Heavy hitters convene to launch statewide education group

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Crystal Room A at the Hyatt Regency Hotel was pulsing with power Tuesday morning as Advance Illinois made its formal debut. The new non-profit organization aims to create a consensus around new policies to improve student achievement in Illinois. Speakers were former Gov. Jim Edgar and former U.S. Commerce Sec. William Daley — co chairs — and CDW Corporation President John Edwardson, Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, Joyce Foundation President Ellen Alberding, 2006-07 Illinois Teacher of the Year Joseph Fatheree and former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Bringing up the rear, the former congressman got the only laugh when he said that at this point in the program, “Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it.”  Other board members are Boeing Co. President James Bell, Illinois Institute of Technology Professor Lew Collens, Urban Education Institute Director Timothy Knowles, Sylvia Puente, Chicago director of the University of Notre Dame Institute of Latino Studies, attorney Charles Rose; State Farm Insurance Chairman Edward B. Rust Jr. and Patricia Watkins, TARGET Area Community Development Corporation. Robin Steans of the Steans Family Foundation is executive director.