Lawmakers approve kindergarten reform, plan to address childhood literacy

Lawmakers approve kindergarten reform, plan to address childhood literacy

By ANDREW ADAMS
Capitol News Illinois
aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com

CHICAGO – Lawmakers are looking at several ways to improve learning outcomes and access for young students in Illinois.

On Thursday, members of the House of Representatives approved a proposal that would require school boards in Illinois to provide full-day kindergarten starting with the 2027-2028 school year.

The measure, House Bill 2396, was met with bipartisan, though not universal, support, passing out of the House on Thursday on an 87-23 vote.

“I think we can all recognize that our children are our most important resource in the state of Illinois,” Mary Beth Canty, D-Arlington Heights, said on the House floor Thursday. “As we look to move forward with our pre-K program and the governor’s smart start program, I hope we can recognize that kindergarten is a pivotal piece of a child’s learning journey.”

Some lawmakers were uneasy with the potential cost implications for local school districts, particularly stemming from potential increases in staffing needs and facility space requirements.

“When this goes into effect in 2027, are we going to be ramped up enough to be able to provide additional teachers throughout kindergartens across Illinois?” Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha, said during debate over the bill.

The worry about funding is echoed by some in the education field, including the Illinois Association of School Administrators, or IASA. The association recorded its opposition to an earlier form of the bill when it went through committee earlier this month alongside the Illinois Association of School Boards and the Illinois Principals Association.

IASA chief of staff Emily Warnecke said in an interview that her organization supports the movement toward full-day kindergarten around the state. But she said they are still concerned about a requirement that would force districts to raise their own capital funding to expand school facilities to accommodate full-day programs.

“The vast majority of districts who don’t offer (full-day kindergarten), don’t offer it because they don’t have the space,” Warnecke said.

Currently, about 80 percent of districts in Illinois offer full-day kindergarten, according to Canty.

The bill sets up a “Full-Day Kindergarten Task Force” to study the best way to implement the expansion of full-day kindergarten. The task force will also be responsible for determining the criteria for districts’ eligibility for a two-year extension to the deadline for rolling out full-day kindergarten.

Canty said in an interview that she is working on securing funding for the expansion.

“I have had some really great conversations with the budgeteers here in the House and with the governor’s team,” she said. 

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. 

 

Literacy improvements

On Friday, the Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 2243 from Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester, that would require the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a “comprehensive literacy plan.”

In 2022, nearly 38 percent of Illinois’ 4th grade students did not meet grade level reading standards, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. This is roughly average and is not significantly lower than the nation’s overall reading scores.

“Today’s students who struggle to read are tomorrow’s adults — adults who desperately need literacy to sign a lease agreement, fill out a job application, manage their own health care, support their children’s education and participate in democracy,” Lightford said on the Senate floor Friday.

Deborah MacPhee, a researcher and professor at Illinois State University, said early literacy education has become politicized with debates between competing systems of reading instruction.

MacPhee said she liked that the bill requires the plan to involve “education stakeholders.” She said this will contribute to the ongoing conversation around what sorts of educational programs teachers should use.

In a 2022 study published in the journal Reading Horizons, MacPhee and her team found that 97 percent of Illinois teachers use phonics in their classrooms to teach reading. Despite the near universal adoption of this method, there is diversity across the state as to what programs are being used. Of the 80 percent of teachers using published curriculum for their phonics instruction, at least 41 different programs are used.

“We have to be educating teachers to be using programs effectively,” she said. 

Lightford’s plan is not the only bill at the Statehouse in recent weeks aimed at improving childhood literacy. Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, introduced a bill that would require schools to use phonics to teach reading, though it was met with pushback from teachers’ unions.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

 

Leave a Comment





Local News

Andre Showers’ fiancée Destiny pins the police badge on his uniform at last week’s Hickory Hills City Council meeting. (Photos by Nuha Abdessalam)

Hickory Hills adds new police officer

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Nuha Abdessalam Hickory Hills Police Chief Jason Bray welcomed Andre Showers as the city’s newest police officer during last week’s city council meeting. Aldermen and the community at the April 11 meeting helped celebrate the induction of the Showers, 21. He’s an Army veteran and a 2023 Cook County Correctional Camp graduate…

Marist High School, 4200 W. 115th St., Chicago, hosted its second annual Celebration of Culture Night on March 14. (Supplied photo)

Marist celebrates cultural diversity

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Marist High School appreciates the wide array of culture that walks its campus hallways on a daily basis. In order to celebrate, the high school, 4200 W. 115th St., Chicago, hosted its second annual Celebration of Culture on March 14. During the free event, students, faculty and staff represented their…

regional 4-16-24 gigi's playhouse

Palos Heights Knights of Columbus donate to GiGi’s Playhouse

Spread the love

Spread the loveGrand Knight John Laskey and Past Grand Knight Brian Mellenthin of St. Theodore Guerin Knights of Columbus Council 14057 presented a check for $1,500 to GiGi’s Playhouse of Tinley Park, one of several donations to local groups resulting from the Knights of Columbus’ Fall Tootsie Roll Drive. One of the most recognizable activities…

reporter worth police car

Worth police join task force to combat auto thefts

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle An agreement has been reached between the villages of Worth and Thornton regarding participation in the Illinois Statewide Auto Theft Task Force. Worth Police Chief Tim Denton said the approval of the memorandum to participate in the task force is necessary. “It’s no secret that there has been an increase…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound April 17, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Mary Stanek

