Bill addressing racial inequity in education sent to Gov. Pritzker, local leaders welcome changes

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – A bill sent to Governor J.B. Pritzker could make big changes to the Illinois education system.

House Bill 2170 is designed to address racial inequity in K-12 schools and higher ed.

African-American and Latino students make up about 68% of Peoria Public Schools. This means a bill passed by the Illinois House and Senate on racial inequity in education would be especially impactful to the district.

“It’s definitely significant (because of) our minority numbers, and then our low-income numbers are in the 70s. So this speaks to us,” said Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Peoria Public Schools Superintendent.

House Bill 2170 calls for a number of changes to the state’s education model. Among the changes are improving funding for childhood education, promoting diversity among staff, and ensuring minority students have better access to college.

“A lot of the things that are in there, (have) actually aligned with our vision, our mission, our values,” Desmoulin-Kherat said.

Robbie Criss works with students in his role as Youth Director for Dream Center Peoria. He says he believes education is the foundation for the future.

“It all starts with reading, writing, history, science,” Criss said.

When discussing the bill that may expand educational opportunities for students of color, Criss shared excitement, but he also believes the legislation could impact more than minority communities.

“A lot of our youth, they’re learning together. They’re integrated in a lot of cases. So yeah okay, for the Black youth but it spills out to other minorities and majorities,” Criss said.

Desmoulin-Kherat said implementation of the bill is also important. She said if the governor signs it, schools will have several years to prepare.

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