Teacher shortage bills await Governor’s signature

Teacher shortage bills await Governor’s signature

By: JORDAN GRUCZA

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Two bills referred to as the teacher shortage package passed both houses on Wednesday, May 29. Both are bipartisan bills sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar and are meant to address the teacher shortage crisis in Illinois. As of June 1 both bills have passed concurrence in the House and now await a signature from Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Senate Bill 10 seeks to incrementally raise the minimum wage for teachers in Illinois, beginning with a $32,076 minimum for the 2020-21 school year, followed by $34,576 for 2021-22 and $37,076 for 2022-23, reaching the bill’s goal of $40,000 by 2023-24. After that school year, the minimum wage will increase with the consumer price index annually.

The bill, previously House Bill 2078, was amended on the Senate floor to also direct a professional review panel made up of a group of educators who come up with suggested revisions to the state aid formula bill which Manar passed over a year ago. The amendment directs that panel to come up with a suggestion on how to direct resources to underfunded districts so that the cost of the bill can be measured and addressed appropriately.

“This bill had significant support from both Republicans and Democrats, said Manar. “And I think that underscores the challenge that we face with the teacher shortage, which is not just exclusive to Illinois. This is a national problem. But we have taken a very aggressive approach in Illinois this year, and I think with the most comprehensive package of bills to address the teacher shortage that anyone across the country can point to.”

The other half of the package is Senate Bill 1952, whose purpose is to eliminate a prerequisite “test of basic skills” such as math and reading for student teachers. The terms of the bill also allow for new teachers the potential to be reimbursed for their edTPA exams, a video recorded performance-based assessment system which over 600 teacher preparation programs in the country utilize.

It also removes the prohibition that student teachers are paid for their work and raises the cap on annual teacher pay from 3 percent to 6 percent.