Wednesday, August 26, 2015 01:55 PM
- Public Safety
- Back to School
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Democrats unveiled the top laws for students and parents in time for the back-to-school season. In addition to Senator Andy Manar’s ongoing efforts to reform education funding, other lawmakers passed laws to address school safety and education standards.
New laws requiring more screening for school bus drivers and students teachers will make Illinois’ schools safer for children. Sen. Emil Jones III pushed for additional background checks for school bus drivers.
“Parents should feel safe when sending their child to school. This new law, HB 1665, creates another safety measure to prevent potential problems before they occur,” said Senator Jones.
Sens. Bill Cunningham and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant pushed for improving the process of conducting criminal background checks for student teachers. The new law, SB 706, requires student teachers to go through the same screenings as regular teachers and other student employees.
And organizations that seek to open charter schools in Illinois must now disclose any ongoing criminal or civil investigations into their activities thanks to Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins’ new law, SB 1591.
“Charter schools are funded primarily with public money, so it is important to hold them to high standards and subject new proposals to the highest possible degree of scrutiny,” Collins said.
Investing in students
Gifted 7th and 8th graders will soon have greater access to advanced classes. Currently, students have to travel to high school for advanced studies. Now, elementary teachers who are certified to teach high school courses can teach students within the elementary school thanks to State Senator William Delgado’s new law, HB 806.
“I believe that students who have a desire to learn and take advanced courses should be given every opportunity to do so,” said State Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago).
High school graduates will now have a better understanding of state government. Sen. Tom Cullerton’s new law, HB 4025, would require a semester of civics for students to graduate high school.
The needs of students with development disabilities have become a top education priority. Senator Kimberly A. Lightford’s new law, SB 226, requires increased training of public school case workers to register students with the PUNS (Prioritization or Urgency of Need for Services) database.
“Through this new law, we can ensure that students in the greatest need receive the resources they require to succeed and lead healthy, productive lives,” said Sen. Lightford.
Students heading to college will soon be equipped with tools to stay out of debt and prevent identity theft. Sen. Lightford created a new law, SB 672, that will add identity-theft security, consumer debt and higher education loans to the list of mandatory subject to be covered in high school.
“It is extremely important to prepare our students for adult life in all its aspects so that they can avoid some of the most common and severe real world difficulties as they graduate from school, begin a career and start their own families,” said Senator Lightford.
In-coming college freshman may be able to graduate early and save money on college tuition. State Sen. Pat McGuire’s new law, HB 3428, requires all Illinois public community colleges and universities to grant credit for a minimum score of 3 on thirty-four advanced placement course examinations.
“This bill will make Illinois universities more attractive and affordable to ambitious, hard-working students. That builds Illinois’ talent base and helps our state progress and prosper,” McGuire said.
This summer, Senators Mattie Hunter, Kimberly Lightford, Iris Y. Martinez and Ira I. Silverstein hosted back-to-school events for families in their districts. Students received free book bags, school supplies, physicals and immunizations to prepare them for the first day of school.