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Illinois Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker names well-connected educators to transition team

Chicago Tribune

Two big names in education, former Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz and early-childhood expert Barbara Bowman, have been named to the transition team of governor-elect J.B. Pritzker.

Pritzker made the announcement a day after his 15-point victory over incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Ruiz will serve as counsel to the transition team. He has served as interim CEO at the school district and previously chaired the Illinois State Board of Education. He is a partner at national law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath, and president of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners.

Bowman co-founded the Erikson Institute, a child development graduate school in Chicago. She will serve as one of Pritzker’s transition team’s co-chairs. Bowman is the mother of Valerie Jarrett, who was former President Barack Obama’s senior advisor.

Besides their experience in education, both Ruiz and Bowman have strong ties in government and politics. They join a transition team that packs political clout: former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan, state Rep. Christian Mitchell, nonprofit director Sol Flores, and business executives Michael Sacks and Marty Nesbitt.

The transition team will be led by Juliana Stratton, who will become Illinois’ first African-American lieutenant governor.

Once the Democratic victor takes office in January, he will face a host of critical public education issues, from the mental health needs of students and teachers, to a dire educator shortage, to finding the funding required to help the state’s struggling districts.

Chalkbeat Chicago compiled a list of eight big issues Pritzker will have to tackle as governor. You can read that here.

If you’re an educator, do you have a suggestion for what the next governor should know about your school?

Let us know here.

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