PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A nonprofit organization called Teach Plus has developed a bill to address racism in Illinois schools.
The bill is called Racism Free Schools Act.
Policy manager of Teach Plus, Bill Curtin said he worked with a group of Illinois State Teacher of the Year finalists who are also policy fellows of Teach Plus to address the issue of racial harassment.
“Incidents of racial harassment in schools have increased dramatically over the last few years, and we’re hearing from students and teachers that we need more protection for victims of racism, and we need clear definitions,” said Curtin.
He said the bill has been under development since the fall of 2020 and now the members of the organization have been building support for the policy over the past year.
“We’ve drafted a bill, and we’ve shared it with both legislators, and we have about a dozen lawmakers in support, and we also built a coalition of education organizations,” said Curtin.
Policy fellow of Teach Plus, Madeline Wood, said racial incidents may often fall under the umbrella of bullying in schools’ code of conduct and the bill is to bring more awareness to racism itself.
Members of the organization said they want the same impact that sexual harassment legislation had forty years ago.
“The ultimate goal of the bill is to provide the same kind of protection of sexual harassment for victims of racial harassment, including clear definitions, so everybody knows what is and what is not okay,” said Wood.
They said they are hoping to continue garnering support to make the bill stronger and get the bill passed by next spring.