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Education

  • Seclusion room measures excluded from education legislation

    seclusionroom 052320SPRINGFIELD – As the Senate approved an education plan without addressing the abuse of seclusion rooms in schools, State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) released the following statement:

    “I am incredibly disappointed that the provisions to protect our most vulnerable students were excluded from the final bill. Advocates and I are trying to address the reality of children being shackled in our schools, while the opposition is more concerned with administrative provisions in the legislation.

    “When physical attendance at schools resumes, our children should not fear that their basic dignity will be stripped away. I remain committed to ending the inhumane practices of prone restraint and the abuse of seclusion rooms.”

  • COVID-19 response package for education heads to governor’s desk

    manar floor 052120SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois General Assembly today approved legislation to help rank-and-file teachers and school districts address the unique challenges to Illinois’ education system created by COVID-19.

     

    Senate Bill 1569 makes a number of changes that help schools adjust to remote learning, including the following:

     

     

    • Allows for the creation of remote learning days and remote learning plans
    • Allows for a combination of remote learning and in-person instruction
    • Suspends clock hour requirements when a disaster is declared
    • Affirms graduation modifications granted to Spring 2020 graduates
    • Allows mandated exams to be completed remotely

    “This package provides school districts more flexibility and creativity to work around the limitations posed by COVID-19,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “This will help them deliver the best possible learning experience for their students as the circumstances evolve over the next year.”

    Because teacher evaluations for the 20-21 school year have been paused due to COVID-19, SB 1569 extends teacher license renewals by one year.

    The legislation also extends a law allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom as substitutes for up to 120 paid days or 600 paid hours without impairing their retirement status. Originally passed by Senator Manar in 2017, the program has helped address the severe teacher shortage facing downstate school districts.

    “Over the past few months, aspiring, current, and retired teachers have stepped up to serve their communities in ways many of them have never imagined they would,” Manar. “They’ve gone above and beyond to be there for their students, despite a host of administrative and financial challenges. I’m pleased that we were able to remove some of those hurdles and sources of uncertainty.”

    Finally, the legislation also makes it easier for college students who receive financial assistance through the Aspirational Institutional Match Illinois Grow Higher Education Grant Pilot Program, also known as AIM HIGH, to retain their aid for the duration of their four years of undergraduate studies.

    AIM HIGH provides financial assistance to eligible low-income students who attend one of the state’s 12 public universities. Under the measure, the income of a student when entering the program will be the income of the student for the life of the program.

  • Bertino-Tarrant’s education package passes Senate

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  • Bennett votes in favor of education package

    Sen. Scott BennettSPRINGFIELD Students and educators have faced tremendous barriers with COVID-19, which has impacted every classroom in Illinois. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) recognized the challenges they face and favorably voted for an education package to make a high quality education available for students at all levels, whether it be in-person or remotely.

    “It is imperative we continue to invest in our education system, especially in these unfortunate times,” said Bennett, a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “I have always prioritized education during my time in the General Assembly, and I believe people will need higher education and job training more than ever after this pandemic.”

  • The Majority Report 04/27/20 - Parks, some businesses reopen in May

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    Unemployment and the CARES Act: What you need to know

    Umemployment

    SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Dept. of Employment Security has released updates on unemployment insurance programs that have been put in place in response to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Illinoisans’ jobs.

    Employees who have become unemployed through no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment insurance. A new program covers those workers who are considered part of the “gig economy” or other independent contractors who were not eligible before.

    There are three new federal programs under the CARES Act, the coronavirus stimulus package recently passed by Congress: The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

    Read more.

     


    Lightford announces expansion of COVID-19 testing in black communities

    Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordCHICAGO — Senate Majority Leader and Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is backing Gov. JB Pritzker’s efforts to expand COVID-19 testing in African-American and other minority communities across Illinois.

    “Governor Pritzker’s leadership has been incredible throughout this devastating crisis,” Lightford said. “His announcement today shows his commitment to people from every part of our state, and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus will continue to work alongside him to support his efforts.”

    Read more.

     

     

     

     


    Bertino-Tarrant reacts to governor's school closure Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

    PLAINFIELD — State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) said Friday she supports Gov. JB Pritzker’s decision to close in-person classes for the rest of the school year as a way to keep children and families safe from COVID-19.

    “The decision made by our governor Friday afternoon to close schools for the rest of the academic year is best for the safety and health of our community and all of Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Thanks to the hard work and support from our teachers, students will continue education through e-learning and other at-home programs.”

    Read more.

     

     


    McGuire urges people to donate blood, register as organ donor Donate Life

    JOLIET — To help the many people who will need it during the pandemic, State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) urged residents to donate blood, bone marrow and organs during April, which is National Donate Life Month.

