We are facing a teacher shortage. A Learning Policy Institute study shows a 35% decline in students studying to be teachers across the United States. In Illinois, there are more than 2,000 unfilled teaching positions throughout the state. In response, legislation has been introduced to address the problem.
Many studies reveal compensation as the number one reason students choose not to pursue a career in teaching. SB2892 creates minimum teaching salaries of (i) $32,076 for the 2019-2020 school year, (ii) $34,576 for the 2020-2021 school year, (iii) $37,076 for the 2021-2022 school year, and (iv) $40,000 for the 2022-2023 school year. The bill has been sent to the Governor and awaits his action.
Two other proposals did not advance but address the concerns as well. HB4518 would allow retired educators to return to teaching without impacting their retirement statuses or retirement annuities. HB4956 would allow public universities in Illinois to offer 3-year teaching degrees.
In addition to the teacher shortage, many school districts are facing a substitute teacher shortage. 86% of school districts in Illinois have to pull teachers from planning periods to fill in as substitutes.
On July 1, PA100-0596 went in to effect. This bipartisan effort creates a new type of license—a Short-Term Substitute Teaching License—to allow individuals who hold an associate’s degree or who have completed 60 hours of higher education coursework to substitute teach for five consecutive days. It also allows full reciprocity for out-of-state educators wishing to teach in Illinois, allows individuals who hold a lapsed Professional Educator License due to failure to complete professional development to qualify for a substitute teaching license, and allows downstate retired teachers to substitute teach for 120 days each year (increased from 100) without jeopardizing their retirement benefits. Additionally, it requires school districts to offer training to short-term substitute teachers.
Another measure, SB2838, would allow school districts to use recruiting firms to hire substitutes. This bill awaits action from the Governor.