FILE - Kimberly Lightford, Illinois, 2021

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, leads the Illinois Senate as they gavel in for for session at the Illinois State Capitol, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Springfield, Ill.

(The Center Square) – Legislation has passed the Illinois Senate which the bill’s sponsor says brings hope to new teachers and new principals for support in their first years in their new jobs.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford said the goal of the legislation is to make an investment in high-quality mentoring and induction for new teachers and leaders.

“This about the teachers, this is about the profession, and this is about professional development and making sure we begin to address the teacher shortage,” Lightford said.

State Sen. Darren Bailey noted the bill includes Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards. In Mach, the State Board of Education adopted the same guidelines for classroom instruction, which Bailey contends sets up a teacher who could be forced to violate their own conscious when it comes to exposing students to socially controversial topics.

“I will not vote for a bill that puts more strings attached to our classrooms,” Bailey said. “Its time to start cutting strings and letting teachers teach, so our students can succeed,” Bailey said.

Lightford said the cultural standards underlying the bill are about “creating a learning environment in which students from all different backgrounds feel included and engaged.”

Teachers and principals in their first and second years would be able to qualify for the program beginning in 2025, but the Illinois State Board of Education would prioritize funding for districts that need is the most.

The initiative comes as a result of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ Education and Workforce Pillar in an effort to increase minority participation in the education system.

Bailey said the bill is yet another unfunded, but mandated regulation on local schools.

“Friends, I have had enough of these programs with strings attached that are funded through hard earned tax dollars of the Illinoisans,” Bailey said. “It’s got to stop.”

The bill, which passed by a 36-17 vote, is headed to the House for consideration.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.