SPRINGFIELD –School districts will be required to operate with more transparency about their teacher employment data under a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) that became law Friday.

“Public school class sizes have been growing larger and larger over the last several years, which makes it harder for educators to provide the quality education,” Peters said. “Communities of color are hit particularly hard by this. These students are already at a systemic disadvantage, and they deserve to have the opportunity to learn the skills they need to succeed.”

House Bill 254 requires all school districts, including the Chicago Public Schools, to report their teacher employment data, including student-to-teacher ratio and number of teachers employed by the districts. Districts must submit their reports to the Illinois State Board of Education by Nov. 16, 2020. The bill was an initiative of Raise Your Hand Action.

“Requiring school districts to report this data allows parents to be stronger advocates for their community’s schools,” Peters said. “This will lead to better conditions in the classroom, both for teachers and their students.”

The bill is effective immediately.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Entering an apprenticeship program often requires expensive fees, tuition and tools, but eligible youth could have those associated costs covered thanks to a bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) that became law today.

“It’s too often a person who otherwise wants to start an apprenticeship and take the first steps toward self-sustainability is unable to because they can’t afford the upfront cost of starting an apprenticeship,” Peters said. “This could result in them having no choice but to find a job in a field with lower wages or fewer benefits. Youth in care often lead difficult lives, and we should strive to make it easier for the kids aging out of the system by tearing down the systemic barriers that hold them back.”

New apprentices often are required to pay for fees, tuition, clothing and tools required as they begin in their chosen occupation. Senate Bill 1525 requires the Department of Children and Family Services to establish a stipend program that will cover the upfront costs associated with entering an apprenticeship. The stipend would be provided to youth who are currently a responsibility of DCFS, who aged out of care upon reaching the age of 18, or who were formerly in DCFS and were adopted or placed in guardianship.

The bill also requires DCFS to develop a plan to increase awareness of the program.

The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, was approved by both chambers of the General Assembly with unanimous bipartisan support.

Category: Press Releases

CHICAGO – Incarcerated people who are soon due for release will have an opportunity to receive civic education under a new law sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“This is the first step toward building and expanding on the civic rights of folks in prisons and jails,” Peters said. “The voices of the folks returning from incarceration are crucial in the fight for mass liberation and breaking the systemic cycle of mass incarceration, which is why it’s important that we allow those voices to be heard.”

House Bill 2541 creates the Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act, which directs the Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice to provide peer-led civics programs throughout Illinois correctional facilities to incarcerated people who will be released within 12 months. The programs’ curricula will consist of voting rights, governmental institutions, current affairs, and simulations of voter registration, election, and democratic processes. The law mandates the content of the programs be non-partisan.

The bill was signed by Gov. JB Pritzker today after having passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly with strong, bipartisan support. It is effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – The Department of Corrections will no longer be able to sue former inmates for the cost of their incarceration under a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“‘Pay to stay’ is indentured servitude,” Peters said. “These folks served their time and were released from prison, so their punishment should be over. There’s no reason to continue punishing them and risk sabotaging their return to society by imposing a financial burden.”

House Bill 900 prevents the Department of Corrections from suing formerly incarcerated people for costs associated with their incarceration. The bill extends a restriction which already exists in certain jurisdictions to apply statewide.

Peters also noted the structural disadvantages that the “pay to stay” system reinforces.

“This practice affects people and communities of color at a wildly disproportionate rate,” Peters said. “It is a regressive, harmful, and predatory action that places additional undue hardships on folks who, at no fault of their own, are already at a disadvantage at birth due to the unjust systemic racial biases that exist. ‘Pay to stay’ has no place in a just society, and I’m proud to have led the charge in the Senate to end it. I commend the governor for taking the necessary actions to abolish it once and for all.”

The law, which is effective immediately, was signed by Gov. JB Pritzker today.

Category: Press Releases

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