CHICAGO (AP) – A report released Monday from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents said research shows Illinois is facing a devastating teacher shortage crisis, with 77% of the school districts responding to the 2020 survey saying they have a teacher shortage problem.
Education researchers in Illinois said the reasons for the teacher shortage are numerous and complex, but narrows to more veteran teachers around the state retiring or leaving the profession than there are new teachers coming out of university schools of education.
Alan Mather, president of the non-profit Golden Apple, said Monday’s report is “sadly no surprise to those who work every day to support and prepare future teachers to serve in schools and districts-of-need.”
Mather said over the past few years, “there’s been a series of taking two steps forward and then one step back;” the shortage continues despite programs like the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators that are boosting the number of teachers, especially teachers of color, entering Illinois classrooms.
James Anderson, dean of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Education, noted that for a variety of reasons, including the cost of a college education and the salaries teachers earn after graduating, teaching has become a less attractive career than many other professions.
The minimum wage for a teacher in Illinois is $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year and is scheduled to increase under state law to $40,000 by the 2023-2024 school year.
An analysis of the survey results showed a strong correlation between the severity of the shortage and the average teacher salary in a given district. As teacher salaries increase, superintendents report less of a problem with teacher shortages.