A preschool teacher engages students in a lesson.
CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that aims to strengthen education in Illinois. The new laws support early childhood education funding and make it easier to give incentives for teacher excellence.
“The period from birth to three years of age is the most critical time in a child’s development and we must do all we can to give our youngest residents the education they need to succeed in life,” Quinn said. “We should also let our top educators know how much we appreciate their efforts, especially when those teachers serve the areas of our state with the greatest need.”
House Bill 4440 increases the percentage of Early Childhood Education Block Grant program funds that must be set aside for children ages birth to 3. The bill raises that percentage from 11 to 14 percent in fiscal year 2015, and to 20 percent by fiscal year 2016. The block grants are distributed by the State Board of Education. The legislation is effective July 1.
House Bill 5393 streamlines the requirements to provide a $1,500 annual incentive to teachers who achieve Illinois Master Teacher certification through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Priority for the incentives will be given to teachers in low-performing schools or those in districts with high poverty rates. The legislation is effective July 1.
Quinn’s five-year budget blueprint includes a historic $6 billion increase in classroom spending over the next five years, doubling the investment in college scholarships for students in need and increasing access to higher education through dual enrollment and early college programs.