    “The pandemic is a cruel double whammy,” McGuire said. “Patients need blood now, and those who survive might need organs later in life due to the virus' damage to the body. People need donated blood and organs for lots of other medical conditions, too.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Christopher Belt, Centreville: New coronavirus testing site to open in East St. Louis | Belleville News-Democrat

    Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: Crowe asks residents to be aware of signs of abuse during Child Abuse Prevention Month | Advantage News

    Senator Patrick Joyce, Essex: Only trust information on COVID-19 from reliable sources | Daily Journal

     


    Copyright 2020 - Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus - All Rights Reserved

    Subscribe to The Majority Report

  • The Majority Report 04/20/20 - What you need to know about unemployment and the CARES Act

    majority-report-header-2014

    Unemployment and the CARES Act: What you need to know

    Umemployment

    SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Dept. of Employment Security has released updates on unemployment insurance programs that have been put in place in response to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Illinoisans’ jobs.

    Employees who have become unemployed through no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment insurance. A new program covers those workers who are considered part of the “gig economy” or other independent contractors who were not eligible before.

    There are three new federal programs under the CARES Act, the coronavirus stimulus package recently passed by Congress: The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

    Read more.

     


    Lightford announces expansion of COVID-19 testing in black communities

    Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordCHICAGO — Senate Majority Leader and Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is backing Gov. JB Pritzker’s efforts to expand COVID-19 testing in African-American and other minority communities across Illinois.

    “Governor Pritzker’s leadership has been incredible throughout this devastating crisis,” Lightford said. “His announcement today shows his commitment to people from every part of our state, and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus will continue to work alongside him to support his efforts.”

    Read more.

     

     

     

     


    Bertino-Tarrant reacts to governor's school closure Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

    PLAINFIELD — State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) said Friday she supports Gov. JB Pritzker’s decision to close in-person classes for the rest of the school year as a way to keep children and families safe from COVID-19.

    “The decision made by our governor Friday afternoon to close schools for the rest of the academic year is best for the safety and health of our community and all of Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Thanks to the hard work and support from our teachers, students will continue education through e-learning and other at-home programs.”

    Read more.

     

     


    McGuire urges people to donate blood, register as organ donor Donate Life

    JOLIET — To help the many people who will need it during the pandemic, State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) urged residents to donate blood, bone marrow and organs during April, which is National Donate Life Month.

    “The pandemic is a cruel double whammy,” McGuire said. “Patients need blood now, and those who survive might need organs later in life due to the virus' damage to the body. People need donated blood and organs for lots of other medical conditions, too.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Christopher Belt, Centreville: New coronavirus testing site to open in East St. Louis | Belleville News-Democrat

    Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: Crowe asks residents to be aware of signs of abuse during Child Abuse Prevention Month | Advantage News

    Senator Patrick Joyce, Essex: Only trust information on COVID-19 from reliable sources | Daily Journal

     


    Copyright 2020 - Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus - All Rights Reserved

    Subscribe to The Majority Report

  • Van Pelt expands Goal Setting Art Contest in response to school closures

    Sen. Patricia Van PeltCHICAGO – The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to school closures in Illinois, potentially leaving parents responsible for home-schooling their children through April. While families are making arrangements, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt is launching a career-focused art contest for students.

    Earlier this month, Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all K-12 schools — both public and private — be closed from March 17 to April 7 (April 21 for Chicago Public Schools) to further safeguard communities from the spread of the virus.

  • Bertino-Tarrant’s measure helps teach students to balance checkbooks

    CheckbookSPRINGFIELD – Illinois students may soon be equipped with the skills to tackle real-life financial issues, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) introduced Senate Bill 2474, which will allow students to take a financial literacy class as a math requirement for high school graduation.

    “Our schools need to ensure students are not only able to excel academically, but also have the life skills to be successful as adults, “Bertino-Tarrant said. “Balancing checkbooks, calculating income taxes and understanding bank statements are vital life skills that we should want our young people to have. Our students need to be equipped with the knowledge to manage their money effectively.”

    Senate Bill 2474 allows that one year, or a semester, of a financial literacy course may count toward the math requirement to graduate high school.

    A report released by AIG Retirement Services found that students’ low financial literacy levels result from little to no fiscal education within the K-12 school system.

    They also found 36% of participants already have more than $1,000 in credit card debt. And many students do not have enough money to pay off their debts or are not fully aware of the consequences of leaving bills unpaid.

    “As we tackle rising tuition costs and fees, we must ensure our students have the financial sense to understand how money works,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Mathematics is not just about formulas and right angles, we have an opportunity to show students how math applies to their lives as adults.”

    Bertino-Tarrant is looking forward to discussions on Senate Bill 2474 this upcoming legislative session

  • Bertino-Tarrant applauds plans to invest in Illinois’ education system

    Senator Bertino-TarrantSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) was thrilled to hear Gov. JB Pritzker’s plans to increase investments in the state’s education system during the State of the State address on Wednesday.

    “The most important investment we can make is in our children’s education,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Increasing investments in child care and early childhood education will ensure that we are providing the best resources to help train the future leaders of our great state.”

  • Belt urges early childhood investors to apply for Early Childhood Block Grant

    Senator BeltCENTREVILLE – To increase the success of our youth, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) is urging schools to submit an application to receive the Early Childhood Block Grant from the Illinois State Board of Education.

    “Schools need to close their student’s achievement gap sooner than later and that starts with increasing the investment in our kids at a young age,” Belt said. “We are trying to improve access to quality early childhood programs and early childhood investors need to take advantage of this opportunity.”

