pacione zayasSPRINGFIELD – Responding to a crucial need for hundreds more early childhood educators in the coming years, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) passed a plan out of the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday to provide new college degrees and an easier path to training for those already working in the field.

“This is not just about providing a brighter future for our kids, but also the people who are already working so hard to help them learn and grow,” Pacione-Zayas said. “We know that high quality early care and education is key to helping our children realize their full potential. We need to remove barriers by expanding access and affordability in this field to show support for the workforce that cares and educates our youngest while families work and pursue educational goals.”

Senate Bill 1832 will allow Illinois community colleges the option of applying to the Higher Learning Commission for the ability to confer a Bachelor's of Applied Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Colleges could also offer Professional Educator Licenses with early childhood and early childhood special education endorsements. Colleges would also be required to maintain associate-level early childhood education programs.

The legislation sets forth standards that would ensure such programs align with the requirements for four-year institutions. The goal, Pacione-Zayas said, is to expand enrollment statewide, diversify all levels of the early childhood education workforce, and respond to local workforce demands.

Speaking before the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday evening, April Janney, CEO of Illinois Action for Children, said early childhood education providers are experiencing recruitment challenges despite competitive salaries and benefits.

“Early childhood teachers are on the front lines of this pandemic,” Janney said. “This bill will make it easier for them to advance their careers, while it also elevates the quality of learning for children.”

Juan Salgado, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago system, said the legislation responds to urgent, immediate workforce needs in a field where most employees are women of color.

“This is, at the end of the day, about getting the children in this state the qualified educator they need today, not tomorrow,” Salgado said. “This is what we were designed to do as community colleges. This is the value we bring to, in this case, overwhelmingly … women of color.”

After robust discussion, Senate Bill 1832 passed out of the Senate Higher Education Committee and Senator Pacione-Zayas said she will continue negotiations with stakeholders to ensure a systemic solution.


Category: Press Releases

pacione zayas

“This presents us with a chance for transformative change.”

CHICAGO – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas called on the General Assembly to act on recommendations in the report released last week by the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding and spoke on her own plan to increase education pathways and economic stability for early childhood educators.

“The Early Childhood Funding Commission has made our duties clear,” Pacione-Zayas said Thursday. “For the first time, this report clarifies the vision and investments we need to break down the barriers young children face in reaching their full potential.”

Pacione-Zayas worked with the commission as a member of the BUILD Initiative’s Illinois State Team, specifically focusing on the importance of building up the early childhood system in addressing systemic racism.

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Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) led the Illinois Senate in calling on the U.S. Department of Education to waive spring student assessments, as it did in 2020.

“So many students have been learning remotely or in a hybrid system over the past year. Expecting them to run to school for federally required tests just isn’t realistic,” Pacione-Zayas said. “More importantly, without every student in school to take the tests, we won’t be able to get reliable data that allows us to assess and compare progress between schools and districts.”

The Illinois State Board of Education has already announced that it has delayed its normal testing window out of respect for the more than one million students still learning in fully remote environments.

Data from federally required testing is normally used to target supports and improvements for struggling schools and school districts. In the state’s largest school district, Chicago Public Schools, students would potentially be returning to the classroom only to immediately jump into standardized testing.

“We all know this is not a typical year,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Let’s have some compassion for our students and teachers and allow them to use their limited time in the classroom to learn and recover from the trauma of the pandemic, rather than to take stressful tests.”

Senate Resolution 166 was adopted by the Illinois Senate today.

Category: Press Releases

pacione zayas

State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas issued the following statement today following Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget address:

“While the governor’s general approach is commendable given the circumstances, I’m disappointed that he has outlined a plan that doesn’t deliver schools the annual increase in Evidence-based Funding, nor an increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant to protect the early care and education workforce during a time when they have shown up every day to serve students and young children. As the General Assembly begins negotiating on the budget, we will need to seek explicit assurance from the federal government that these funds can be used in the ways they are most needed for our schools.”

Senadora Estatal Cristina Pacione-Zayas dio la siguente declaración despues del discurso de Gubernador JB Pritzker sobre el presupuesto estatal:

"Mientras que el enfoque general del gobernador es positivo dadas las circunstancias, estoy decepcionada de que presentó un plan que no otorga el incremento de presupuesto anual a las escuelas con base en la fórmula Financiamiento-con-Base-en-la-Evidencia. Tampoco el aumento a los fondos a la Educación Temprana que protejen los cuidados tempranos y el entrenamiento a la fuerza laboral, en un tiempo en que han mostrado cada día que sirven a los estudiantes y a los niños pequeños," dijo Pacione-Zayas. "Mientras que la Asamblea General comienza las negociaciones sobre el presupuesto, necesitamos las garantías explicitas y necesarias del gobierno federal de que estos fondos podrán ser usados en las cosas que hacen más falta en nuestras escuelas."

Category: Press Releases

Office Information

Springfield Office:
M120 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8191
District Office:
3140 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 278-2020

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