Illinois state capitol

The final week of legislative session is a sprint. The General Assembly’s big focus is wrapping up the budget for the new fiscal year. There are plenty of priorities included, but we are focused on a few and wanted to flag them for you.

Of course, we are aiming to continue boosting Evidence-Based Funding yet again. We expect that number to land at $350 million in new funding but continue to urge the legislature to accelerate that investment to close the funding gap more quickly.

We’re also focused on these budget priorities. We hope you’ll join us and ask your legislators to support these issues in the FY24 budget!

  • $3.15 million to grow Dual Credit opportunities across the state and to expand equitable access to these life – and career! – changing courses. Let’s support their futures!
  • $3 million to support the Minority Teachers of Illinois scholarship program. This will help address the teacher shortage AND increase the gender and racial diversity in the teacher corps, something that’s especially important for students of color to see representation like that in their classrooms.

We’ve got our work cut out for us, friends. With your help, and the help of folks across the state, I’m confident we can make a positive impact for Illinois youth and families in the new budget.

Illinois state capitol

Last week was a whirlwind at the Capitol and we’ve got progress to show for it! The pace was fast and furious all week, with a Friday deadline spurring legislators to debate bills well into the night.

The good news? Three bills in the ‘Literacy and Justice for All’ bill package passed the House or the Senate on Friday!

We couldn’t have done this without you! Advocates continue to send a strong signal to Springfield that these initiatives have deep support across the state. This month, we’ve sent over 1,500 emails to legislators in support of literacy and youth justice. (Did you send yours yet? Click these links and check it off your to-do list!)

A quick update on where things stand with these (and a few other momentous bills we’re supporting!):

  • Early Literacy: HB2872 and SB2243, bills instructing the State Board of Education to create a statewide literacy plan, and HB3147, the comprehensive Literacy and Justice for All bill to help fix the literacy crisis, passed their first major hurdle! (That is, the House bills passed the House and the Senate bill passed the Senate. Now they will switch places and work their way through the other chamber.)
  • Youth Justice: SB1463 and HB3120 passed committee and we anticipate a floor vote in the Senate this week. The bills would eliminate juvenile court fees and fines, a step toward economic justice for our state.
  • Full-Day Kindergarten: HB 2396 requires school districts to offer full-day kindergarten by 2027. It passed the House and moves to the Senate.
  • Trauma-Responsive Schools: HB 342 responds to the Whole Child Task Force, created by the Legislative Black Caucus’s historic “education pillar” two years ago. Under the bill, which passed the House, the state would develop a Children’s Adversity Index, make licensure recommendations to ensure teachers are prepared to support children with trauma, and add ratios of social workers to the school report card.
  • Dual-Credit Teacher Shortage: HB 1213 passed the House, creating a scholarship program for teachers to pursue the coursework needed to teach Dual Credit.

We will keep you posted as things continue to move in Springfield. Get ready for more advocacy opportunities to keep up the growing momentum on our legislative priorities!

Thank you for your partnership and support.

I love the reaction we’ve received to the student videos released last week. Their amazing experiences with Dual Credit courses, and the bright futures they all have ahead of them in college and career, show the vast potential of these game-changing courses.

Those stories are inspiring. I know there are more just like them, or could be, if we work together and broaden access to advanced courses like Dual Credit.

That’s where Stand’s Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit comes in. We released the toolkit a year ago in the hopes of giving Illinoisans at every level of the education system – parents, students, educators, administrators, community members – the tools they need to grow Dual Credit’s impact in their school. Folks have put it to use and added to their own stories.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to explore the Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit. It offers a step-by-step guide to bring Dual Credit to your school, grow an existing program, or even help guide educators through the steps of gaining required certification. It really has something for everyone!

Dig into the Toolkit and use it to add to your own Dual Credit story. I can’t wait to hear what you accomplish. As always, if we can help lend a hand, please reach out. We’re always happy to help grow Dual Credit across the state.

Thumbnail from Dual Credit Student Success Stories video

Over the past few years, we’ve really seen the difference that Dual Credit courses are making for students across Illinois. As more high school students take these advanced classes, fewer students needed costly remedial classwork in community college.

Dual Credit’s impact is real. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Take it from real Illinois students who experienced the benefits of Dual Credit courses firsthand.

Payton will save time and money as she transitions directly to the nursing program in college.

Jessa knew the collaboration between her high school and community college created unique opportunities.

Riley’s online courses helped put her on the fast-track to get into the workforce sooner.

Each of these students graduated high school with an associate degree, setting them on a course for future success.

These Illinois students are living examples of what Dual Credit courses can do for individuals and school communities alike. Through our partnership with Vienna High School, Stand had a unique opportunity to hear directly from these students about their experiences in Dual Credit courses. What we heard was inspiring. I encourage you to watch for yourself. We’re seeing more and more that when districts commit to Dual Credit, great things can happen. And as we look to the future to set up more students for success in an ever-changing economic landscape, Dual Credit remains a significant accelerator to that success.

Illinois has made progress when it comes to the positive impacts made by Dual Credit courses. Demand for students continues to rise, and many districts across the state are seeing the benefits of forging strong partnerships with community colleges and local employers.

To help foster those partnerships and get a better understanding of what folks think about Dual Credit courses, we decided to ask them. Together with our partner organizations, we surveyed students, parents, educators, administrators, and professionals in the secondary and postsecondary fields to get their thoughts.

Over 1,000 individuals responded, giving us clear insight into the opinions of folks directly involved with Dual Credit. We learned a lot, and that information will help inform our advocacy for better policies moving forward.

