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Education

  • Sen. Jennifer Bertino-TarrantSPRINGFIELD – To help alleviate the teacher shortage in Illinois, the Senate’s Education Chair, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant passed a series of measures on Thursday.

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) passed House Bill 423 with bipartisan support, which places a hold on requiring educators to take a controversial licensing exam.

    “This costly test may be ineffective in determining whether an applicant is qualified to teach in our classrooms,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to take some time to evaluate this requirement to ensure we are not deterring qualified teachers from joining the profession.”

  • Senator ManarSPRINGFIELD – Aspiring educators no longer would be required to pass a basic skills test and student teachers could receive a paycheck under State Senator Andy Manar’s latest plan to address Illinois’ teacher shortage crisis.

    In addition, the proposal would reinstate the 6 percent cap for teacher salary increases to be covered by the state. Last year, lawmakers lowered the cap to 3 percent.

    Manar’s measure (Senate Bill 1952) was approved by the members of Senate Education Committee Tuesday. It received bipartisan support and has bipartisan sponsorship in the Senate.

    “These are three things I hear in almost complete unison from teachers across the state – in both rural and large school districts – that in various ways impact the profession and the ability to recruit and retain qualified teachers,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.

    Three solutions are outlined the proposal:

    • Passing a basic skills test would no longer be a requirement to be a teacher. Research shows the test is a barrier to many qualified would-be teachers receiving their Professional Educator License in Illinois.
    • Removes the prohibition on student teachers being paid for their work. The plan would allow school districts, higher education, foundations and others to work together to solve local teacher shortages.
    • Reinstates the 6 percent cap for salary increases for teachers to be covered by the Teachers Retirement System. Last year lawmakers lowered the cap to 3 percent.

    “The salary cap is something I hear about regularly from constituents who work in education. It poses a challenge for recruiting and retaining qualified teachers, and it creates unnecessary competition among school districts that are vying for the same teaching candidates,” Manar said. “We have to tear down barriers to putting teachers in classrooms, not create new ones.”

    Last year, Manar passed a different set of measures to address the teacher shortage crisis, including slashing red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creating a short-term substitute teaching license and allowing downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits. The packaged was signed into law in June.

  • Senators welcome FFA Day visitors

    SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Illinois State Senate met with FFA students from around the state today to have conversations about the importance of agriculture and the need for quality agriculture education in Illinois.

    More than 1,000 FFA students and their vocational-agriculture teachers came to Springfield for the 49th annual Illinois Agriculture Legislative Day. Initiated in the 1920s, FFA's primary activities center on agriculture education including scholarships and leadership and personal development.

    “For decades, FFA has been fundamental to agricultural education in Illinois and across the country,” said State Senator Scott Bennett, the Senate’s Agriculture chairman. “Today’s FFA not only trains future farmers, it also helps prepare the next generation of scientists, veterinarians and businesses. It is always a pleasure to meet these bright and talented young men and women.”

    This annual advocacy day brings FFA students, farm, agricultural commodity organizations and other agricultural interest groups to Springfield to meet state lawmakers, share the agricultural community’s priorities for the year and offer feedback about policies concerning agriculture, business, conservation, education and more.

  • 02052019 Manar Ed Comm SB10 002RSPRINGFIELD – An effort to update Illinois’ minimum mandated salary for teachers – one that could attract more young people to the profession by sending a message that their work is valued – was approved by an Illinois Senate committee Tuesday.

    Illinois has not updated its minimum mandated salary for teachers since 1980. For 38 years, state statute has required Illinois school districts to pay teachers with a bachelor’s degree a minimum salary of $10,000 ($9,000 for those without a bachelor’s degree). Based on decades of inflation, the minimum mandated salary today should be about $32,000.

  • Sen. Rachelle CroweSPRINGFIELD – Legislation cosponsored by State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) to increase the minimum salary for teachers passed the Senate Education Committee today.

    “Illinois’ teacher shortage is a problem I’ve seen firsthand in my district. We need to be encouraging our students to enter the teaching profession, and a great first step would be to pay them appropriately,” Crowe said.

  • jbt 041118 3PLAINFIELD —Two new state laws that make dual-credit courses more available to high school students will take effect Jan. 1.

    Illinois Senate Education Committee Chair Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) championed the two laws, the first of which requires public universities and community colleges to work with local high schools to ensure students are credited for their dual-credit courses taken in high school

    The second prohibits limiting the number of courses and credits a student may receive from dual credit courses.

