• Lightford expands educational opportunities for minority teachers

    lightford 042116SPRINGFIELD- 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.

  • Martinez, Noland encourage minorities to donate blood

    Martinez blooddonorsMajority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) joined the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers at a press conference to promote blood donation during Minority Health Month.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designates April as Minority Health Month to draw attention to health-related disparities that affect minorities.

    “It’s very important that we educate the Latino community about the importance of becoming blood donors,” said Martinez, who is co-chairwoman of the Latino Caucus. “The majority of Latinos have type O blood, which is in high demand because it can be transfused to patients with other blood types.”

    Latinos are the largest minority group, but make up less than 4 percent of blood donors. Additionally, Latinos only make up 10 percent of people on the National Bone Marrow Registry. African Americans also have low blood donation and Bone Marrow Registry participation rates.

    “In my own district, nearly 40 percent of people are of Latino and African American descent,” said Noland. “It is imperative that we raise awareness in these communities for donating blood and bone marrow. This is not just a one-time issue; it is an everyday concern and one that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.”

    It is estimated that one blood donation can save up to three lives. For contact information for community blood centers, click here.