  • 97% of student respondents said they benefitted from participating in Dual Credit
  • 73% of postsecondary respondents believe that colleges benefit from offering Dual Credit
  • 83% of respondents said that Dual Credit courses are high quality and rigorous

One secondary faculty member said that, “[Dual Credit is] a win win! Students are challenged yet the amount of credit hours received are not based on one test like AP courses so if a student works hard and displays throughout the semester they are learning, they are rewarded.”

A parent of a Dual Credit student added, “My son has the opportunity to dive into Engineering before he gets into college. This is invaluable!”

You can see more input like this in our Survey Briefs. They provide data and feedback from the Dual Credit community, as well as suggestions for improving Dual Credit programs in classrooms across Illinois.

We hope you’ll dive into the results and learn how all of us can continue building on the progress we’ve made for improving Dual Credit outcomes.

Get the full details in the survey briefs:

IL state capitol

Governor Pritzker signed the budget this week, securing another $350 million for Evidence-Based Funding! Legislators adjourned early in the morning just under two weeks ago, bringing the spring 2022 legislative session to a close. Here’s a quick wrap-up on our priority issues and some next steps.

Expanding Access to Dual Credit: Both the Illinois House and Senate unanimously passed a bill to boost access to Dual Credit courses and give districts flexibility to launch and grow their own Dual Credit programs. If you haven’t already, take a moment to thank the legislators who led the way in the General Assembly.

Improving Literacy Outcomes: We’re collaborating with education advocates and our fellow members of the Illinois Early Literacy Coalition to improve the Right to Read Act so that it works for all students. We’ll be convening this summer with experts and leaders in the literacy field to ensure the bill is as strong as possible, with the goal of passing it later this year or next spring.

Growing CTE Collaboration and Access: House lawmakers approved a Resolution make access more equitable to Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses and to facilitate the partnerships needed for successful CTE programs to flourish. Join me and thank the lawmakers who made this House Resolution a priority.

Enacting Economic Security: In the fight for racial justice, Stand joined the Coalition to Make EIC Work, a group of dedicated organizations and advocates that fought to expand the Earned Income Credit. Lawmakers enacted a budget including a permanent expansion of the EIC, providing direct tax relief to more than 4.5 million working Illinois families. The Coalition will continue fighting to create a permanent Child Tax Credit.

Fighting for Youth Justice: The work with our partners in the Debt Free Justice Campaign continues as we grow our coalition and refine the bill to help make the most impact for Illinois youth and their families by eliminating juvenile court fees and fines. We know that creating a brighter future for us all includes ensuring our juvenile court system is just and fair for everyone, and aimed towards healing, youth development, and reducing recidivism.

Thank you for everything you did this spring to help ensure positive results for Illinois children and families. The work continues, and I know you’ll be there as we take those next steps soon.

Today marks the final day of spring legislative session here in Springfield.

Before things officially wind down, I’m happy to report that both the Senate and House unanimously approved a bill to boost student access to Dual Credit courses and flexibility for districts to launch and grow their own Dual Credit programs. Thanks to advocacy from folks like you, we’re just one signature from Gov. Pritzker away from helping better prepare students for life after high school thanks to these life-changing courses.

I hope you’ll join me and send a quick thank you note to the legislative leaders who championed this Dual Credit policy in the General Assembly. Take action with one click!

We’ll be in touch as things wrap up in Springfield, but in the meantime let’s thank these legislators for standing with Illinois Dual Credit students and their educators.

The next two weeks in Springfield will be a whirlwind of activity. Session is scheduled to end on April 8, so the clock is very much ticking.

The bill we support to help increase Dual Credit access and flexibility for districts is nearing the finish line in Springfield. Earlier this month it passed the Illinois House without a single “no” vote and now needs to pass the Senate.

We need your help to boost support for Dual Credit students and educators. Tell your senator to support HB5506 and stand up for equitable access to Dual Credit courses.

The promise of Dual Credit courses is immense. They help prepare students for life after high school and can earn them early college credit. Districts need the flexibility to launch and grow Dual Credit programs with their available teachers while still respecting the quality standards of traditional Dual Credit coursework.

Now is the time for us to show Springfield the deep support for this bill from advocates just like you.

IL state capitol

With just under a month left in the current legislative session, I’m happy to report that one of our legislative priorities passed the Illinois House earlier this week. Legislators signaled their support for a House Resolution to improve Career and Technical Education (CTE) collaboration and course access.

We’re grateful to you for your advocacy and to the Representatives who showed their strong support as sponsors. This resolution takes a bold step toward improving equitable access to CTE courses and facilitating the partnerships needed for successful CTE programs to flourish.

The research tells us that CTE partnerships work. Students who complete CTE programs are more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college. This resolution sends a strong signal in support of these vital programs.

Will you join us in thanking the lawmakers who led the way as sponsors of the House Resolution?

It’s hard to think of a more immersive training than the hands-on, work-based learning that Illinois students receive in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. These courses preview what a future career might look like.

Engaging and successful CTE programs rely on close partnerships with both employers and colleges. Local employers bring work-based learning to students so they can explore high-wage career paths in their communities. Colleges, through things like Dual Credit courses, help students get started on their college coursework while still in high school.

We can help facilitate these partnerships by supporting a new Illinois House Resolution. Your support today will build the momentum for this thoughtful resolution to improve CTE collaboration and course access. Take action now!

The research tells us that CTE partnerships work. Students who complete CTE programs are more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college.

Yet, improving access to CTE courses in underserved populations continues to be a challenge. The House Resolution, HR582, would study how to better facilitate the partnerships needed for successful CTE programs and also make recommendations intended to bring equitable access so more students can benefit from high-quality CTE programs.

Support for CTE courses means support for high school grads and their future careers. I hope you’ll join us and stand with them today.