CHICAGO – January 21, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that creates the “Gateways to Opportunity” program, which will award credentials to educators who go above and beyond in making sure they are able to provide the highest quality of education for Illinois’ young minds.
“Today’s students will be tomorrow’s workforce, which is why it is critical that our children get top quality educations,” said Governor Quinn. “By making sure our educators have learned the latest skills and techniques, we can accelerate children down the path of learning at an early age.”
“Gateways to Opportunity” is a professional development system that aims to enhance children’s learning by improving the quality of services they receive in learning environments, increasing positive outcomes, and expanding the availability of coursework and training available to educators.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) will administer the program and award “Gateways to Opportunity” credentials, as symbols of professional achievement, to educators who have completed approved college or university programs or who have compiled a portfolio that documents education and experience. “Gateways to Opportunity” also provides educators access to scholarships and wage supplements so that they can continue their own educations and professional development.
Also under the new law, children who attended a non-public preschool, a non-public kindergarten, were taught kindergarten by a certified teacher or will be 6-years-old on or before Dec. 31 of the upcoming school year may attend first grade once they have successfully passed evaluations to determine their readiness.
House Bill 806, sponsored by Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), goes into effect immediately.