    Last year’s $543.7 million appropriation for early childhood was the largest in Illinois history.

    Eligible applicants for the Early Childhood Block Grant include public school districts, university laboratory schools approved by Illinois State Board of Education, charter schools, area vocational centers, and public or private not-for-profit or for-profit entities with experience in providing educational, health, social, or child development services to young children and their families.

    For more information visit www.isbe.net/ecbg. Applications are due to the Illinois State Board of Education no later than 4 p.m. on March 23.

  • Martwick announces library grants to local school districts

    BooksCHICAGO – Six school districts will receive more than $6,000 in grants through the Illinois Secretary of State’s School Library Grant program, Senator Rob Martwick announced today.

    “Our school libraries have a phenomenal impact on our student’s academic achievements,” said Martwick. “This grant program will allow our libraries to help train our children to compete for jobs in a global economy.”

    The grants, which are issued by the Illinois State Library, allow public schools to improve technology by purchasing new computers or improving Wi-Fi connectivity, acquire books, educational CDs and DVDs, and library subscriptions to electronic resources.

    “Today’s students not only need to be good readers, but also be able to evaluate and use information to develop cognitive skills,” said Martwick. “Our schools have amazing librarians who are helping educate the minds of the next generation. This grant will help aid them in continuing their mission and training the future leaders of our great state.”

    Information about the grant program can be found at: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/grants/schoolpercapgrant.html.

    Schools receiving school library grants include:

    • East Maine School District #63— $2,046
    • Schiller Park School District #81— $970.50
    • Board of Education District #80— $787.50
    • Union Ridge School District #86— $750
    • Ridgewood Community High School District #234— $750
    • Pennoyer School District #79— $750
  • Lawmakers seek answers to abuse of seclusion rooms in schools

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  • Gillespie celebrates increase in skilled job training enrollment

    gillespie 103119SPRINGFIELD –State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) celebrated the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) announcement that career and technical education (CTE) enrollment has increased.

    Citing the first funding increase to CTE programs in over five years, ISBE announced that CTE enrollment has increased by nearly 5,000 students since 2016. Gillespie says it is vital to train more Illinois workers for in-demand, specialized jobs.

    “Career and technical education programs offer an affordable alternative to higher education that train students with tangible, hands-on work skills,” Gillespie said. “Increased investments in workforce development will prepare young people for success and ensure that employers have an educated workforce with the skills necessary for their respective industries.”

  • Bertino-Tarrant acts to preserve five-hour school days in Illinois

    05072019CM0083RSPLAINFIELD –Illinois’ five-hour classroom time will now ensure students receive a balanced education, thanks to the Senate’s Education Chair Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

    Bertino-Tarrant’s measure, Senate Bill 28, reinstates a minimum of 5 hours of instruction per day in schools, allowing exemptions for students enrolled in dual career, supervised career development experiences and youth apprenticeships.

    This section was repealed in the Evidence Based Funding for Student Success Act trailer bill, leaving each school district to determine what counts as an instructional day. The fix was signed into law on Friday

    “Utilizing technology in our curriculum helps our children learn better,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “In the 21st century, we need to continue to look for ways to incorporate innovative teaching methods to guarantee our children are prepared to compete in the modern world. However, there needs to be clear and concise guidelines in place to ensure students are receiving the best possible educational opportunities.”

    Schools that have received approval from Illinois State Board of Education may still utilize e-learning days to satisfy school day requirements.

    Bertino-Tarrant is committed to working with ISBE, educators and advocates to create a streamlined process that will allow school districts to utilize e-learning, especially in cases when schools are forced to cancel days in the classroom.

    “E-learning is a valuable tool,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We just need to make sure there are clear standards in place to prevent abuse of the program.”

    Senate Bill 28 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The measure go into effect on July 1, 2019.

  • Manar passes measure to increase teacher minimum salary

    Sen. Andy ManarSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) passed legislation Wednesday aimed at eliminating the teacher shortage in Illinois by increasing the minimum salary for teachers.

    “Illinois schools are having an increasingly difficult time attracting and retaining qualified teachers and a big part of that is the fact that we aren’t paying them enough,” Manar said. “This legislation shows the high value we place on teachers and the commitment we have to keeping them in Illinois.”

    House Bill 2078 would increase the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 over a four year period.

  • Lightford calls for teaching consent in schools

    Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Students across Illinois could soon have consent taught as a part of their sex education curriculum. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) passed House Bill 3550 through the Senate on Wednesday.

    “The stigma of being sexually assaulted has kept so many victims silent for decades,” Lightford said. “Teaching consent helps young people establish boundaries and feel empowered to speak out against an abuser.”

    The legislation requires students in grades 6-12 to learn the meaning of consent and how to respect personal boundaries. Under current law, consent is briefly mentioned in the School Code, but no definition or guidance is provided.

  • Education Committee Chair Bertino-Tarrant passes measures to address Illinois teacher shortage

    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.”

  • Manar advances teacher shortage remedies

    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

    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.

  • Senate committee again advances teacher minimum wage plan

    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.