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Should Schools Warn Students About Risks Of ‘Sexting’?

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether sex education teachers should have to warn students about the consequences of “sexting” — sharing or forwarding sexually explicit videos, pictures, and text messages.

After a recent visit to the private Rockford Lutheran School, state Rep. Maurice West, a Democrat from Rockford, said he learned the majority of disciplinary cases for high school students there was for sharing sexually explicit messages and media.

“As I talked to the children they said the only type of conversation they have in school about sex education is what is an STD, and what does it mean to have sex,” West said.

West said minors can face major consequences for sexting. They can be charged with child pornography, and might have to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.

West cited studies that found between 2009 and 2016, 15% of people aged 12-17 sent sexts, 27% received sexts, and 12% forwarded them without consent. West and other lawmakers attribute the rise of sexting to the use of smartphones and other digital communication devices. The legislation would require information about sexting for students in grades 6 through 12.

It would also mandate instruction on internet safety, as predators and human traffickers use sexting to lure, groom and exploit children.

“Our children know a lot more about smartphones than we do,” West said. “It’s time for us to acknowledge that, and have conversations with them so they won’t mess up their lives legally, socially, and academically.”

Unlike the curriculum on internet safety and bullying, the legislation would not create specific guidelines on the content of anti-sexting instruction. Teachers would be allowed to develop their own lessons.

His legislation would only apply to schools that already have sexual education classes, and parents would still have the right to keep their children out.

The legislation is House Bill 4007.


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March 4, 2020 at 06:22PM

State declares February as Career and Technical Education Month

The Illinois Senate adopted Senate Resolution 983 on Feb. 26, declaring February as Career and Technical Education Month in Illinois.

This resolution brings awareness to the career and technical education that prepares students for high-wage, high-demand careers. CTE covers many fields, including healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, hospitality, and more. It encompasses many types of education, from classroom learning to certification programs to work-based learning opportunities outside of the classroom. 

“I have prioritized creating a skilled workforce in Illinois, and it depends on giving students the opportunity to attend high-quality trade schools in our state,” state Sen. Rachelle Crowe said. “We need to be encouraging success from outside a traditional classroom. This resolution works to bring awareness to the vital contributions labor workers provide in economic development efforts. Technical, vocational and trade education strengthens the Metro East at its core.”

Career and technical education delivers options for students pursuing college and rewarding careers; it delivers real-world skills to students, and it delivers a high school experience with more value. Parents and students both want their child or themselves to pursue a career they are passionate about. CTE lets students explore careers and find out what they want, or don’t want, to do after high school. CTE makes the future more affordable by helping families save money and wisely invest their time. CTE students can earn a paycheck, marketable certifications and even earn college credits while in high school, which can lead to better opportunities whether they pursue college or a career. There are a growing number of scholarships designed to help CTE students. 

“Each year, it’s important to recognize the accomplishments and opportunities coming from the world of Career and Technical Education. With career opportunities increasing for those with trade and technical skills, the state of Illinois needs to let students and business owners know that the state will continue promoting and investing in these careers,” state Rep. Monica Bristow said. “As a member of both the Higher Education Committee and the Economic Development committee, I recognize that CTE is an incredible avenue to meaningful and lucrative careers. I am happy to support February as CTE Month to recognize the work being done in the field and increase awareness about the opportunities for those entering the field.”

Career and technical education provides learners with the knowledge and skills they need to be prepared for college and careers. CTE gives purpose to learning by emphasizing real-world skills and practical knowledge within a selected career focus. Students take specialized courses, in addition to required courses, and often have the opportunity to participate in internships, engage with mentors and practice what they are learning through hands-on projects. Students can participate in CTE at the middle school or high school level and at postsecondary institutions. 

“Career and technical education creates meaningful pathways for students that allows them to learn through real-world application, explore career fields, and learn technical and employability skills that will last them a lifetime,” Madison County CTE Director Kaleb Smith said. “One important element of CTE is that it doesn’t limit a student’s future career options, it expands them. Students who utilize CTE programs can follow a path that leads to an industry credential, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or beyond. Going through a CTE program really does help a student find who they are and what they want to be and send a student down a path that leads to a meaningful career.”

For more information, visit or call (618) 656-0415. Madison County Career and Technical Education’s address is 6161 Center Grove Road in Edwardsville.

The RiverBend Growth Association provided this article.

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February 28, 2020 at 11:33AM

Bill introduced to let retired teachers act as substitutes to help with shortage

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – A new bill has been introduced in Illinois to allow retired teachers act as substitutes in school districts experiencing substitute teacher shortages.

State Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) introduced the bill that would let retired teachers do this without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.

“Education is an issue that will need constant innovation to ensure it is as effective as possible,” said Scherer. “A more adaptable education system will only lead to more significantly positive results for teachers, students and their families.”


The legislation would give the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) the ability to grant return-to-work waivers to school districts where there are substitute teacher shortages.


