ChildrenInSportsCHICAGO – To highlight the importance of equitable access to school sports programs, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) participated in a virtual panel with Laureus USA alongside athletes and other community leaders.

“Sports can be an enriching outlet for students when it comes to both their physical and mental health,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Unfortunately, students from financially insecure households, LGBTQ youth and girls are more likely to drop out before age 13. Removing barriers for these kids to stick with sports is an important goal.”

Sports not only help children keep fit – they also allow young people to make better social connections and develop stronger social-emotional skills. However, according to Laureus USA, 70% of young people drop out of sports by age 13, with many children saying they stopped having fun or their family could no longer afford fees and equipment.  

During Friday’s panel, Pacione-Zayas joined State Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago); Luol Deng, a Chicago Bulls Alumni; Michael Johnson, an Olympic champion; and Merary Flores and Amy Mummery from America SCORES Chicago to address the challenges young people face when accessing sports programs.

“Addressing the barriers kids face to access sports will require a two-pronged approach,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Making sure children have well-trained coaches who can help them in their development and helping families afford to stay involve through grant programs will be imperative.”

Learn more about initiatives to keep children in sports through the America SCORES Chicago program here. Watch a recording of Friday’s panel here.

Category: Press Releases

TribePressConferenceSPRINGFIELD – In a Wednesday press conference, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) joined members of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation to introduce a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to recognize the illegal selling of the Shab-eh-nay reservation in 1849.

“As U.S. inhabitants, it’s important to recognize the indigenous communities who called this land home before us and continue to call it home,” Pacione-Zayas said. “The land of Chief Shab-eh-nay and his band was illegally sold, and recognition of this act of injustice by the federal government will begin to repair the harm and ensure that the land is recognized as reserved for the Potawatomi people in northern Illinois.”

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe that occupied lands in southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. They signed the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien, which reserved two sections of land near Paw Paw Grove, Illinois for Potawatomi Chief Shab-en-nay and his band.

The Potawatomi people were forcefully removed from their land in the 1830s, and in 1849, while Chief Shab-eh-nay was away visiting family in Kansas, the U.S. General Land Office illegally sold the land and passed the title to non-natives.

“We're grateful to Senator Pacione-Zayas for her support as we work to reclaim the land that was taken from us in the most community-focused, least disruptive way possible," said Chairman Joseph Rupnick. "We're rooted in the northern Illinois community and after 170 years, we just want this issue resolved."

The U.S. Department of the Interior recognizes over 1,000 acres in northern Illinois as the Shab-eh-nay Reservation, and a bill in the U.S. Senate would secure this land for the Potawatomi people.

Pacione-Zayas’ Senate Resolution 896 urges the U.S. Senate to pass the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Shab-eh-nay Band Reservation Act of 2021 to help right the wrongs of the past.

SR 896 awaits assignment to a committee.

Category: Press Releases

TestSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) advanced a measure to ensure Illinois’ youngest students are not subject to developmentally inappropriate standardized tests. The legislation passed the Senate on Thursday.  

“Young children are developing at rapid and different rates. Standardized tests aren’t able to accurately measure where a student may be based on the set parameters,” Pacione-Zayas said. “By allowing teachers to focus on how children play and interact, educators will be able to gauge student development better than a standardized test will.”

Senate Bill 3986, or the Too Young to Test Act, would ensure the Illinois State Board of Education does not develop or administer standardized tests for students Pre-K through second grade, except for the case of diagnostic and screening tests including determining eligibility for special education services, bilingual services, dyslexia interventions, observational tools like the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, and the federally mandated English Learner assessments.

Currently, the federal government only mandates standardized tests from third grade and on, although ISBE is currently considering allowing optional standardized tests for younger students.

"Standardized testing used for annual accountability purposes in older grades is not valid and reliable for children under age 8. It's not required by federal law, and it's not wanted by the majority of parents and educators who know that standardized testing isn't developmentally appropriate in early childhood,” said Cassie Creswell, director of Illinois Families for Public Schools. “We need to protect those years from further encroachment by high-stakes tests."

SB 3986 passed the Senate Thursday and moves to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

021622CM0860SPRINGFIELD – To offer students more options following graduation from high school, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) advanced two measures out of the Senate Wednesday.

“Many students are pushed toward college from a young age, but it’s important for them to know that there are other options if that’s not what they want to do,” Pacione-Zayas said. “From furthering education in the trades or going straight into a career, these young adults deserve to know what else is out there.”

Senate Bill 3990 requires school counseling services to include Career and Technical Education to help students consider secondary education plans following high school. Notably, provisions in Illinois’ Clean and Equitable Job Act will create new opportunities for technical jobs in the clean energy sector.

Additionally, Senate Bill 3988 passed the Senate, which lowers the age for paraprofessionals in Pre-K through eighth grade classrooms to 18 years old, rather than 19. There are currently 1,242 unfilled paraprofessional positions in school districts across the state, and this legislation would open the door to filling those positions with additional qualified candidates.

“Addressing the teacher and teacher aid shortage is crucial to getting students the individualized support they need,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Aside from giving recent graduates additional options for careers right out of school, this measure will help get more educators into classrooms.”

SB 3990 and SB 3988 passed the Senate Wednesday and moves to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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