Villa celebrates over $5 million in grants to support bilingual educator pipeline

WEST CHICAGO – An estimated 780 teachers in 219 school districts across the state of Illinois will be supported by the Elevating Educators: Bilingual Education Grants, shared State Senator Karina Villa. More than $5 million in grants will go toward the bilingual educator pipeline, where teachers will receive training and a license to teach English learners, or students whose native language is not English.

“Every child deserves the same quality of education, regardless of what language they may speak at home,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “I am proud to see this investment in licensing teachers to work with students whose native language is not English.”

The number of English learners in Illinois schools has steadily grown over the last 12 years, however the number of teachers qualified to teach these students has not. Illinois schools serve more than 275,000 English learners — nearly 14% of the state’s student population — who speak around 220 different languages. Illinois schools reported more than 300 unfilled teaching positions in bilingual education as of October 2022. These grants will help address this disparity.

Around 450 teachers already have an Educator License with Stipulations endorsed for Transitional Bilingual Education, a temporary license for teaching English learners that lasts five years. These grants will cover expenses, such as tuition and fees, for teachers who have this temporary license so they can get their permanent teaching license. Districts can also use the grant funds to cover expenses for current teachers licensed in other subjects, which will allow them to earn an English as Second Language or Bilingual Education credential. Funding for the grant comes from federal pandemic relief funds.

“Growing up speaking a language other than English can make young children feel very ‘othered’ and alienated from their peers,” Villa said. “Having teachers who can bring inclusivity into their own classrooms with the languages they speak is very important to show children that being bilingual is valuable, and a great strength.”

To learn more about the Elevating Educators: Bilingual Grant program and its recipients, visit the ISBE website.