Lt. Governor Simon serves as the state's point person on education reform. In this capacity, Simon is working to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent by 2025. This means strengthening public education at every level. She aims to make our state workforce prepared for the highly skilled jobs of the future to improve employment opportunities, and ensure continued economic growth and viability. Simon participates in various committees that focus on improving learning opportunities for students, advocates for comprehensive college and career-ready education, and supports initiatives that promote high-quality, affordable, higher education. Selected efforts are highlighted below.
P-20 Council’s Joint Education Leadership Committee
Simon serves as the chair of the Joint Education Leadership Committee for the P-20 Council, the state’s top educational advisory body. Unlike other states, Illinois does not have a single official or cabinet position that oversees preschool through higher education efforts. The Joint Education Leadership Committee, whose membership includes top education and workforce agency officials, encourages cross-agency collaboration and cooperation. The committee publishes a report annually.
The Lt. Governor’s Office has also compiled a resource guide that provides an overview of Illinois public education structure, governance, funding, and initiatives. It includes links to additional information and resources.
College Affordability and College Completion
Scaling Up Effective Practices in Higher Education
During 2011 and 2012, Simon toured all of Illinois' 48 community colleges and 12 public university campuses gathering information on college completion initiatives and affordability issues. During her visits, she found that many campuses have developed innovative ways to lower expenses for students while better supporting their paths to college degrees. This October, Simon provided institutions with the information and tools they need to take these best practices across the state. Through her Scaling Up Effective Practices in Higher Education Conference--held in partnership with the Illinois education agencies, Lumina, Microsoft, and Complete College America--52 institutions worked together help each other replicate programs that are working for students.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Office is working with the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board, and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to provide follow-up support and resources for institutions working to implement effective affordability and completion practices. Resources are available here.
College Affordability Summits
During fall 2012, Lt. Governor Simon hosted Affordability Summits at each of the state's 12 public, four-year universities. During each summit, Simon met with students, faculty and administrators to discuss ways to address the rising costs of college - one of the greatest barriers to college accessibility and completion. In February 2013, Simon released a white paper entitled Game Changers: Innovative Practices in Illinois Higher Education which outlines game-changing reforms and innovative practices taking place at public institutions across the state.
Community College Tour
In 2011, Simon met with leaders, faculty and students at each of our state’s 48 community colleges during her Complete College Illinois tour to learn what could be done to ensure community college's meet the completion goal. Drawing from what she learned on that fact-finding tour, Lt. Governor Simon has issued the Focus on the Finish Report to Governor Quinn and the General Assembly, which includes recommendations that can transform the state's community college system and move Illinois closer to the workforce it needs to complete in the global economy.
Complete College America: Team Illinois
Lt. Governor Simon is a member of the state’s Complete College America team, which is working to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates from 43 to 60 percent by 2025.
College Changes Everything Conference
Jointly planned by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, Lt. Governor’s Office, as well as several other state agencies and education stakeholders, this annual conference focuses on effective practices and showcases resources available to help with increasing college access and college completion. One of the strengths of this conference is that it brings together a diverse audience from across the state: college access practitioners; high school leaders, counselors and case managers; college and university leaders and administrators; and policymakers and elected officials interested in higher education. Sessions presented by state and national leaders provide purposeful information and engage the audience in thoughtful discussions on the serious issues we face as Illinois works to reach its goal to increase the proportion of adults in Illinois with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by the year 2025.
Lumina Foundation: Strategy Labs
The Lumina Foundation, a leading education foundation also working to achieve "60 by 2025," selected Lt. Governor Simon to represent Illinois in its College Productivity Strategy Lab network. The Strategy Labs provide technical assistance to policymakers in 22 states, helping them to make progress on the Foundation’s “Four Steps to Finishing First” reform agenda. The steps focus on performance funding, student incentives, new learning models and business efficiencies.
In March, 2012, Simon accompanied Executive Director Jamie Merisotis in Washington, DC as he unveiled Lumina’s latest college attainment report, A Stronger Nation. In addition, Lumina has supported Illinois participation in three Strategy Lab workshops: a study of innovative college completion strategies at the City University of New York; a site visit to the state of Washington to learn how policymakers there are maintaining support for need-based financial aid; and a convening of community college leaders in Indianapolis to craft a national strategy for completion. Information was shared with the Joint Education Leadership Committee, chaired by Simon, which will consider how these efforts can potentially accelerate learning on Illinois campuses.
Classrooms First Commission
Performance Funding Steering Committee
Lt. Governor Simon serves on a committee tasked with creating a performance funding system for community colleges and public universities. The committee is creating institutionally appropriate metrics that will tie some state funding to the achievement of student success milestones and certificate and degree completion goals.
MAP Task Force
In 2012, Simon served on the MAP Task Force, which was created by SJR 69 to deliberate options of new rules for the Monetary Award Program (MAP)—a need-based grant program for college students—with the goal of improving the outcome for students who receive the grants. Findings of the task force were reported to the General Assembly in December of 2012.
P-12 Administrative Efficiency and Program Effectiveness
Lt. Governor Simon served as chairperson of the Classrooms First Commission. Under Public Act 97-0503, the bipartisan commission is comprised of P-12 education stakeholders, including teachers, administrators and parents, and was charged with recommending ways that districts can reduce duplicative administrative spending and improve educational offerings. In June, 2012 the commission completed its work and released a final report entitled Classrooms First Commission: A Guide to P-12 Efficiency and Opportunity. The report contains recommendations to spur school district consolidation and streamline school district operations, with the goal of redirecting $1 billion to classrooms from administration spending.
Service Evaluation Committee
The seven-member Service Evaluation Committee, overseen by Office of the Lt. Governor, is required by 105 ICLS 5/2-3.112 to develop a survey that annually solicits feedback from Illinois school districts on the quality of services provided by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Regional Offices of Education. This survey is used to ensure needed services are being delivered to districts. The 2012 , 2013 and 2014 reports were delivered to the State Board and Regional Offices across the state.