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By CYNTHIA HAGGITT
Illinois school districts show most are continuing to have trouble filling open teaching positions with qualified teachers, and even more are having difficulty hiring substitute teachers.
“There have been multiple reasons for the national teacher shortage, Superintendent Dr. Mark Martin said. “Since our school is relatively small, so is our substitute teaching pool. Unfortantley, we are always in need of substitute teachers, like many other schools.”
He said the outlook for choosing teaching as a career is a shrinking number because there is a lack of interest from new education school graduates.
“Teaching salaries and benefits are lacking compared to other careers when new graduates are looking for jobs. Most teachers will leave the field within the first couple of years because of this reason.” Martin said.
According to Illinois School Board of Higher Education(ISBE) the Tier II retirement system available to those hired after 2010 requires teachers having to work until they are 67 years old to receive full benefits. It also provides less compensation in retirement as their contribution to the plan also works to pay down the unfunded liability of teachers enrolled in the previous pension plan.
“Currently, becoming a teacher in Illinois requires a professional educator license. To receive one, a prospective teacher requires at least a bachelor’s degree, student teaching experience, the completion of a state-approved teaching program and a licensing test,” ISBE website explains.
During the pandemic, ISBE, in conjunction with the Illinois Community College Board and Illinois Board of Higher Education, granted endorsement waivers as part of Gov. JB Pritzker’s emergency order to allow schools to fill positions with teachers certified for grade levels or subjects other than the ones they were hired to teach.
A shortage state-wide, we’re not seeing a huge decrease but we’re seeing that the districts are having a more difficult time in filling positions with qualified individuals
The Illinois Association of the Regional Superintendent of Schools (IARSS) conducted a recent study that included responses from 591 of the state’s 853 districts. Of those responding, 77% said they have a teacher shortage problem. 93% said they have a problem hiring substitute teachers. According to the Illinois State Board of Education website, “This year in 2021, that number is nearly 1,700.”
It’s possible that substitutes felt intimidated by the prospect of online and hybrid teaching or did not wish to risk catching COVID-19 from in-person classes. (Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the substitute shortage will disappear entirely, even after the pandemic.)