  • Sen. Jennifer Bertino TarrantSPRINGFIELD — A new law championed by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) will give the education community better representation on the Illinois State Board of Education.

    The new law will require that three of nine state board of education members are representatives of the educator community, ensuring more efficient implementation of the state’s education initiatives.

    “This new law will ensure that educators are at the table while we work to implement policies and standards to help give students the opportunity to be successful,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Our educators are on the frontlines. They have a good pulse on what works and doesn’t work in our classrooms. Their insight will help give the board a more rounded perspective.”

  • sims 060418SPRINGFIELD—The Senate voted today to override the governor’s veto of legislation that will help students develop the people skills employers are looking for in an effort to better prepare them for the workforce.

    State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) sponsored House Bill 4657, which allows students to learn about emotional intelligence in schools and creates the Emotional Intelligence Task Force to help schools develop and implement the necessary curriculum guidelines.

    “It’s crucial that we prepare our young people to be contributing members of society,” Sims said. “In addition to focusing on providing our students a strong foundation in the core subject areas, it is vitally important that we focus on the critical people skills our kids will need to excel in the workplace.  With so many of our kids spending a great deal of time on their phones, computers and other electronic devices rather than interacting face-to-face, we are missing out on developing the beneficial skills we learn from human interaction.”

    The task force will develop age-appropriate emotional intelligence curriculum for elementary and high schools, including how to recognize, direct and positively express emotions.

    House Bill 4657 takes effect immediately.

  • lightford 082418CHICAGO- Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) was named to the education transition committee for governor-elect JB Pritzker during a news conference held at Genevieve Melody STEM Elementary in Chicago.

    The 35-member Educational Success Committee is the seventh of several working groups of the transition made up of experts who will advise the new administration.

  • manar 112718SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar today was named co-chairman of the education transition committee for governor-elect JB Pritzker, further guaranteeing the needs of downstate Illinois are relayed to the incoming administration.

    The 35-member Educational Success Committee is the seventh of several working groups of the transition made up of experts who will advise the new administration.

    “Educating our children is a foundational obligation of state government, and that’s why I led the charge to update our antiquated K-12 school funding formula to make it equitable for every child,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill). 

  • jbt 053018SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Education Committee discussed solutions to statewide funding shortages for early childhood education programs this week.

    State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) led the charge last year to establish an evidence-based funding formula to dispense state dollars to public schools more effectively and is ready to take on the issue of early childhood education.

    “Our goal is to guarantee all Illinois’ children are given the opportunity to succeed,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “After last year’s effort, we are one step closer to ending education inequalities in our communities by funding schools the right way. The next step is to tackle the way we fund our early childhood programs.”

  • manar 052818SPRINGFIELD – Illinois should reassess how it awards pre-K grants after school districts throughout central Illinois were unexpectedly rejected for money they’ve long relied upon to run their programs, State Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday.

    “How can we ensure every student arrives at kindergarten ready to learn when the state is pulling the rug out from under school districts that are trying to help?” Manar said. “We have to ensure these grants get to the communities that need them the most so that we can continue to help the children who need it the most.”

    School districts throughout Illinois earlier this year were denied pre-K grants by the Illinois State Board of Education without warning, even though they have been receiving the grants for years.

    Bunker Hill CUSD 8 in Macoupin County is among those that were denied. Last year the district received $104,000 for its preschool program; this year it received $0. The district has received a pre-K grant since at least 1995, according to records.

    Manar said the Illinois State Board of Education cut Bunker Hill’s pre-K funding by 100 percent with no warning and little explanation. Half of all students in the district are considered low income.

    Studies show that early childhood education is vital to a lifetime of successful learning and that children from disadvantaged homes are less likely to attend preschool.

    Manar noted that the abrupt decision by ISBE to change the way it awards early childhood grants undercuts priorities identified in school funding reform discussions, including equity, poverty and need. ISBE’s new process benefits wealthy school districts that can afford to pay consultants to write their grant applications, he added.

    “Bunker Hill is not alone in this. Numerous rural and downstate communities are in the same boat, wondering how to move forward,” he said. “Like funding for K-12 schools, pre-K grants should be based on need, not on who wrote the best grant request.”

  • African-American History

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) is lead sponsor of legislation that was signed into law today requiring every community college and public university to offer a course studying the events of Black History.