If a school district is given a waiver, retired teachers can return to work as substitutes without putting their retirement annuity at risk.


Currently, a retired teacher can only return to work without jeopardizing their retirement benefits if they were to return at least one full school year after retirement and do not exceed a cap of 120 paid days or 600 hours.


“School districts need the appropriate resources to mold the future generations,” said Scherer “Providing the space for a quality and productive educational environment should not be hindered by personnel issues like these shortages.”

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February 28, 2020 at 11:28AM

Illinois lawmaker wants to limit use of Native American mascots

A bill in the Illinois House of Representatives would force schools to obtain permission to use Native American mascots or nicknames. … Click to Continue »

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Region: Metro East,Feeds,News,City: Belleville

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February 25, 2020 at 04:37AM

All ESL students approved for free bus rides to school

Some 1,800 students in the East St. Louis School District will receive free bus rides to school beginning with the 2020-2021 school year thanks to state legislation passed at the instigation of district parents.

Illinois House Bill 5195, adopted in late 2018, allows qualifying schools to provide free bus transportation to students who reside in an area with high incidence of criminal gang activity. Previously, free school transportation was only provided to students who live more than 1.5 miles from school or for those who live less than 1.5 miles but who walked through hazardous areas as identified by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Data from the Illinois State Police, as well as the City of East St. Louis, City of Washington Park, City of Centreville and the Village of Alorton, were used as evidence for determining eligibility in the application to the Illinois State Board of Education.  

The East St. Louis School District was the first school district in Illinois to apply and receive a waiver for all of its students and the first to receive a transportation waiver from the Illinois State Board of Education. According to the school district, its transportation provider, Illinois Central, is in the process of adding new fleet and recruiting additional drivers to meet the increased service demand. 

The bill was championed by Rep. LaToya Greenwood, Rep. Jay Hoffman and Sen. James Clayborne Jr. to ensure approval in the House and Senate. East St. Louis School District Superintendent Arthur Culver noted that the district and concerned partners have been working for several years to get free transportation for students who reside in areas with high incidences of criminal gang activity.

“Our parents are the ones who raised this issue and worked tirelessly to advocate for free bus transportation for all students,” Culver stated in a release. “Their advocacy has led to this win for our students. We also want to thank our Board of Education and the Financial Oversight Panel for their support and steadfast concern for the safety of our students.”

The district also thanked local municipalities and police departments for their assistance with compiling the data reports needed for the waiver application.

“The chances of being murdered in East St. Louis are 19 times greater than the national average,” the Belleville News-Democrat reported last April. “The national homicide rate is around 5 murders for 100,000 people; in East St. Louis, it’s 96 murders per 100,000, topping cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Washington, D.C. Yet only 25 percent of the murders are charged in criminal court, compared to a national average of 60 percent.”

The News-Democrat noted that there were 453 murders within the 14-square-mile border of East St. Louis from 2000 to 2018.

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via St. Louis American

February 5, 2020 at 06:48AM

State Rep. Didech offers resolution in Springfield that honors Stevenson High School for fifth Blue Ribbon award

State Rep. Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, center, presented the Stevenson High School Board of Education with a resolution at the Jan. 14, 2020 board meeting that he filed in Springfield which recognizes Stevenson’s status as a National Blue Ribbon school for the fifth time. (Stevenson High School)

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January 23, 2020 at 07:23AM

Bill would add ‘sexting’ to sex ed classes in Illinois

House Bill 4007, introduced by Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, would require sex education curriculum in grades 6-12 to include material on the legal and social risks of sharing sexually explicit images, messages and videos.

“This is something that a lot of our students are dealing with and are partaking in without really understanding what the consequences could be,” West said.

Issues surrounding sexting that would be required in curriculum include long-term consequences, bullying and harassment, resisting peer pressure and using the Internet safely. Lessons would also have to highlight school and community officials who students can reach out to with a problem.

“There’s no telling what our children are doing on their phones,” West said, “so instead of trying to intrude into their privacy, let’s just make sure they’re educated on even the things that make us adults uncomfortable.”

The bill defines sexting as “sending, sharing, receiving, or forwarding a sexually explicit or sexually suggestive image, video, or text message by a digital or electronic device, including, but not limited to, a mobile or cellular telephone or a computer.”

New Jersey’s law, signed in 2018, requires schools to teach the “social, emotional, and legal consequences” of sexting.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, America’s second-largest, added the risks and consequences of sexting to its curriculum in 2015.

Driver says including sexting in sex education is a “smart response” to a growing practice.

“Young people generally think short term, in the immediate, and so providing the education before it becomes punitive … is a very responsible way to address sexting,” she said.

A 2018 study of 110,000 teenagers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 15 percent had sent sexts and 27 percent had received them. Twelve percent also admitted to sending a sext of someone else without their consent.

Sexting between minors is illegal in 25 states including Illinois, according to a 2018 analysis by the Cyberbullying Research Center. Illinois law forbids minors from sharing sexual images and videos of themselves via any electronic method, such as texting, social media and smartphone apps. The penalty is usually community service or counseling.