A simple idea for Earth Day

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place •  (773) 517-7796 . Moving right along through April, as the days get longer and nicer, time will start to go by faster. We have Earth Day on April 22 and the start of Passover at sunset.…

Kathy Headley

Bingo at St. Clare was something to yell about

Spread the love

Spread the love. Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 . Recently I mentioned a bingo fundraiser the Augustinian Young Adults of St. Rita of Cascia Parish were holding. This was their first attempt at a bingo and they put on a really nice event. Held…

Peggy Zabicki

One thing is certain: life goes on

Spread the love

Spread the love. Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . I get a lot of calls from residents who are discouraged about our neighborhood. There are so many car accidents, shootings and violent crimes being committed in West Lawn and surrounding areas. It certainly is challenging to stay hopeful and positive. Here is a paragraph…

The logosof the United Business Association of Midway. --Supplied image

Biz groups battle over names, logos

Spread the love

Spread the love. UBAM, MCC trade barbs . By Dermot Connolly and Tim Hadac The leader of one Midway-area business association is accusing the other of bad faith, and the leader of the other is scratching her head over the dustup. United Business Association of Midway Executive Director Anita Cummings recently claimed that a rival…

BesonenBookCover2024

Chicago Lawn native’s book is ‘off the hook’

Spread the love

Spread the love. Longtime journalist shares humor columns . By Tim Hadac Nancy (Emerson) Besonen has made a career as a news reporter and humor columnist for a weekly paper in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. But her roots are in Chicago Lawn, and it showed during a recent conversation. Like most true Southwest Siders, she didn’t…

Neighbors

Swanson scores, assists in Red Stars’ win over Reign

Spread the love

Spread the loveThe Red Stars improved to 3-1-1 by beating the Seattle Reign, 2-1, on the road on April 21. Mallory Swanson had an assist on an Ali Schlegel goal in the fourth minute and added a goal of her own in the 31st minute. Swanson missed last season after sustaining a knee injury on…

Tatumn Milazzo, shown at media day before the season started, was amused by winning a Save of the Week award. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Red Stars’ Tatumn Milazzo has top Save of the Week

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Tatumn Milazzo called her achievement “funny.” The Chicago Red Stars defender and Orland Park native was awarded the NWSL’s Save of the Week after chasing down a ball in a loss to Angel City on April 13. The Save of the Week usually goes to a goalie. Milazzo laughed…

A lone white volleyball sitting on a wooden floor

Men’s College Volleyball | Saint Xavier captures fifth straight conference tourney title

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The SXU men’s volleyball team won its fifth straight Chicagoland Christian Athletic Conference tournament championship after a 25-16, 25-17, 25-22 sweep of Calumet College of St. Joseph on April 20 at the Shannon Center. Jan Lopuch had 10 kills and nine digs for the Cougars. With the win, the…

Baseball in a mitt with a black bat low angle selective focus view on a baseball field

College Baseball | Saint Xavier upsets Eastern Illinois

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The Saint Xavier baseball team picked up a win that its players are going to remember for a long time. The Cougars stunned Eastern Illinois, 4-2, on April 17 in Charleston. It was the Cougars’ first win over the Panthers, a Division I program, since 2005. Lyons grad Troy…

A lone white volleyball sitting on a wooden floor

Boys Volleyball | Glenbard West tops Marist to stay unbeaten

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The Marist boys volleyball team, ranked fifth in the nation by USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches, lost to Glenbard West, 25-23, 25-21, in the championship match at the Brother Rice Smack Attack on April 20 in Chicago. Glenbard West (19-0) is the two-time defending state champion and is ranked third…

Alliyah Flores and her St. Laurence teammates earned academic honors by the IBCA. Photo by Jeff Vorva

St. Laurence hoops teams top honor roll

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Area basketball teams proved to be strong on the court and in the classroom this season, and St. Laurence was the leader of the pack. The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association compiled a list of the top academic teams, and the area did well. In Division 3 girls, St. Laurence…

St. Rita's David Lyle won honors from the Chicago Bears. St. Rita photo

Chicago Bears recognize St. Rita senior with All-Star award

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Chances are good that few outside of St. Rita football circles know who David Lyle is. With good reason. Lyle missed his senior season for the Mustangs last fall after sustaining a serious knee injury. He even postponed having knee surgery so that he could take care of his…

CRRNH_CosmoPhotoMDWArmory_032724

Pols want 63rd St. armory for new police HQ

Spread the love

Spread the love. Porfirio, Guerrero-Cuellar push plan in Springfield . By Tim Hadac Any plans the Chicago Department of Aviation may have had for the vacant Army National Guard Midway Armory, 5400 W. 63rd St., may be grounded, at least for now. Several elected officials are eyeing the parcel as the headquarters of a new…

Stacy Cygan. --Supplied photo

Her back against the wall, Stacy needs help

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Tim Hadac Editor Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound (708)-496-0265 . Clearing and Garfield Ridge have earned a reputation as a place where people look out for each other—and that sometimes means caring for each other in times of need. Today, I want to talk about one such person, who sure could use…

CRRNH_OLS3rdGradersWinPizzaParty_042424

It’s (pizza) party time at OLS

Spread the love

Spread the love. Third graders at Our Lady of the Snows School break into cheers as they learn they’ve won a pizza party for selling more raffle booklets than any other class. The recent Grand Raffle fundraiser brought in about $6,000. Parents looking for a grade school for their sons and daughters for 2024-25 are…