    “Education is the only way we can combat negative African-American stereotypes seen on the news, social media and in movies,” Harris said. “It should be a priority for our universities to offer a course that teaches students about our culture and the contributions we’ve made to society.”

    The course must include:

    • The history of African slave trade, slavery in America and the vestiges of slavery in the United States
    • Contributions made by individual African Americans in government, the arts, humanities and sciences to the economic, cultural and political development of the United States and Africa
    • The socio-economic struggle which African Americans experienced collectively in striving to achieve fair and equal treatment under the laws of the United States

    House Bill 4346 allows public institutions of higher education to meet this requirement through online program or course, and extends that opportunity to elementary and high schools which already have the requirement.

    The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

  • The Majority Report - April 27, 2018 - Tobacco 21, bump stock ban pass Senate


  • The Majority Report - April 20, 2018 - Looking out for workers, small businesses and special ed


  • school library grants 0118BUNKER HILL – Seventeen local school districts will receive more than $22,000 in grants through the Illinois secretary of state’s School Library Grant program, Senator Andy Manar announced today.

    The grants, which are issued by the Illinois State Library, are meant to help public schools offer more library books and materials to students.

    “I am pleased that so many deserving central Illinois schools will benefit from this year’s library grants,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “This support will go a long way toward helping school libraries offer new and updated materials as children hone their reading skills and discover the thrill of picking up a great book.”

  • jbt 120817PLAINFIELD- In light of the most recent spate of chaos created by Gov. Bruce Rauner, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is calling for a pause on the award of tax credits to scholarship donors.

    “If our schools are not receiving state funding, scholarship donors should not receive tax rebates on the taxpayer’s dime,” said Bertino-Tarrant, chairwoman of the Senate’s education committee.  “It is concerning that the tax program is up and running while our schools have not received funding or even been informed how many state dollars they can count on for the next school year.”

    Funding clarity has been denied to public schools because Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 444, a technical piece of legislation previously requested by the governor’s administration to help clarify and quickly implement school funding reform. His veto of the measure will do just the opposite of that.

  • manar lightford 110617DECATUR – Teachers around the country often skip over Illinois when they’re looking for a job because of low starting salaries, licensure difficulties, lack of mentoring and other issues, Senators Andy Manar, Kimberly Lightford and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and members of the Senate Education Committee learned Monday during a hearing about the statewide teacher shortage.

    “Today’s hearing allowed us to learn from people on the front lines of public education about the barriers that keep teachers from seeking jobs in very good school districts across Illinois,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a member of the Illinois Senate’s Education Committee, which convened its hearing Monday afternoon at Decatur Public Schools’ Keil Administration Building.

  • bennett 052517CHAMPAIGN – Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Office of Management and Budget outlined more than $200 million in suggested cuts to Illinois’ 2018 budget, including reducing funding to several agriculture programs.

    “The governor’s cuts would slash funding for key agricultural research and conservation, undermining the ability of our famers to sustain their land and their livelihoods,” said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), Vice-Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture. “I am all for helping Illinois achieve long-term fiscal stability, but I wonder how much more funding to agricultural programs can be reduced without causing harm.”

    The governor’s proposed cuts are expected to reduce the budget for the Department of Agriculture by about $21 million. This will affect operations, promotions, export marketing and contractual staff.

    Under the plan, funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts remains at $5 million, equal to the previous year; however, the $2.5 million of cost-share funds was reduced, and an additional $6 million in new appropriations will not be funded.

    “I definitely support a balanced budget and spending within your means,” Bennett said. “At the same time, I will continue to advocate for efficient levels of funding for these essential programs because agriculture is the backbone of our state’s economy, and we need to do whatever we can to keep Illinois’ agribusiness growing.”

  • Empty school hallwayCHICAGO – To better understand the scope and effects of truancy and absences so officials can address them, a new law will require schools to collect and review chronic absence data. Sponsored in the Illinois Senate by State Senator Jacqueline Collins, the measure was signed into law Friday.
     
    “There are many complex causes behind absences or chronic truancy,” Collins said. “We need to identify those factors and how widespread they are so we can work directly with schools and families to address the root causes of why so many of our children are not making it to class. And I want to thank the bill’s House sponsor, Representative Linda Chapa LaVia for sponsoring this legislation.”
     
    The legislation also encourages schools to provide support to students who are chronically absent. The legislation was House Bill 3139, and takes effect in July of 2018.