Illinois is one of 24 states plus the District of Columbia that require sex education. School codes require sex education lessons in Illinois to be age-appropriate, evidence-based and medically accurate. Parents have the option to take their children out of class if they object to the material.

“It is my hope that schools will be understanding of this because this is one thing that we really can’t control,” West said.

Ben Schwarm, deputy executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, predicts his organization will oppose the bill once it is assigned to a committee.

“We oppose all new curricular mandates. It has just really grown out of control,” he said.

Schwarm calls the bill unnecessary because school codes already mandate instruction on related topics like Internet safety and cyberbullying.

West, however, said he does not believe it would be an unnecessary mandate.

“We’re just simply saying we need to acknowledge the elephant that’s in the room,” he said.

West said sexting has already come up among a group of middle school boys he mentors.

“I’m telling them the ramifications to it and telling them how, though you may feel that this is pretty cool now, it can be detrimental later,” he said.

“But that’s just with six boys that I mentor. There’s a lot more out there that may not be getting that same kind of guidance.”

Driver said she agrees that sex education should meet young people where they are.

“I think very much how we’re trying to keep up with technology, we need to be keeping up with sex education at the same time so that one doesn’t happen without the other,” she said.

West introduced the bill in December and is reaching out to fellow lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for support as the General Assembly prepares for its 2020 session beginning Jan. 28.

15 new laws in Illinois for 2020

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January 8, 2020 at 06:44PM

After teen’s suicide, new Illinois law changes criminal interrogation at schools

Illinois law now requires schools to notify and include a parent or guardian when students are questioned about criminal matters at school.

State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Aurora, was the bill’s chief sponsor in the Illinois House. She said House Bill 2627 gives students a better idea about protocol when it comes to criminal interrogation at school. She said before the law was signed there wasn’t a specific protocol in place if a student was suspected of committing a crime.

The new law prohibits students from being left alone during an interrogation by a resource officer or school administrator. It also requires a parent or guardian to be immediately notified. If they cannot be present during the interrogation, the school must have a mental health professional with the student.

The law was prompted by Corey Walgren’s death. The 16-year-old Naperville North High School student killed himself after he was questioned about an alleged sex tape by a school resource officer and a school dean without his parents’ knowledge.

The Illinois Sheriff’s Association initially opposed some aspects of the bill as it was making its way through the legislature. Association officials worked with lawmakers to help eliminate possible unintended consequences for school safety, Illinois Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk said. He said the organization worked to help ensure the bill would have the intent lawmakers were looking for “but also not comprise school safety and the safety of other students.”

The final version included provisions to allow for immediate interrogations if student safety is at risk.    

The new law took effect last week.

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September 4, 2019 at 01:36PM

Rep. Kifowit: District 308 officials disingenuous on state funding for schools

State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, says Oswego School District officials are being disingenuous as they continue to call for the state to meet its financial obligations to the district under the state’s Evidence Based Funding formula.

"This same, tired dialogue has been going on for years," Kifowit said.

"The perpetual underlying assertion is that the state is not living up to their obligations is disingenuous," she continued "To continually go down this line of dialogue, I think is disingenuous."

The Evidence Based Funding (EBF) formula, signed into law in 2017 by Governor Bruce Rauner, is intended to fund school districts equally by placing schools in a tier system to help determine how much funding they receive from the state.

The exact amount of state funds is determined through several steps, including calculating a district’s adequacy target – the cost of educating all students. The adequacy target for OSD 308 determined by the state is $224,180,974 – the amount it would take to fund the district to educate its students. OSD 308 is at 63% of its adequacy target for EBF.

The district is designated a Tier 1 district, meaning it should be receiving the greatest portion of funds allocated by the state.

As previously reported in the Oswego Ledger, OSD 308 officials have said the state will not fully fund the district through the EBF formula by 2027, as required by the law. Instead, district administrators have projected that the state will not meet its funding requirements until 2037.

The bottom line, Kifowit said, is to fully fund the EBF formula the state needs $7 billion dollars – money it does not have.

"What we’re trying to do is we have a 10-year plan at $350 million…to try to get to at least half of that," she said, adding that funding this year was raised to $375 million in Governor JB Pritzker’s budget.

"We all recognize that 10 times $350 million is $3.5 billion. It’s not like the state is trying to hide anything," Kifowit said. "It is a goal that we’re going to get to that, but it seems like the only district…that continues to act like this is some conspiracy from the state is (District) 308."

The state recognizes the shortfalls in funding, she said, and will continue to work towards increasing funding each year. But, she added, every year OSD 308 gets more money based on EBF.

"For School District 308 to continue to point out the situation, is really disingenuous," Kifowit said. "The state is committed to fund education and to work towards equitable funding and to work towards our goals to the best of our ability."

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August 26, 2019 at 09:55PM

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