Thank you for visiting my legislative website. It is always an honor to serve the people of the 16th Legislative District in the Illinois General Assembly. On my website, you can learn more about me and the issues I work hard to address for our community and our state. Your opinions are important to me, and I urge you to contact my Springfield or Chicago office if you have any questions or concerns.
Senator Jacqueline Collins
State Senator, 16th District
Last week, Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that Simeon Career Academy's electricity program will continue to provide high-quality training and offer excellent job prospects to students pursuing career and technical education. Senator Trotter, Representative Flowers, Representative Ford and I had all advocated for this outcome ever since learning in July that the program would be terminated. We submitted the following guest commentary to local media.
"Now is not the time to rest"
Area lawmakers push for expanded career and technical education programs
Brandon Davenport scored in the top 3.5 percent on the apprenticeship test he took this spring. Takaia Butler recently graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.A. in applied sciences. Timothy King was named valedictorian of his high school class, went on to earn a degree in electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University and has been accepted to graduate school. Malcolm Zeno and Aaron Moore have just successfully completed their first year of apprenticeship school and are well on their way to good careers as union electricians.
They are all alumni of the electricity program at Simeon Career Academy, and theirs are just a few of its names and faces of hope. These young people, who hail from neighborhoods with some of the highest unemployment rates in the city and state, were trained, mentored and equipped for success in the only remaining electrical shop in the Chicago Public Schools. Last month, a decision was made to terminate this proven school-to-career pipeline and, with it, the hopes and dreams of the dozens of youths enrolled each year in Latisa Kindred's classes.
As legislators proudly representing the communities Simeon serves, we were moved to raise our voices in opposition to the steady erosion of opportunities for our youth, and we were honored to stand alongside the students, families, advocates and community partners who refused to yield.
We thank Mayor Emanuel and CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett for listening to our concerns and responding appropriately, reinstating this vital program in time for the start of the new school year. And it is with tremendous gratitude and excitement for the future that we recognize Local #134 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which has committed to offering jobs to students who complete the three-year program. Local #134, which has long partnered with Simeon and vocational education, will also begin an outreach campaign to make middle school students aware of career opportunities in electricity.
Now is not the time to rest. College is more expensive than ever, and America's total student loan debt has supplanted its credit card debt as the heaviest millstone holding back the next generation from financial freedom. Many students in our public schools are not college-bound but deserve the chance to take pride in a trade, provide for themselves and their families, contribute to economic growth and give back to their communities. It is essential that CPS not only maintain its existing career and technical education programs but expand on them, forging new partnerships and reaching out to students in more effective ways.
We stand ready to continue working with CPS and, most importantly, the extraordinary citizens who cared enough about our youth and neighborhoods to get organized and achieve this victory for Simeon's students.
State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th)
State Senator Donne E. Trotter (D-Chicago 17th)
State Representative Mary E. Flowers (D-Chicago 31st)
State Representative La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago 8th)
“Not enough has been done to keep our young people in the classroom learning. There are no shortcuts. CPS cannot make sustainable gains in attendance without dedicating staff and resources to the problem.”— State Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th)
CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on the final report of the Truancy in Chicago Public Schools Task Force. Collins, concerned about the impact of widespread, chronic absenteeism throughout the state but particularly in CPS, sponsored legislation last year creating the task force and directing it to report back to the General Assembly with findings and recommendations. Senate President John Cullerton appointed Collins to serve on the task force, which held public hearings throughout the spring.
This is a bold, specific, hard-hitting report because it needed to be. Not enough has been done – either in the Chicago Public Schools or in districts throughout the state – to identify and address the root causes of truancy and keep our young people in the classroom learning.
Chronic absenteeism is caused by diverse factors: homelessness, lack of transportation, failure to engage the student, special needs that are not adequately addressed, disciplinary issues and more. A one-size-fits-all approach is simply not good enough. That is why I fully agree with the task force’s conclusion that a permanent statewide commission should be created to monitor progress and continue to address truancy and its causes both in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois.
Attendance is central to education, and we have a moral (and often a legal) obligation to school-aged youth; we cannot give up on them simply because they are not present in the classroom. If there is one lesson we can take from today’s report, it’s that there are no shortcuts. CPS cannot make sustainable gains in attendance without dedicating staff and resources to the problem. I intend to stay engaged with CPS and with my colleagues on this task force so we see real changes made and real improvements in children’s lives and opportunities.
CHICAGO - Oak Lawn is receiving a $12.7 million low-interest loan to combat flooding and protect its drinking water through stormwater infrastructure improvements. A law I co-sponsored to expand the state's Clean Water Initiative made this possible, and Gov. Quinn came to the Oak Lawn community to sign the legislation. Oak Lawn has experienced devastating flash floods during the past year. The full infrastructure repair and construction program Oak Lawn has launched will not only improve residents’ quality of life but also create 1,400 jobs.
The Clean Water Initiative, launched in 2012, set aside $1 billion for communities to rebuild or repair wastewater and drinking water systems in order to protect their residents from contaminated water. With urban flooding on the rise, stormwater management has become a critical piece of the puzzle, because floodwaters can compromise drinking water supplies as well as damaging residential and commercial property. I’m proud to have helped expand this successful financing program to allow communities to address their most pressing infrastructure challenges.
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