The message was clear and the call for action united as members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus gathered outside the Senate chamber to voice their response to Governor Rauner’s State of the State address.
The press conference began with ILBC Chair Kimberly Lightford giving opening remarks setting the stage for a number of initiatives important to the African-American community to be discussed, including education equity, restoring essential social services and police brutality and incarceration reform.
Senators comment on this year's Black History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”
Over the years the crisis in black education has grown significantly. In urban neighborhoods, public schooling systems lack resources and have overcrowded classrooms, which result to students of color reaping the disproportionate shortfalls of the racial achievement gap.
In the past, whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America. Because of that, black students today are underperforming and are not advancing like their white counterparts.
This year’s national theme, The Crisis in Black Education, focuses on the evolution of black education and its meaning as it empowers students to grow, achieve and prosper.
The governor’s budget address fails to help college students, vulnerable residents and disenfranchised communities. This was the core belief expressed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus at their budget press conference on Wednesday.
ILBC Chair Kimberly Lightford joined members in calling student activists and the governor to action. She challenged the governor’s proposal to sell an outdated, broken education funding plan as true reform and his failure to address higher education concerns.
“Funding our schools without reforming our unfair education system does more harm than good. No matter how much wealth you have, throwing money at a problem is not going to solve it without understanding the real issues at hand. Our decades-old funding formula has not done anything to meet the needs of today’s students. It has only led to the most regressive funding system in the nation."
SPRINGFIELD — Months after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure that would have secured funding for Chicago Public Schools, Illinois Senate Democrats rejected his attempt to promise $215 million to the school system without any funding source to provide it.
“This measure would have made yet another promise to Chicago students without taking the necessary steps to ever follow through on it,” said Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago. “We already approved a measure last year – which the governor saw fit to veto – that would have addressed this very problem in a responsible way, with the necessary funding. As it is, this is another broken promise in the making.”
SPRINGFIELD – Most of us would agree that if we could do high school all over again, knowing what we now know about how the world works, some of our academic questions and concerns might focus on more practical subjects – maybe simply inquiring about how to get through day-to-day adult life unscathed.
How do I stay out of debt? What is the best way to pay back mounting student loans? How do I prevent the guy in the apartment next door from stealing my identity?
A new law, pushed through the General Assembly by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D – Maywood), will require those questions to be answered in Illinois public high schools.
After three years of the governor failing to fulfill his constitutional obligation to introduce a balanced budget, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus assembled for a press conference to say enough is enough. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is a collection of black legislators from both the House of Representatives and Senate.
"I am not sure what could be said about the governor's three years of inactivity," said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), chairwoman for the Joint Legislative Black Caucus. "Before he was sworn in he stated he wanted to shake things up in Springfield; in the process, he has shaken a hole in our state."
SPRINGFIELD- In 2012, 49 percent of Illinois public school students belonged to a racial or ethnic minority group, while only 16.7 percent of teachers did. Many studies show that the more teachers reflect the student body, the better the results in the classroom will be.
In light of this, minority teachers working toward additional degrees or certifications in Illinois could soon be eligible for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Program, under a proposal the Senate approved today.
Senate Bill 3319, which passed the Senate today, would allow minority teachers to apply to receive a grant for up to $5,000 a year.
“Studies show minority children have better academic outcomes when being instructed by a teacher belonging to their same racial minority,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, sponsor of the legislation. “A more diverse group of teachers with advanced degrees only creates more opportunities for our children.”
Teachers with appropriate degrees can teach dual credit courses, which award college credit upon their completion. This legislation would help expand opportunities for all children to get ahead on their college coursework while still in high school.
The proposal now heads to the House for consideration.
SPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) moved a proposal expanding eligibility for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship program out of committee yesterday.
Senate Bill 1739 allows licensed teachers pursuing additional teaching endorsements or a master’s degree in an academic field related to the subject they currently teach or plan to teach to apply for the MTI scholarship.
“Minority students have better academic outcomes when taught by someone who also belongs to a racial or ethnic minority. Furthermore, increasing the number of teachers who can offer courses that award college credit creates a path for students from high school to college to career,” Lightford said.
Recipients can get up to $5,000 a year toward their college tuition. Those who receive the grant are required to make a commitment to teach for a minimum of five years in an Illinois school where at least 30 percent of students are identified as minority students.
