SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) was appointed to serve as the House Republican chairman of the Literacy Improves Future Endeavors working group by Illinois House Republican Leader Tony McCombie back in February of this year. Since that time, Rep. Severin and his House GOP colleagues have met several times hearing from educational advocates and interested stakeholders, taking testimony and building a comprehensive legislative package aimed at improving educational outcomes, advancing literacy, and addressing current teacher shortages that are harming students in Illinois public schools.
“Pandemic-era lockdowns have really harmed the development of our school children, especially our youngest students in the area of literacy proficiency,” Severin said. “We’ve seen test scores dropping through the floor and too many students being left behind. The legislative package that I’m helping to sponsor takes direct aim at these learning gaps and tackles the tough issue of teacher shortages.”
The members of the LIFE working group unveiled a sweeping legislative package that includes the following bills.
HB 4070 (Severin) – Requires ISBE to develop a comprehensive State literacy plan that includes, at a minimum, the following:
- Developing class size goals for grade K-6 classrooms
- Developing a comprehensive reading teacher content area test
- Establishing a grant program for districts to hire reading and literacy specialists and coaches
- Establishing a grant program for districts to provide bonuses to teachers that receive the reading teacher endorsement on their current license.
HB 4067 (Swanson) – Provide that professional development providers may offer opportunities on reading/literacy instruction•
HR 256 (Swanson) Establishes May 7 through May 13 as “Read with Your Kids” Week referencing the Dolly Parton “Imagination Library”
HB 4069 (Friess) creates a Temporary Teacher Apprenticeship Program as an alternative pathway to licensure and establishes foreign language endorsements for those fluent in the foreign language to teach foreign language courses
HB 4068 (Schmidt) – Extend the sunset date for additional return to service for retired teachers.
HB 1213 (Caulkins) – creates scholarship program for teachers to get master’s degree in order to increase dual credit courses.
HB 1297 (Elik) – TRS optional credit for private school teachers.
HB 4066 (Weaver) -Creates the Parent Advisory Committee within ISBE to study and make recommendations on proposed teaching and learning standards o Requires school boards to have policy in place to allow parents/guardians to review curricula and learning material.