Suggested bills address teacher shortage

Illinois Capitol News

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Capitol continues scrambling to find solutions to the statewide teacher shortage. Now, there could be several plans in the works which could make it easier to get a teacher’s license.

Many lawmakers say there are just too many obstacles to becoming a teacher here, but one-by-one, they want to tear them down.

A bundle of three bills was just introduced to the House. One would let aspiring teachers from other states get refunds on their application fees after teaching for a year.

Another would let paraprofessionals, like a teacher’s aide, renew his or her license for free.

Lastly, military officers and their spouses would be able to get temporary licenses for up to three years while waiting for approval from the state’s Department on Professional Regulation.

Representative Sue Scherer (D) says she plans to look through the proposal to ensure it’s fair and doesn’t lower qualifications. Last year, she passed legislation to waive fees for substitute teachers.

According to the State Board of Education, more than 1,000 teaching positions are unfilled. More than 80% are in areas with a majority of low-income students.

Scherer, who sits on the House Education Committee, says she and other lawmakers are currently working on more initiatives to resolve the shortage.

A recent survey, done by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, reveals how the shortage has a rippling effect on substitute teachers. It shows, of 400 school districts, schools cannot find subs to cover more than 3,000 absences each week.

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