Illinois state representatives Jesus Garcia and Aaron Ortiz pitched a new legislation on Monday in Chicago to increase the number of bilingual public school teachers of color. Both legislators have introduced bills to increase financial aid for prospective public school teachers and bilingual high school graduates. This comes after García along with Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, and Cory Booker of New Jersey announced the introduction of the DIVERSIFY Act to to create a well-prepared and diversified educator workforce that would double the maximum federal college grants for prospective public school teachers to $8,000 a year.
Ortiz introduced a bill last week in the Illinois General Assembly that would provide a yearly $5,000 college grant for up to 800 high school students who graduate with a state seal of biliteracy, as measured by standardized tests administered by the state. The state recently introduced a public act that allows nonpublic schools to participate in the seal of biliteracy.
According to Ortiz, the two bills pieces of legislation from himself and García are designed to work in tandem to create a “stable homegrown pipeline” of educators that reflect the needs of the state’s diverse student body. “There are many students of color, many of them bilingual, who face challenges accessing a public education, specifically around affordability,” Ortiz said. “This bill tries to address that.” The proportion of students that are either black or Latino at Chicago Public Schools are about half that of teachers in the district, while nearly one in five students is considered an English learner.
About 83% of students in CPS are either black or Latino, compared to 42% of teachers. Nearly one in five students in the district is considered an English learner.