Contributed article by the Illinois Senate Democrats.
State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, the new chairwoman of the Illinois Senate Education Committee, continued her statewide “Chalk Talk” tour of schools on Monday at Staunton Community Unit School District 6. Bertino-Tarrant and local State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) met with members of the District Improvement Team to discuss the teacher shortage faced by many schools in the area.
“For far too long we have been using legislative Band-Aids as solutions to address the teacher shortage across Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to get to the root of the problem to guarantee our children and teachers have the means to be successful. Visits and discussions like these help me gain a better understanding of how decisions we make in Springfield impact children and educators throughout the state.”
Bertino-Tarrant and Manar have sponsored measures that would make college more affordable for new teachers, making it easier for retired teachers to fill in as substitute teachers and streamlining the teacher licensure process.
“It’s important that the chair of the Senate Education Committee visits smaller towns and schools in Illinois,” Manar said. “Having Senator Bertino-Tarrant here today is valuable because we live in a diverse state, and it’s important that schools in the 48th Senate District are heard in Springfield.”
Manar and Bertino-Tarrant participated in a group discussion led by Staunton Superintendent Dan Cox to address the challenges facing Staunton schools, such as high-class sizes, lack of social-emotional supports for students and a lack of core interventions services.
“Senator Manar and Senator Bertino-Tarrant have long been champions for education,” Cox said. “By them taking the time to visit schools and listen to teachers in the field, it shows their commitment to working with us as partners to build great schools for our young people and our communities.”
Under the new school funding formula championed by Manar and Bertino-Tarrant last year, Staunton Community Unit School District 6 schools will receive an additional $421,337 in state funding.
“In my eighth year as superintendent of schools, this is the first time I have been able to have discussions about how to invest new resources into our schools instead of having discussions about which programs and services to cut,” Cox said.