05262017AM3381RSSPRINGFIELD – To make college more affordable, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is working to increase the availability of dual-credit classes in Illinois.

Bertino-Tarrant’s measure, Senate Bill 3190, requires public universities and community colleges to work with local high schools to grant dual credit to a student who completes an accredited course.

“While the cost of college continues to escalate nationwide, dual credit provides a great economic benefit for families and students by empowering students to accumulate college credit while still in high school,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “As the mother of a sophomore in high school, I know what parents are going through. Like any other parent, I want my children to graduate college full of opportunities, not burdened with student loans.”

Dual credit, which allows students to enroll in postsecondary coursework while still enrolled in high school, is a promising approach to improving academic outcomes for students.

Bertino-Tarrant said it helps prepare students for college coursework while helping them meet general high school requirements.

Research has shown that student participation in dual enrollment curriculum often leads to improved academic outcomes, especially for students from low-income backgrounds as well as first generation college students. Students who enroll in dual-credit courses are more likely to get better grades in high school and pursue a secondary education.

Under this bipartisan proposal, students are allowed to receive up to 60 hours of dual credit. Bertino-Tarrant believes this is a step toward making college more affordable by allowing students to meet general requirements at little to no cost.

“We need to continue to explore ways to make college more affordable and help students graduate without mountains of debt,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

Senate Bill 3190 passed the Senate’s education committee with bipartisan support and now heads to the full senate for consideration.

04252017CM1305rPLAINFIELD – A new law championed by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) will help alleviate the teacher shortage crisis in Illinois.

Bertino-Tarrant’s measure, Senate Bill 863, eases licensure requirements to allow out-of-state educators to be licensed in Illinois if they have already completed comparable state-approved training. It was signed into law last week and will take effect immediately.  

“There are quality educators who want to teach in Illinois classrooms,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This new law is will cut bureaucratic red tape to allow qualified and dedicated teachers to start teaching in our schools without having to jump through extra hoops.”

Senate Bill 863 is an initiative of the State Board of Education that will make Illinois a more attractive home for out-of-state educators by allowing their licenses to transfer to Illinois without forcing them to duplicate certain trainings and applications.  

There are more than 2,000 teacher vacancies in the state, and Bertino-Tarrant believes this new law will help Illinois attract more teachers.

“Teacher shortages are driving up classroom sizes and ultimately shortchanging students,” Bertino-Tarrant said.  “Our classrooms rely on superb teachers. Streamlining the teacher licensure process will help Illinois attract the nation’s best and brightest to guarantee our children are given the best possible educational opportunities.”

WhiteHeadElementary2018ROCKFORD – State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, the new chairwoman of the Illinois Senate’s education committee, continued her statewide “Chalk Talk” tour of schools last week at Whitehead Elementary School.

Seven student ambassadors led Bertino-Tarrant and the school’s local state senator, Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford), on the tour. The students showed off recent gymnasium upgrades, innovative art and music classes and 40,000 new library books among other highlights of the district.

Bertino-Tarrant said she was impressed with the tour and noted on-site visits like this one put her new role as education committee chairwoman into perspective.

“Students of Whitehead Elementary demonstrate passion and take extreme pride in their school, and it is contagious,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to meet with such impressive students to see what their school day looks like. Visits like this help me gain a better understanding on how decisions we make in Springfield impact children and educators throughout the state.”

Rockford-area public schools will receive an additional $9.3 million for the current school year under the new funding formula that was championed by Stadelman and Bertino-Tarrant and passed into law last year.  

“Today’s tour of Whitehead Elementary reinforced my understanding of the tremendous work our teachers and principals do as they deal with the many challenges in today's classrooms," Stadelman said.  “The newly overhauled school funding formula I supported will begin to bring to Rockford the resources necessary to meet those challenges."

Bertino-Tarrant took particular interest in the proactive steps Rockford School District 205 is taking to alleviate local teacher shortages by partnering with Rockford University to provide incentives and training to high school students who would like to learn and work in the community.  

One of Bertino-Tarrant’s legislative priorities for the education committee is working to overhaul the teacher's licensure process to attract new teachers and provide a better support system to give them the tools to succeed.

"There are committed and dedicated educators throughout our state," Bertino-Tarrant said. "It's our duty to assist quality, enthusiastic educators in achieving and maintaining success."

Bertino-Tarrant and Stadelman are grateful for the time Principal Pam Miner and Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarret set aside to meet with them.

“I’m always eager to show off our students, especially so guests can see their school pride firsthand through a student-led tour. I’m grateful our students had the opportunity to meet Sen. Bertino-Tarrant and Sen. Stadelman,” Jarret said.  “As a district, we appreciate their support for both Title I reform and Evidence-Based Funding, because both are critical to our students. We’re looking forward to working more with Sen. Bertino-Tarrant to sustain the commitment to the new state funding model, as well as addressing pressing issues, like teacher and substitute teacher shortages.

Plainfield UBC180424 FLYERPLAINFIELD –State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) will host a utility bill workshop later this month to help Will County residents find savings on utility bills.  

The free event is a joint effort by Bertino-Tarrant’s office and the Citizens Utility Board and it will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, April 24 at the Plainfield Public Library (15025 S. Illinois St., Plainfield).

All participants must bring current copies of their electric, gas and phone bills to take advantage of this free resource.

“This workshop gives families and seniors a resourceful way to find savings in their utility bills,” Bertino-Tarrant said “If they can save even a few dollars a month, it makes a huge difference.”

The workshop will give residents an opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a specialist from CUB to review their gas, electric and phone bills, learn about programs to lower bills, and get tips on making their homes more energy efficient.

Bertino-Tarrant urges residents to call (312) 263-4282 ext. 111 or email: events@citizensutilityboard.org with the subject line: Plainfield 4/24 to register for the workshop to ensure proper accommodations are available for all interested participants.

CUB is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works and advocates for residential utility customers across the state.

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