Preschool ClassroomSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) passed a measure out of the Senate today that would create additional avenues for preschool teachers to get licensed while still maintaining criteria to ensure teachers are highly qualified.

“We know the importance of ensuring that every child from every zip code has access to high-quality preschool programs,” Hutchinson said. “Data confirms that access to these vital programs can have lifelong positive effects, leading to lower chances of becoming a teen parent or being arrested for violent crime and leading to higher rates of high school graduation and college attendance.”

Hutchinson’s proposal, contained in Senate Bill 1829, would allow an instructor to teach preschool children in early childhood programs if he or she holds a Professional Educator License or is working towards his or her license and has been credentialed by the state.

Senate Bill 1829 would work towards addressing the shortage of qualified preschool teachers available in Illinois. In rural and urban areas especially, the shortage is even more pronounced. Data from the Illinois State Board of Education for the 2017-2018 school year showed around 2,000 teaching positions left unfilled.

“We know early experiences matter for young children. And those experiences are shaped by their parents, caregivers and teachers,” said Jonathan Doster, Policy Manager with the Ounce of Prevention Fund. “We remain committed to ensuring that more early childhood professionals are able to continue their education and work toward their Professional Educator License. Senate Bill 1829 will provide the short-term relief needed to address the teacher shortage issue. More importantly, Senate Bill 1829 makes it clear that Illinois must move quickly to remove barriers and create pathways to ensure we have more licensed early childhood educators to fill our Preschool for All classrooms once the provisions of the bill sunset."

Senate Bill 1829 passed the Senate this afternoon without opposition and will now head to the Illinois House for further debate.

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