April 22, 2016

SPRINGFIELD- 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 co...

April 22, 2016

SPRINGFIELD- Children with mental health issues could be diagnosed and treated sooner thanks to a plan the Senate approved today. Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is leading legislation that mandates social and emotional screenings for children as a part of their school entry examinations.

The proposal, which passed the Senate on Friday, requires the Department of Public Health to add social and emotional screenings to its health examinations in an effort aimed at identifying potential mental health problems in school-age children, removing the stigma of mental illness and reducing teen suicide.

“We see the effects of mental illness and its stigma every day. Attacking these issues during a child’s developmental stages will foster a better educational environment and provide a clearer way of looking at mental health issues,” Lightford said. “Ignoring these issues only delays the child’s development and can have negative consequences throughout his or her life.”

Senate Bill...

April 22, 2016

Today, both the House and the Senate sent legislation to the Governor’s desk to keep the doors open at Chicago State University and a host of other state universities. Senate Bill 2059, which was spearheaded by House Black Caucus Chairman Representative Rita Mayfield (D – Waukegan) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) , provides $600 million from the Education Assistance Funds (EAF) for operations funding for all nine public universities, the Illinois Math and Science Academy and the City Colleges of Chicago.

“This is not the answer; this is just the start of the conversation,” said Rep. Mayfield. “We need to work together to put people first. People are suffering, and it’s our responsibility to pass a budget and keep universities open and keep social service programs operational.”

The measure provides base operation and equalization grants for community colleges and MAP Grants.

“We’ve been fighting the governor since last May to keep the doors of our great institu...

April 20, 2016

SPRINGFIELD – Since Illinois’ budget impasse began more than eight months ago, more than 1,500 youth across the state have been kicked out of after-school programs that previously received funding from the Teen REACH program. Teen REACH provides grants to support local communities’ after-school programs that serve at-risk youth age 6 to 17.

“Study after study highlights the direct link between investing in after-school programs and higher levels of student success and lower rates of crime,” State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “This is especially true in some of our most impoverished neighborhoods and communities.”

Hutchinson passed a plan out of the Senate yesterday that ensures the state makes quality after-school programs a priority, requiring the Department of Human Services to award grants to community-based agencies providing after-school services to youth. Teen REACH funding has been cut off since Illinois’ budget impasse began in July and was not included in t...

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