Representative Luis Gutierrez
He serves on the prestigious House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  He is a senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, serving as the Chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the 111th Congress and as the Ranking Member of the Housing, Insurance, and Community Opportunity Subcommittee in the 112th Congress.  He is also the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Married and both a father and grandfather, Rep. Gutierrez was born and raised in Chicago to parents who had themselves migrated to Chicago from Puerto Rico in the early 1950s.  He previously served as an Alderman in the City of Chicago and has been a teacher, a social worker and a cab driver, among other diverse experiences.  Read Rep. Gutierrez' full bio.  You can also learn more about Rep. Gutierrez on his website Congressman Gutierrez, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

1.  Is there legislation you’ve introduced or supported that is important for community schools?
Community schools play a critical role in serving my constituents and meeting our communities' education needs, particularly in underserved neighborhoods and communities. Often times in education policy, when we think of education aide we focus on early childhood education and or on post secondary education assistance, like student aide and subsidized student loans.  These are two very critical periods for students.  But Elev8, by bringing together schools, families and other community partners in low-income areas to create these community learning centers, focuses on making sure that kids are successful in navigating the trying years between early education and post-secondary education.
 
Community schools have been very effective in Chicago.  The program taps into community resources to ensure that children have the tools they need to be successful in the classroom and that their families are prepared and equipped to support their learning experience.  Students and their families have access to a variety of services from tutoring to health screenings and dental care and English classes. These services help to relieve some of the burdens facing our disadvantaged youth and help to level the playing field for them.
 
Community schools are becoming an increasingly popular model around the country and I am glad to support the movement. I am proud to cosponsor a bill introduced by my friend and colleague Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the Full-Service Community Schools Act of 2011 (H.R. 1090).  This bill would authorize a U.S. Department of Education grant program to significantly expand the number of full-service community schools across our nation.  The bill would fund grants for local partnerships between school districts and community-based organizations, and would also fund grants for states to expand the full-service community school model at the state level.  The bill also includes set-aside funding for rural school districts, which have historically faced challenges in accessing nationwide competitive grant programs.  This is a good bill that supports community schools and I am happy to offer my support for it.
 

2.  How does diversity support student success?
Fostering a diverse learning environment plays a critical role in ensuring student success, because at one time or another, every kid feels like an outsider or different.  Growing up in Chicago, I was treated differently because I was Puerto Rican and later, going to high school in Puerto Rico, I was treated differently and called "Americanito."  I believe it is important for children to have role models and prominent figures they can learn from and aspire to be more like that come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.  Young people learn values and establish positive goals from the people in their lives and they help them reach towards success and steer them on a road that will lead them forward.  It is important that our youth are exposed to a variety of people, both those who are different than them and those who may be seen as similar.  That is why a diverse environment is so important in helping our students be successful, so that children of every culture, every nationality, every socioeconomic background, and every walk of life can see themselves as becoming successful.
 
3.  What role can engaging parents or the broader community play in student success?
There are so many factors that contribute to a student's success as they progress through their educational career.  It is important that students have the tools they will need, like access to resources, safe schools, engaging teachers, and a challenging curriculum.  However, without parental support, guidance, and active involvement in their child's education, I believe it becomes much more challenging for students to achieve to their full potential.  There are decades of research supporting the notion that students succeed best when their parents are actively engaged in their education.  For many families, this is difficult because of the stress and strain of daily life.  This is why community schools are so crucial for students as a way of engaging parents in their education and a way of augmenting the education for students who may not have a high level of family involvement in their school life.  We all know the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child," but community schools put that phrase into action when implementing their programs.  Our children, our families, and all of us benefit from their approach.
 
Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth
State Representative Jehan Gordon was born and raised in Peoria County. She graduated from Limestone High School in Bartonville and attended Parkland Community College and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she majored in Speech Communications. Jehan is also a graduate of U.S. Senator Barack Obama's Campaign and Leadership Training program and the Peoria Chamber of Commerce's Political Leadership School. Read Rep. Gordon-Booth's full bio

1.  What role can engaging parents or the broader community play in student success?

Engaging parents in their child's education is vital to student success and achievement. While teachers and schools are responsible for teaching children reading, writing, and arithmetic, parents are very influential in other ways. Parents instill in their children the importance of education, discipline, and respect by helping with their homework and taking an interest in what they are learning in the classroom.  


When students know that parents care about their education they are more likely to try to find success in school. Students will be more likely to have a good attendance rate, complete homework, study for tests, participate in extracurricular activities and more. Engaged parents help children succeed not only in school, but also in the world after high school and college. These are the students who will educate the next generation, make scientific discoveries, start new, innovative companies and be leaders in the community.
 

2.  What are three critical things kids need to learn, outside of core subjects?
Respect. In school, I would occasionally get in trouble for talking too much in class, which happens to many of our students. However, when I was reprimanded or given a punishment by my teacher, I quietly accepted and respected their decision. The teachers and adults in my classrooms were authority figures. I was taught to respect them and their decisions by my parents.
 
While parents, family and friends should be teaching students respect on a daily basis, this is something that can be reinforced in our schools as well. In elementary school this might mean that students are taught to say please and thank you. In high school, students may need to be taught how to shake hands with someone they meet; how to look at people square in the eye when they are speaking; and how to talk with college admissions officers or potential employers. These life skills, revolving around respectful behavior, will help students succeed when they are no longer in an academic setting.
 

Curiosity. Students should want to learn more about the world around them. In school this may mean that they do extra research for a project, but once they are outside the classroom it will mean they put a little extra effort in their assignment at work. Curiosity will always help students grow and learn regardless of where they are in life.
 
Cooperation. Very few things get done when people refuse to work together. Every day we work with a number of different people at our jobs. If we don’t work together to finish a presentation, write legislation and more, then it is very hard to effectively finish the task at hand. I know that I value being able to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and when we work together that the biggest problems can be addressed.


How does diversity support student success?
Diversity is very important to student success. When a classroom has a diverse student body, students have the ability to learn about a variety of cultures and lifestyles. This enhances the learning environment. While studying geography or history, students can share their families’ experiences and give a different perspective than the textbook is able to give. Learning in a diverse environment also helps students learn how to work with people who have different beliefs and cultures. In a world that is becoming more globalized every day, having a first-hand understanding of other cultures will help students succeed outside of the classroom.
More about Representative Gordon-Booth

State Representative Jehan Gordon was born and raised in Peoria County. She graduated from Limestone High School in Bartonville and attended Parkland Community College and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she majored in Speech Communications. Jehan is also a graduate of U.S. Senator Barack Obama's Campaign and Leadership Training program and the Peoria Chamber of Commerce's Political Leadership School.

Jehan entered public service by becoming an AmeriCorp VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) worker at Illinois Central College (ICC). During her tenure, she worked with a variety of faith-based and community-based organizations where she developed relationships and identified funding opportunities for programs benefiting local residents. Following her service with the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Jehan was hired by ICC to coordinate retention programs to ensure that students are successful in school.  Prior to becoming state representative, Jehan served on the Pleasant Hill School District #69 Board. She also serves on the board of Friends of People with AIDS and volunteers for Junior Achievement.

Jehan serves on the House Committees on Access to Federal Funding, Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations, Human Services Appropriations, Health and Healthcare Disparities, Infrastructure and Veterans’ Affairs.  Jehan Gordon represents the 92nd Representative District, which includes all or portions of Peoria, Peoria Heights, West Peoria, Bartonville, Edwards, Norwood, Kickapoo and Bellevue. 
Learn more about Rep. Gordon-Booth here.

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