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Education

  • soybeansCHAMPAIGN - State Senator Scott Bennett, the new Vice-Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, is excited to announce that Illinois has a new measure to prioritize agriculture education in schools across the state.  

    Bennett’s legislation that will create a grant to fund up to 50 percent of the personnel costs for agriculture education teachers, Senate Bill 2975, was signed into law today. 

    “Agriculture is the backbone of our state’s economy,” Bennett said. “We need to do whatever we can to train our future farmers and prioritize agriculture curriculum in schools across our communities.”

    Under Senate Bill 2975, if a school district creates a new agriculture education program they could receive a grant to fund 100 percent of personnel costs in their first two years and 80 percent in the third and fourth years.

    “Education is essential,” Bennett said. “When students are exploring different career paths, they need to know agricultural sciences is a possibility.”

    This law will also add agriculture education as an area of identified staff shortage which would make scholarship money available for those who want to go into agriculture education.

    Currently, only 61 percent of agriculture jobs will be filled with qualified graduates in the coming years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    “Let’s work together to train our future farmers,” Bennett said. “Programs like this are essential to keeping Illinois’ agribusiness growing.”

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  • collins 041316SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) was pleased to announce the governor signed into law on Friday three pieces of legislation she sponsored to improve the quality of public K-12 education in Illinois.

    •  House Bill 3199 requires charter schools, which are funded with public dollars, to comply with all state absenteeism and truancy laws applicable to traditional public schools.
    • busesChildren who come to school with the least deserve our help the most.

      Senate President John Cullerton todaywill put up for a vote Senate Bill 2054, a preschool-through-high school (P-12) education funding bill. Under this legislation, school districts throughout the state with low-income students will gain state funding. Students in Chicago will gain, students in downstate communities that have lost their coal mines and factories will gain, and students in every one of the 15 school districts here in Senate District 43 will gain.

      Illinois, despite all the bad press, remains the fifth most-populous state with the fifth-largest economy of any state. It is morally right and economically necessary to use our resources to offer all Illinois school children a first-class education.

      P-12 funding is the keystone of efforts to pass a state budget to support human services, higher education, public safety and highway construction. Please urge Governor Rauner, the legislative leaders, and Senate and House members to support SB 2054.

    • trotter 053116Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) championed a budget bill to ensure Pre-K and K-12 schools could open on time this year.

      House Bill 2990 would provide a $75 million increase in funding for early childhood education and provide additional money for P-12 education.

    • Senator Pat McGuireSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) joined members of the Senate Downstate Caucus on Tuesday in support of a measure that more equitably funds Illinois’ public schools.

      The Downstate Caucus held a press conference to brief reporters about Senate Bill 231, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), which changes a nearly 20-year-old formula for how the state distributes its funding for K-12 education. A key provision of SB 231 shifts state money away from wealthier school districts — whose high property values fund a high level of per-pupil spending — to those districts with a higher proportion of low-income students.

      “In Illinois, the quality of a child's education too often depends on the child's ZIP code. Senator Manar's measure would correct this,” McGuire said. “I urge the governor to re-think his opposition to SB 231. To bring back Illinois, we need to bring every child's education up to world-class level. That's morally right, economically necessary, and SB 231 is the conscientious way to do it."

      Under SB 231, no district would receive less state money from 2015 levels, and many areas will see that 100 percent of its students get an increase in funding.

      “Kids in Illinois cities hit hard by factories closing in the 1980s and ever since badly need a boost,” McGuire said. “This legislation helps students in Joliet, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Rockford… SB 231 will help transform Illinois’ Rust Belt into the asset we need it to be.”

      SB 231 recently passed a key Senate committee and will be debated on the floor later this week.

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    • cunningham ag edSPRINGFIELD—Senator Bill Cunningham passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate prioritizing agriculture education in the state.

      Senate Bill 2975, subject to appropriation, would create a grant to fund up to 50 percent of the personnel costs for an agriculture education teacher. If a school district is creating a new agriculture education program they could receive a grant to fund 100 percent of personnel costs in their first two years and 80 percent in the third and fourth year.

      “We need to prioritize agriculture in our schools. Our economy is driven by agriculture and yet so many students throughout the state have very little opportunity to learn about it,” Cunningham said. “This legislation would allow schools like the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences to easily maintain or create agriculture education programs.”

      The legislation would also add agriculture education as an area of identified staff shortage which would make scholarship money available for those who want to go into agriculture education. Only 61 percent of agriculture jobs will be filled with qualified graduates in the coming years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

      “We need to emphasize the careers agriculture offers, and one of those is teaching the next generation about those opportunities,” Cunningham said.

      The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration.

    • Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) speaks at a recent press conference about the importance of fair and equitable education funding.


    • manar 032416SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Andy Manar’s (D-Bunker Hill) plan to update the state’s education funding formula passed through the Senate Executive committee on Wednesday.

      The legislation, Senate Bill 231, provides that state funding for education would be distributed based on student need while ensuring that no district would receive less state money than it did in the 2015-16 school year.

