Addressing Nationwide Teacher Shortage

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationIn an effort to address the nationwide teacher shortage, Governor JB Pritzker signed several bills into law on Wednesday aimed to streamline the licensing process for educators, lower licensing fees, and create more opportunities for prospective educators. “All across the nation, school districts are fighting the impact of teacher shortages,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “That’s why I’ve worked with lawmakers and school districts across the state to find new ways to bring people into the profession and encourage them to stay there. In this fight for our children’s futures, school districts should know they’re far from alone.”

These latest efforts address the burden of the state’s current teacher shortage, which includes raising the minimum wage for teachers to $40,000 per year, increasing funding for the Minority Teachers of Illinois scholarship program by 120 percent, a $200 million investment in early childhood education workforce development programs and increasing funding for teacher preparation programs. The teacher workforce has grown year-over-year since the state’s Evidence-Based Funding model was enacted in 2018. Since then, Illinois has added more than 5,000 teachers to the profession. Additionally, average teacher salaries have also grown year-over-year with the greatest increase in recent years occurring in 2021, when the first phase of the minimum teacher salary went into effect.

“Gov. Pritzker’s investments in strengthening our education system and increasing funding for schools have boosted teacher salaries, recruitment, retention, and diversity, even during the difficult years of the pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Todays’ bill signing builds on those efforts to help schools meet the ongoing need for more substitute teachers and paraprofessionals. Continuing to make strategic, equity-driven improvements to our teacher pipelines will ensure that all students have the well-supported educators they need in every classroom, every day.”

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