The legislation will now head to the full Senate for consideration.
CHICAGO-Funding for programs serving children ages birth to three will continue to increase under a proposal that was signed into law today. Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) led efforts to ensure this funding increase would not sacrifice support for other early childhood programs.
Senate Bill 238 requires 25 percent of any increase in funding for early childhood education must go to birth to three programs.
“Educating our children requires us to invest the proper resources to ensure their success,” Lightford said.
SPRINGFIELD- Districts with high dropout rates could soon receive more funding to help retain students under a proposal led by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was approved in the Senate Education Committee today.
“There is a disincentive to re-enroll dropouts based on low attendance rates, and the resources to get students back on track are not available to guarantee their success,” Lightford said.
Senate Bill 446 would provide high schools with high dropout rates with increased state funding to provide an incentive to bring students back to the classroom. Re-enrolled students would have to be placed into an evidence-based model and best practices program for high school dropouts.
“Students in these high dropout rate districts need support and guidance to get across the finish line,” Lightford said. “Educators should feel encouraged, not punished, for doing what is right and educating these students.”
The measure now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
CHICAGO—Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) issued the following statement in strong support of Senate President John Cullerton’s speech detailing the necessity for need-based school funding reform Monday at the City Club of Chicago.
“Just as President Cullerton expressed so eloquently today, we must continue to shed light on one of the grossest injustices setting back Illinois today – the iniquities of our school funding system. Working together is the only way we turn our education system’s regression into progression. It’s the only way we turn systemic disadvantage into education equity. If we don’t act now in the interest of our children’s futures, it will be too late for another generation, and this, we cannot afford.” Sen. Lightford said.
SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) issued the following statement after she voted to free up $3.1 billion in spending to sustain local communities, including motor fuel tax revenue, which has been held up by the budget impasse in Springfield. The measure passed the Senate and now goes to the governor for final approval.
“Today, my colleagues and I proved our resolve to make sure families and local governments have the money to continue functioning without a true budget in place,” said the assistant majority leader. “Now, we must shift our focus to what remains to be budgeted, prioritizing higher education and crucial community services, such as mental health and homeless programs. We have more work to do.”
The legislation releases motor fuel tax revenue for communities throughout Cook County – communities such as Bellwood, Maywood, North Riverside, Westchester, Oak Park and River Forest – that can be used to prepare for winter storms and repair potholes.
The exact dollar amount of how much communities are owed this year has not yet been released, but communities throughout Cook County received nearly $100 million in gas tax money last year.
Other areas of concern that have yet to be dealt with in the piecemeal budget process include MAP grant funding and other scholarships, services for rape victims, addiction treatment, immigrant language translation services, Teen Reach, epilepsy services and respite care.
Still, the legislation (SB 2039) does include the following components:
• $582.5 million to IDOT for local governments share of motor fuel gas tax revenues• $77 million for 911-related costs• $1 billion to the Lottery for prizes• $43 million to the Community College Board for career and technical education activities• $31 million to IDOT to purchase road salt• $2.5 million for breast cancer services and research• $165 million for home heating bill assistance
CHICAGO- A woman walked into U.S. Rep. Danny Davis’ office yesterday, drank out of a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the hand sanitizer on herself and used a lighter to set herself on fire. The unfortunate incident highlights the mental health crisis in our state and across the country.
“We need to fully fund our state’s mental health services,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “The story about this woman inflicting pain on herself should move us to acknowledge and support solutions for the mental health issues so many people are struggling with.”
In response to legislation filed today restructuring the Illinois school funding formula, State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood) released the following statement.
Fairness in our school funding formula has been a topic of legislative debate and revision for decades, yet education equality remains elusive. At some point, justice has to become more than a promise. It must become a reality for all kids.
Senator Manar has worked tirelessly with leaders on both sides of the aisle and from all sides of the funding debate to construct a bill that takes the well-being of every student, every school and every district into account. It’s not too late for us to do what we should have done decades ago – pass fair education funding reform worthy of our students.
Like previous versions of education formula reform, such as SB 1, schools with fewer resources will receive more funding under the new version of the plan, but this legislation also allows more districts to qualify for additional funding through a widened adequacy grant, institutes a complete hold harmless for the next fiscal year and creates an evidence-based panel to oversee implementation of any changes.
The legislation is filed as Senate Bill 231.
Page 1 of 3