

Here to serve,
Matthew John Rodriguez