lightford committee aprilSPRINGFIELD - 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 565 will now move to the House for consideration.

Category: News

lightford apr 21 2016SPRINGFIELD – In response to legislation (SB 2059) providing much-needed funds to Illinois universities to keep their doors open passing the General Assembly today, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood) released the following statement.

“We will not let our colleges and universities wither away. The Community College Board and our institutions like Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University and Western Illinois University deserve the funding in this legislation and more.

“This is a start, but the governor also needs to look at legislation already on his desk and Senate Bill 2047, which the Senate passed today, that would provide higher education funding and critical relief for human services, such as cancer screenings, HIV/AIDS services and health prevention.

“If the higher education funding legislation that passed out of the General Assembly is indeed signed into law, this is a small victory, but the leaders of our state have more work to do.”

Category: News

lightford floor aprilSPRINGFIELD- 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.

Category: News

lightford closeup 2016SPRINGFIELD – In response to legislation filed today restructuring the Illinois school funding formula, State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood) released the following statement.

Fairness in our school funding formula has been a topic of legislative debate and revision for decades, yet education equality remains elusive. At some point, justice has to become more than a promise. It must become a reality for all kids.

Senator Manar has worked tirelessly with leaders on both sides of the aisle and from all sides of the funding debate to construct a bill that takes the well-being of every student, every school and every district into account. It’s not too late for us to do what we should have done decades ago – pass fair education reform worthy of our students.

Like previous versions of education formula reform, such as SB 1, schools with fewer resources will receive more funding under the new version of the plan, but this legislation also allows more districts to qualify for additional funding through a widened adequacy grant, institutes a complete hold harmless for the next fiscal year and creates an evidence-based panel to oversee implementation of any changes.

The legislation is filed as Senate Bill 231.

Category: News

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