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Lightford pushes for more relatable, empowering and honest Black history lessons in Illinois schools

black history2 100720CHICAGO – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) joined the Senate Education and Higher Education Committees for a hearing focused on the Black history curriculum and student success programs in Illinois elementary and high schools.

Wednesday’s hearing was the fourth hearing dedicated to education and workforce development, the second pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda to rid Illinois of systemic racism.

“It’s clear that it shouldn’t be difficult for children to learn about famous figures in history,” Lightford said. “Children should also learn about Black history in a way that is relatable and empowering, while also not hiding its truth and past atrocities. The State Board of Education should mandate a curriculum that incorporates lessons about all marginalized populations into their history classes.”

The committee was joined by its House counterparts to hear testimony from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Noble Network of Charter Schools, Georgia State University, Chicago Public Schools, Stand for Children, Advance Illinois, the Illinois Community College Board, and the Illinois State Board of Education.

The agencies addressed ways to strengthen current student success and reenrollment programs by creating work-study programs and hybrid online and onsite programs. The groups also put an emphasis on exploring avenues to create a process to review curricula to ensure students are learning American history from a multidimensional perspective.

“Student success requires us to look beyond exams and coursework to ensure we are transitioning students out of the classroom and into the real world,” Lightford said. “Our education system needs to put a focus on growing successful adults and providing children with the skills they need to enter the workforce.”

The next hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 14 at noon, will focus on language requirements and mental health resources for students.

Senate hearings can be watched live at https://ilga.gov/senateaudvid.asp.

Sen. Lightford

Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

Senate Majority Leader
4th District


Years served: 1998 - Present (Senate) 

Committee assignments: Assignments (Chairperson); Education; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive Appointments; Executive; Oversight Medicaid Mang. Care, Spec; Supplier Diversity, Special Com. On; Subcommittee on Gov. Operations (Sub-Chairperson); Subcommittee on Charter Schools (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: B.A. in Communications, Western Illinois University; M.A. in Public Administration, University of Illinois Springfield; former Village of Maywood trustee; former employee at Secretary of State, Department of Corrections and Central Management Services; longtime champion in the Senate for education, working families and women's issues; lives in Maywood with her family.

Associated Representatives:
La Shawn K. Ford
Emanuel Chris Welch