ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The state is still playing catch-up when it comes to finding enough teachers to lead classrooms.
Lawmakers have been pushing different proposals all session to fix the problem. Now, educators are giving their insight on what they believe is causing the shortage.
Chuck Lane is the Superintendent of Centralia High School. He’s dealing with something almost every district in the state is encountering. Wednesday was the day to find solutions.
Leaders in education say recruiting new talent keeps getting tougher.
“Well, it’s just been a real struggle in the last few years to find quality candidates. Where we used to have 50, 60, 70, 100 candidates, now we have three or four,’ Lane said.
Lane joined a packed room at the Illinois State Board of Education to brainstorm ideas. They said the situation is dire, especially in one department.
“In one particular area, Special Ed, we have had an opening since last spring with no candidates. So, I just think when these types of things are occurring, we have to be willing to think outside the box. We can’t just keep doing the same things over and hope things get better.”
Some lawmakers think the basic skills test is too hard and is turning away good potential candidates. Lane said it may not be the only answer.
“We’ve changed a lot of that for students. We’ve gone to multiple measures of assessment. Why can’t we do the same thing for teacher candidates where we look at their ACT scores, perhaps their GPA, perhaps a portfolio type of thing where there are multiple ways. Anytime you look at just one thing, in order to judge somebody, that is dangerous and I think that is a big part of what the problem is,” said Lane.
Lane said another problem is that minority candidates tend to all get jobs in Chicago and not downstate.
“We don’t have a high population and, since there is a shortage, I think a lot of the candidates that are minorities are going to go to the districts that pay more and most of the time, that is up north,” said Lane.
Board members said their short-term goal is to make tests and licenses more affordable for those who want to become teachers.