SPRINGFIELD – On Thursday, Latino state lawmakers expressed support for the family of Anthony Alvarez and outrage at another life taken at the hands of police. Deeply frustrated by a system designed to produce these outcomes, lawmakers called for immediate action to eradicate state-sanctioned violence against Brown and Black young people. 

Less than two weeks after the public release of the video footage of Adam Toledo following police orders and still being killed, the lawmakers said this new evidence painfully reinforces that the status quo is unacceptable and reform cannot improve a broken system that does not guarantee public safety, whether you follow directives or as you ask, “Why are you shooting me?”

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability released police body-camera footage and area surveillance videos from the March 31 incident, in which Alvarez was shot and killed during a foot chase near his home in Portage Park. The shooting happened just days after Chicago police fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

“The video of the shooting of Anthony Alvarez is disturbing, and I cannot imagine the sadness and anger his loved ones are feeling right now,” said State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “Time and again, our communities of color are victim to systemic failures that too often end in tragedy. This failure of the criminal justice system is another indication that we have a long way to go before we see true reform.”

“We are again in mourning, again in shock, again meditating on the last words of someone taken from us by police,” said State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), who represents Alvarez’s neighborhood, Portage Park. “Those words were ‘Why are you shooting me?’ It is a question police have not answered. As members of Anthony Alvarez’s community, we stand today in support of his family, and to demand answers to that question.”

“Anthony Alvarez, Adam Toledo and countless others killed by Chicago Police should still be with us today,” said State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago). “While confirmed killers like Kyle Rittenhouse are calmly taken into custody by law enforcement, young Black and Brown men are not afforded that treatment. I extend my deepest condolences to Anthony's family and stand with my colleagues in demanding a transparent investigation.”

“I stand by Anthony Alvarez’s family and community as they grieve his death and seek answers on the road to pursuing justice,” said State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago). “There needs to be a full investigation into Anthony’s homicide and an overhaul of a broken system that continues to target communities of color.”

Category: Press Releases

2021.04.16 CPZ Cultural district bill committeeSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed a plan by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) to allow for the designation of cultural districts in Illinois, something she said would help to affirm the identity of communities in Illinois and preserve their distinct legacies.

"We want our communities to proudly reflect the identity, contributions and history of the people who have helped build them,” Pacione-Zayas said Friday after the measure passed the Senate. “This gives them a chance to pursue community-driven economic opportunity initiatives that ensure our neighborhoods preserve their unique cultures and continue to build legacies."

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Category: Press Releases

pacione zayasSPRINGFIELD – Responding to a crucial need for hundreds more early childhood educators in the coming years, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) passed a plan out of the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday to provide new college degrees and an easier path to training for those already working in the field.

“This is not just about providing a brighter future for our kids, but also the people who are already working so hard to help them learn and grow,” Pacione-Zayas said. “We know that high quality early care and education is key to helping our children realize their full potential. We need to remove barriers by expanding access and affordability in this field to show support for the workforce that cares and educates our youngest while families work and pursue educational goals.”

Senate Bill 1832 will allow Illinois community colleges the option of applying to the Higher Learning Commission for the ability to confer a Bachelor's of Applied Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Colleges could also offer Professional Educator Licenses with early childhood and early childhood special education endorsements. Colleges would also be required to maintain associate-level early childhood education programs.

The legislation sets forth standards that would ensure such programs align with the requirements for four-year institutions. The goal, Pacione-Zayas said, is to expand enrollment statewide, diversify all levels of the early childhood education workforce, and respond to local workforce demands.

Speaking before the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday evening, April Janney, CEO of Illinois Action for Children, said early childhood education providers are experiencing recruitment challenges despite competitive salaries and benefits.

“Early childhood teachers are on the front lines of this pandemic,” Janney said. “This bill will make it easier for them to advance their careers, while it also elevates the quality of learning for children.”

Juan Salgado, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago system, said the legislation responds to urgent, immediate workforce needs in a field where most employees are women of color.

“This is, at the end of the day, about getting the children in this state the qualified educator they need today, not tomorrow,” Salgado said. “This is what we were designed to do as community colleges. This is the value we bring to, in this case, overwhelmingly … women of color.”

After robust discussion, Senate Bill 1832 passed out of the Senate Higher Education Committee and Senator Pacione-Zayas said she will continue negotiations with stakeholders to ensure a systemic solution.

 

Category: Press Releases

pacione zayas

“This presents us with a chance for transformative change.”

CHICAGO – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas called on the General Assembly to act on recommendations in the report released last week by the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding and spoke on her own plan to increase education pathways and economic stability for early childhood educators.

“The Early Childhood Funding Commission has made our duties clear,” Pacione-Zayas said Thursday. “For the first time, this report clarifies the vision and investments we need to break down the barriers young children face in reaching their full potential.”

Pacione-Zayas worked with the commission as a member of the BUILD Initiative’s Illinois State Team, specifically focusing on the importance of building up the early childhood system in addressing systemic racism.

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Category: Press Releases

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