Moving Closer to Racial Justice

Civic Action, Legislation | 01/09/2021

Jessica Handy
Government Affairs Director

Illinois and America are facing a reckoning with the systemic racism we have maintained since the country’s beginnings. Many people seem to finally realize that it’s not enough to just “not be racist.” Systemic racism keeps racist systems alive, even if we lived in a world without any racist individuals. We must commit to being anti-racist and push to dismantle those entrenched systems that perpetuate racial inequalities.

Our schools are among society’s most racially inequitable systems. The outgoing Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, has used her skills as an education champion and rockstar negotiator to craft a comprehensive bill to advance racial equity for Illinois students. These changes have an ambitious goal: reversing centuries of systemic racism in education and significantly bolstering opportunities for Black students.

Stand has previously supported many individual concepts in this bill, and now we need to work together to ensure this package becomes law. Raise your voice and tell Springfield to move our state closer to racial and educational justice.

ACT NOW

You can read a comprehensive summary of the bill in a previous blog post, but I wanted to call out a few highlights for you here. This will give you an idea of the great ideas included in this bill and why it must become law.

Academic Acceleration

  • Based on a Washington state law that tripled the percentage of Black high school students in advanced courses, this academic acceleration policy requires schools to automatically enroll students who meet or exceed standards into the next most rigorous course. It removes any element of implicit bias and opens doors for more students to eventually access courses that earn them early college credit.

Equitable Coursework for College Access

  • No matter where they attend high school, all students should have access to the recommended courses needed for admission into any Illinois public university. Yet the guidelines for high school graduation differ greatly from the admissions expectations set at our state’s flagship public universities. Students must have access to all courses expected for college admission and their schools can work creatively to ensure that happens.

Let’s work together, Illinois, to turn great ideas like these into law. This bill would take our state one step closer to dismantling systemic racism and making Illinois classrooms more equitable places. I hope you’ll join us.

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