Governor Suggests Extending School Year to Address Learning Loss

While thousands of Illinois students have yet to return to the classroom because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that summer school may be a way to address learning loss from remote classes. More than 460 Illinois school districts are still using some form of remote learning for students. Pritzker says his administration is suggesting school districts consider extending the school year. “This is going to take a comprehensive effort,” Pritzker said. “We are encouraging schools to think about summer as a time when they could have those kids still in class and expand their learning opportunity in class.”

Bloomington District 87 Superintendent of Schools Barry Reilly said learning loss is an issue that is being addressed. “Those things will include conversations about extended school year, summer school, early start to the school year, providing some additional resources to kids in schools who may need that over the next several years,” Reilly said. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been touting the newly enacted Educational Workforce and Equity Act. “We need to make sure we are funding education properly in the state of Illinois, I have said that for some time now,” Pritzker said Friday during a recent stop in Belleville.

Pritzker has been criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for keeping school funding flat in his $41.6 billion proposed budget for the year that begins July 1. For the second year in a row, Pritzker wants to forgo a $350 million increase in funding for elementary and secondary education. Under the Educational Workforce and Equity Act, new graduation requirements will be added to better prepare students in computer literacy and foreign languages, and required Black history coursework will be expanded to include pre-enslavement of Black people, why Black people came to be enslaved and the American civil rights movement. It also expands access to Illinois’ Early Intervention program by letting children who turn 3 years old between May and August continue receiving services until the start of the next school year.