      “Today’s vote was a great step forward in changing what is, without a doubt, the least equitable system of funding education in the nation,” Manar said. “I’m fully committed to hearing input from everyone in the legislature, and throughout the state as this proceeds through the legislature.”

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    • harris 040516State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) released the following statement in support of Senator Andy Manar’s education funding reform legislation, Senate Bill 231:

      “Our kids throughout Chicago and the South Suburbs are facing some tough issues because of where they live, and receiving a quality education shouldn’t be one of them. Thanks to Senator Manar’s initiative, we have the opportunity to open doors for them and all children living in low-income communities by providing more resources to schools who are most in need. Most would agree that education is the gateway to opportunity, and every child deserves a chance to reach their full potential. I look forward to alleviating some of the disparities created within our current system.”

    • lightford 040516In 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.

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    • manar 032416Spending more won’t fix inequity

      SPRINGFIELD – Students and taxpayers in Paxton-Buckley-Loda CUSD 10 are being disadvantaged under Illinois’ antiquated system for funding education. The current education formula funnels money to largely wealthy districts that have the resources to spend as much as $30,000 per student. Recent data suggests that Paxton-Buckely-Loda CUSD 10 spends roughly a third of that per student, about $9,696. Reforming the state’s education funding formula could send more state money to Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

      Unfortunately, Governor Bruce Rauner is pushing to put more tax dollars into the system that shortchanges Paxton-Buckley-Loda. He toured the high school Thursday.

      State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) appreciates the governor’s commitment to improving education, but is trying to win support for a modern school funding system that better recognizes the needs of schools like Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

      “Increasing our investment in education alone will not get to the heart of the inequity between Illinois’ school districts,” Manar said. “It’s disheartening to hear the governor tell students, teachers and parents all over the state in struggling school districts that he will fix the problem, while he refuses to commit to implementing a more equitable funding formula.”

      Manar is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1, a complete overhaul of the state’s school funding system that prioritizes funding for school districts like Paxton-Buckley-Loda, based on the needs of its students. Under the reform plan, Paxton-Buckley-Loda could see an additional $237,000 in annual state aid, or about $170 more per student. Manar notes that this pending legislation would not require more spending, as the governor has proposed, at the state level. 

      “I have advised the governor that he is making the same mistakes as his predecessors. He thinks we can spend our way out of this problem,” said Manar. “We spend $12 billion today on schools, and we have the least equitable system in America.  We can spend that $12 billion better to drive better results and bridge the inequity gap.” 

      The new proposed funding formula takes student need into account, by providing more money to districts serving higher numbers of low income, special needs or English learning students. According to recent data, 49 percent of Paxton-Buckley-Loda students are low income, close to the state average.

      Roughly 16 percent of students in the district have disabilities, higher than the state average of 14 percent.

    • cunningham ag edStudents looking to get into agriculture could be without the necessary educational opportunities to spring them forward in the industry.

      In the most recent budget proposal from the governor’s office, agriculture education in Illinois is set to be cut completely out of the budget. In past years, agriculture education has received nearly $2 million.

      Senator Bill Cunningham has proposed legislation that puts a priority on agriculture education instead of slashing it to zero.

      “We need to be prioritizing the industries that make Illinois great. Agriculture is one of those industries,” said Senator Cunningham. “We need to continue to invest in agriculture education, not just end it.”

    • Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker hill) discusses education funding reform with members of the press at a press conference in East Moline, Illinois on February 8, 2016.


    • manar n macManar optimistic for change this year

      VIRDEN – A broken school funding system is cheating North Mac students out of educational resources and opportunities and needs to be changed, state Senator Andy Manar told a crowd Monday that turned out for a town hall meeting hosted by the North Mac School Board.

      “Right now the state is failing our students,” Manar said. “We need a complete overhaul to bring funding and resources to schools and students who need them.”

      Manar, who’s leading efforts in the General Assembly to modernize how the state funds schools, outlined what a new system should look like. The guiding principle, he said, is that funding should target students and schools who need it the most for instance, those serving high numbers of low-income students, students with special needs and other key education and cost factors.

      Local officials joined Manar in calling for sweeping changes to the outdated system now in place.

      “The North Mac Schools have been hit hard financially by the inequitable education funding formula and recent state cuts. We’ve been forced to cut 38 staff and teaching positions and increase class sizes. We’ve also delayed educational improvements and building renovations to ensure the financial survival of the district,” said North Mac School Board President Robyn Hays.

      Manar is hopeful that a new education funding system, one that would recognize North Mac’s educational and financial needs, will be approved this year in Springfield.

    • lightford cps 012016CHICAGO—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.

    • harris mr 110115Senate President John Cullerton addressed the Chicago City Club today. Cullerton’s speech focused on education funding reform as a priority for legislature. State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) reacted to the speech with the following:

      “Affording children a quality education has been one of my priorities since becoming a state senator. I applaud President Cullerton for focusing on the issue in his City Club speech today. I’m currently working with Senator Andy Manar to produce legislation that would secure a fair, adequate and well-funded education for all children,” State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) said. “Our education funding formula doesn’t work, and it’s hurting the poorest kids in our state. We can’t continue to ignore this issue. Our state’s future is at stake.”