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Teacher shortage in Illinois calls for a new initiative

Written by on March 20, 2023

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois has struggled with a teacher shortage that has impacted the community for years.

Beyond educators no longer wanting to enter the profession for various reasons, current teachers are also stepping away from the classrooms. In the college of education at Illinois State University, Kelli Appel explained why this is an ongoing issue across the state.

“I mean this definitely is a national issue even beyond Illinois. But, there has been a lot of studies done recently that have looked at this and there are several factors: pay and retirement options is one of the factors that teachers fight,” said Appel. “We still continue to struggle with pay levels from many areas in the state.”

Teachers and classroom curriculum play a vital role in the development of children across the state.

“There have been political pressures and challenges for teachers with curriculum and that practice,” said Appel. “In addition, a challenge is that many teachers are fulfilling so many roles in children’s lives and the school community and there’s exhaustion and difficulty managing the workload.”

In a recent press conference, Governor J.B. Pritzker addressed the shortages seen across the state. He proposed a new teacher pipeline initiative to address the scarcity of teachers to help combat this issue. This initiative entails a grant of $70 million per year over the next three years to 170 school districts with the highest vacant teaching positions.

“I do think additional funds for scholarships or grants for future teachers so that they can enter the profession,” said Appel. “Any progress in teacher pay is great, but I do believe some if the pipeline initiative would really be helpful in grants and scholarships and other incentives for people to consider teaching and remain in the career as teachers.”

ISU’s School of Education is working towards making teaching positions easily accessible to help fill the gaps. They have created programs that allow anyone to work towards their teaching degree in a new way.

Across the state including at Illinois State, we are trying to provide access to more of the workforce,” said Appel. “Whether that’s teaching assistants who can now access an online program to become a special education teacher. Or whether that is early childhood or childcare professional who can now take advantage of an online program to earn their degree and licensure. We are making progress in providing access to students who need to continue working or aren’t able to physically move to college campuses. We are excited to increase some of our activities for access. Faculty have done a lot of hard work in creating strong programs to meet these needs.”