Rep. Jakobsson appointed to Education Commission of the States

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-103, was recently appointed as an Illinois delegate to the Education Commission of the States. During her time as an Illinois representative, Jakobsson said she has championed higher education. She has served as a chairwoman of the House Committee on Higher Education and a member of the Appropriations-Higher Education Committee.

Despite her work in higher education, Jakobsson said it is important to understand that the commission works in all levels of education — from preschool to post-secondary school to the workforce.

“As many of us know, there are so many people who start out in higher education pursuing a degree and they may find that they’re running into difficulty because they’re not very well prepared,” Jakobsson said. “That’s why we go back and bring in K-12 issues and even before that, the pre-k issues. This organization is one that recognizes that and makes sure that we see the whole picture.”

As a national organization, ECS serves to provide policymakers around the country with information about education policy, she said.

“The purpose of (ECS) is to help states develop effective policies and practices for public education and sometimes that’s done (by) looking at data, research, analysis and leadership that might have already taken place in another state,” Jakobsson said.

Heidi Normandin, associate of communications for ECS, said for most delegates, the appointment to ECS is secondary to their primary job of being a policymaker.

“Because we are a national organization, we have our meetings all over the country, which logistically makes it harder for them to get to,” she said. “Of course, they all have their primary job of being a policymaker and so really our role is to help them do their job better.”

Normandin said the delegates attend an annual meeting where the commissioners can vote on any business or policy matters. They are expected to be aware of the organization’s resources and share them with colleagues and attend any topical meetings that may be of interest. Delegates are also sometimes asked to serve as speakers or panelists at the aforementioned topical meetings.

Alex Halaska, state president of College Democrats of Illinois and senior in LAS, said that Jakobsson’s appointment makes sense based on her work on higher education committees and involvement in the community and state.

“From what I can tell, (she’s) been about making college more affordable for students,” Halaska said. “Not just in her home district, but it seems like across the state.”

He noted her work in passing legislation that helped make textbooks more affordable by requiring the publishers to separate materials that were formerly bundled.

Jakobsson said that she will continue to focus on higher education in areas like graduation rates.

“I always say that I champion higher education, I am always championing for the University of Illinois and the people who are here,” she said. “The bottom line is we want to make sure that everybody in Illinois gets the quality education that they deserve.”

Eleanor can be reached at [email protected]