Illinois legislators send proposed education bills

January 26, 2021

Illinois lawmakers on Jan. 12 have sent a bill that changes the way Black history is taught in schools and how kindergarten children are tested as well as new resources for students. 

Two new programs would be implemented as well, the Whole Child Task Force and Freedom Schools, which will provide more opportunities and resources for Black students. 

The Whole Child Task Force will recognize childhood trauma, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the issues for vulnerable children.

The Freedom Schools program will focus on teaching Black history, creating state grants for Black students, understanding the civil rights movement, and establishing leadership skills. The program is targeted to school districts with a large population of minority students to level the playing field. 

This legislation will also create a new resource for early childhood education programs throughout the state. 

The bill will assess children going into kindergarten on their language, math, literacy, and social and emotional skills. The bill will not prohibit any child from entering into kindergarten, but rather act as an aide for the student if learning resources are needed. 

Kimberly Lightford, the Illinois Senate Majority Leader (D-IL 4th District), believes that this bill will provide Black students the resources to reach their goals.

“This pillar explores our state’s education system through the lens of systemic racism, to identify the best ways to bring an end to inequities and curriculums or practices that often do more to cause racial division than support the needs of our most vulnerable children and young adults in all marginalized, poverty-stricken communities,” Lightford said.

The bills have been passed to Governor J.B. Pritzker to sign.

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