Black teen student 030921CHICAGO — Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) celebrated the signing of a new law to help combat racial inequities in education, provide better pathways to success for students and strengthen the state’s workforce.

“For too long, Black students have been left behind and denied the same path to success that others have been able to experience,” ILBC Joint Caucus Chair state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, said. “With a focus on combatting racial inequity and providing equal opportunities for students to succeed, we can build a stronger Illinois for all families.”

“In order to build an Illinois that is fairer for all people, we have to start by eliminating inequities in our education system,” state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, said. “Every student deserves the opportunity to learn in a classroom free of bias that helps them develop skills they will use as a worker and as a citizen.”

“House Bill 2170 is a step toward ridding Illinois of the damaging policies and procedures built into our state's systems of law and government that have created deep inequities and opportunity gaps in education for Black students,” Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said. “It's time for our children to accelerate their education throughout the duration of their careers, from early learning to prestigious universities, followed by successful careers. I’m humbled to have led this effort and look forward to continuing to fight to ensure fairness and equality in Illinois for all our state’s residents.”

On Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 2170, a package of education and workforce development reforms, into law. The package addresses issues in elementary and high school education as well as higher education including measures to incentivize the development of minority teachers and lower the costs of college through expanded grant programs. The measure institutes new curriculum requirements for inclusive history education and computer science instruction to help build the next generation of students. Additionally, the measure creates a Whole Child Task Force to study best practices for behavioral health-informed teaching and instruction to meet the mental health and emotional welfare needs of students.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work of the Black Caucus to help pass this law, which we couldn’t have done without the work of Rep. Ammons and Sen. Lightford. I’m especially grateful to Sen. Lightford as she championed not only this legislation, but the entire Black Caucus agenda in her role as immediate past chairperson,” Harper added. “We look forward to seeing all pillars of the Black Caucus agenda be passed and enacted into law, including measures on economic opportunity, equity and access and health care and human services reform.”