Workshops to explain legislation changes

By Linda Luk

NIU partnered with government and school district officials to host a workshop Thursday morning to educate schools and ensure that no child is left behind.

More than 70 educators and administrators from schools throughout the 14th Congressional District attended the workshop regarding new education legislation.

“The ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ is the most sweeping form of legislation since the original elementary and secondary act signed into the law,” said Sunny Penedo-Chico, regional representative for the U.S. Department of Education. “The act focuses on strong standards for reading and math. It has four principles – accountability, parental choice, local control with greater flexibility and workable programs.”

President Bush signed the act on Jan. 8. The new law strives to provide every child in America with a high-quality education.

“Republicans and Democrats work on the legislation together, which is an amazing task,” Penedo-Chico said. “No Child Left Behind is a commitment from the president to assure every child gets a good education through providing the tools to succeed.”

At the workshop, Penedo-Chico presented the history behind the legislation, the importance of the act and how it will impact the state and the school district. She also brought other leaders to speak at the workshop, including Myron Manson, acting division administrator for program support for the Illinois Board of Education, and Lynda Vaughn, principal consultant for the board.

“Talking to congressmen Dennis Hastert, they pulled together this team here today,” said George Gutierrez, community liaison and consultant to the schools on Latino student college preparation for the Office of Admissions. “It is a combination from Congress, Springfield and the region.”

After Penedo-Chico’s presentation, she thought her workshop was very helpful and effective.

“There were a lot of good questions, which makes me believe that the commitment is there,” she said, “but also fear on how it impacts them directly. I hope today it will put some of the fears to rest by providing them with the information and the overall understanding of the law.”

Sandra Anderson, an ESL teacher from Elgin-Larsen Middle School, thought the workshop was very beneficial.

“It answers a lot of questions,” she said. “The most beneficial was learning exactly what the No Child Left Behind Act actually does.”

In addition, Anderson thought the guidelines are very aggressive and a very short amount of time was provided to meet the demands.

“The act was implemented this fall,” Penedo-Chico said. “Any time we have change it’s difficult. We are in the midst of changing cultures with this law and it takes time and patience. The more knowledge we provide, the more tools those who have to implement the law will have.”

The workshop was put together by Gutierrez, whose job includes community liaison and college preparation.

“I question how Latinos are doing in college,” he said. “I found that first-year Latino high school students are reading at a fourth or fifth-grade level. The fact prompted me to question what we can do to help.”

The workshop was made possible through a partnership with Hastert and NIU to bring school administrators to NIU to listen to the explanation of the No Child Left Behind Act.

“It was very good – more than expected,” Gutierrez said. “People who came are interested and have questions. [Penedo-Chico] was very interested and pleased with the outcome of the workshop. I was very satisfied with the response.”

For more information about the new act, visit