kindergarten 1200 09252 CHICAGO –Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) joined the Senate Education and Higher Education Committees for a hearing focused on lowering the compulsory school age, determining metrics for advancement and building inclusive environments.

Thursday’s hearing was the second hearing dedicated to education and workforce development, the second pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda to rid Illinois of systemic racism.

“We learned so much about the opportunities missing for Black children in early childhood,” Lightford said. “It is appalling where Black children are in regards to literacy, mathematics and overall readiness to begin the first grade. Our state has a lot of changes to make to ensure our children are starting their education strong and have a fair chance at success.”

The committee was joined by their House counterparts to hear testimony from the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Head Start Association, The Ounce of Prevention, Illinois Action for Children and Illinois Voices for Children.

The agencies presented data regarding the importance of early childhood education, especially as it relates to Black students. Furthermore, the groups put an emphasis on the importance of providing socio-emotional supports for the entire family, particularly early in a child’s life.

The meeting wraps up the early childhood portion of the committees’ assessment of the disparities in the educational journey of Illinois students. The next hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 30 at noon, will focus on K-12 education.

Senate hearings can be watched live at: