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Superintendent study: Illinois facing “severe, growing” teacher shortage

Monday, Jan 11, 2016

* Press release…

More and more school districts around Illinois are finding it harder to fill teaching positions and find qualified candidates for the teaching positions they are able to fill, according to a newly released survey from Illinois’ regional superintendents of schools.

The Teacher Shortage Survey, developed by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS) and conducted at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, found:

    * 60 percent of Illinois school districts responding report trouble filling teaching positions
    * 75 percent of those districts are seeing fewer qualified candidates than in past years, with the numbers much higher in rural districts and in central and northwest Illinois
    * 16 percent of schools have had to cancel programs or classes because of teacher shortages with particular problems in special education, reading/English/language arts, and math and science

Jeff Vose, the Regional Superintendent of Schools for Regional Office of Education No. 51 covering Sangamon and Menard counties and president of IARSS, said the survey results help give education officials statewide a better sense of the problem they knew was developing but couldn’t quite substantiate.

“With this survey, we now have some solid data and more detailed information. We hope this will jump start the conversation,” Vose said. “We want to work with local school districts, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Governor’s office and legislators to address this growing crisis.”

The regional superintendents surveyed all three types of school districts – elementary districts, high school districts and unit districts (which contain both elementary and secondary schools). The data showed that staffing shortages are particularly problematic for secondary schools with 80 percent of high school districts and 87 percent of unit school districts noticing fewer quality candidates applying for positions.

In an analysis of the survey, the report identified a combination of factors contributing to the teacher shortage, including: educators leaving Illinois, educators leaving the profession, fewer students enrolling in teacher training programs, out-of-state educators unwilling to relocate to Illinois and out-of-state educators who would be willing to relocate but are unable to meet the state’s licensure mandates without substantial delays and meeting additional requirements.

The survey analysis also highlighted five areas of critical concern:

    · Simplify and expedite processes for applicants;
    · Expand reciprocity that more closely matches other states’ requirements when comparable to Illinois;
    · Enhance Illinois recruitment of in-state and out-of-state candidates;
    · Modify regulations to support educators as professionals; and
    · Explore possible alternative routes to licensure and/or obtaining endorsements not currently available.

The Teacher Shortage Survey was developed by (IARSS) and conducted between August 25 and Sept. 2, 2015. The survey results were submitted to Goshen Education Consulting, Inc. for the survey analysis. The survey was completed by 62 percent of the school districts in the state, or 538 districts. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent and a confidence level of 99 percent.

The full report is here.

This has become a national problem. Click here for some background.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - A guy - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:36 am:

    The survey is what it is, but I’ve seen a lot of young folks coming out of ISU and other schools who have not been able to secure a teaching job anywhere in this region. I know of at least 4 who have taken jobs as subs and teacher’s aides just to get into the system. This is really surprising information.

  2. - Blago's Hare - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:38 am:

    On the ocean liner of the education world, this has been an iceberg that has been warned for the last five years. Not just a shortage of teachers, but a shortage of quality teachers. This problem will only get worse for the next few years. Look at what has been happening to educator enrollment at all of our universities.

  3. - ottawa otter - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:38 am:

    Why would anyone want into that profession? Republicans have been demonizing teachers at the state and national level for years. Teachers are looked upon with disdain, it is a thankless job. Only folks with few other options would even consider it.

  4. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:43 am:

    I too find this very surprising. I know several people with teaching degrees who gave up (after months/years of searching for a teaching position) and took jobs in other fields.

  5. - Carhartt Representative - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:47 am:

    My wife saw this coming years ago. Make a job unpleasant enough and people with other options will move on to something else. The big problem isn’t teacher recruiting so much as retention. My wife was disappointed to see that the amazing young music teacher at her school, quit in October after less than four years and is now reevaluating her life while working at Guitar Center. She was an excellent teacher too, who turned around the school’s music program.

  6. - Travelguy - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:50 am:

    This cannot be a surprise to anyone with half a brain. Unfortunately, politicians spew their venom to appeal to those without the aforementioned luxury.
    Most teachers are overworked and underpaid throughout the country, and they are almost exclusively blamed for the failure of students to achieve.
    Both sides of the aisle use this issue to pander to their bases. Democrats use teachers as a scapegoat so that parents don’t have to take responsibility for their kids’ (and their own) failure, and so that the public doesn’t notice that they are unable to institute social programs that might actually help to alleviate the number one hindrance to student success: poverty.
    Republicans scapegoat teachers in order to try to privatize education because it’s the biggest pot of public money that they do not have their fingers in at this time. They specifically target unions to try to play upon age-old beliefs that teachers cannot be fired if they have tenure. With the passing of PERA and Senate Bill 7, this is no longer the case. What they don’t tell you about their “miracle” private and charter schools is that they rarely perform as well as the local public schools for any extended period of time and that they often do not take (or expel) the most at-risk kids.

  7. - Big Joe - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:51 am:

    My wife and I are teachers, and none of our 4 children went into teaching when attending college. They didn’t see the current education situation as something that they wanted to pursue. I thought that I would be upset about this, but with the current emphasis on testing, common core, No Child Left Behind, etc, I couldn’t argue with them. These restrictions imposed on current teachers has taken a lot of the enjoyment out of teaching kids. So many mandates, you don’t have as much time to encourage the development of skills that are not tested on standardized tests. All of our students are not cut out for college, but can train for a good job upon graduation. If our schools would have some offerings for them in our high schools, they would be better prepared for getting a job in some trades. But as long as there is so much emphasis on test scores, those kids are being short-changed in our current system. College is not for everyone, but we seem to be painting each student with the same brush and expectations.

  8. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:51 am:

    Hey, since “anyone can do it” (snark), let high school grads fill those positions. Wouldn’t that be good enough for your kids and grandkids, since it’s such a simple job? Snark. Should be!

    Decent paying districts will never have abundant vacancies. It’s the low paying, remote area districts that have trouble. Just like private industry. Why work for minimum wage if you can get into a deluxe company paying 3X? Why wouldn’t teachers feel that way—-trying to feed and support their own families? Or should they just be in it to help others and the warm fuzzies? Snark

  9. - Skeptic - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 9:52 am:

    I wonder if both are right, (schools can’t find teachers and teachers can’t find jobs) but the rest of the story is more like “schools can’t find teachers that will work for what we’re willing to pay them” and “teachers can’t find jobs that pay worth a darn.”

  10. - Anon221 - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 10:13 am:

    See some of the current openings in your area, and what the requirements are-

  11. - Timmeh - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 10:28 am:

    ==I wonder if both are right==

    I’m guessing it depends on major. I have heard it’s difficult getting a job teaching history. My friend who is a chemistry teacher had plenty of options for schools to go to.

  12. - Aldyth - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 10:29 am:

    Every year, I have education majors come and tour my program. Over the last several years, I have told them that Special Education can be very rewarding, but get a job in another state unless you want to be a punching bag and your pension looked at as a burden.

  13. - nona - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 10:29 am:

    Do any of the legislators who supported creation of the tier 2 pension see any connection? They told young potential teachers they will have to work 12 years longer than the teachers hired before them, will get a lousy annual pension adjustment, but must pay in as much as their more experienced counterparts. In short, they get a much inferior pension. Policies such as this make the profession less attractive. As our conservative friends like to say regarding non-government examples, you get what you pay for.

  14. - Joe M - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 10:36 am:

    I think nona brought up a good point - the change to tier 2 pensions for those who started after Jan 1, 2011.

    The overall poor state aid and tight budgets for many school districts have forced many of those districts to not give new teachers tenure - so that the district can save money by starting over with a new teacher at lower pay. Not good situations to entice people into the teaching profession.

  15. - Anon221 - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 10:48 am:

    Picking up on nona’s and Joe M’s comments- many new teachers get the, “We want you, but you’ll probably be RIFed,” run around. Reduction in Force (RIFs) happen far too often to keep teacher costs low. If you knew you were going to be RIFed at the end of each year, with the promise that “if we can we’ll hire you back”, what would you do? The last thing a new teacher, especially one fresh out of school needs, is this level of stress. You want good teachers to become excellent educators, invest in them just as you would any capital school investment.

  16. - Enviro - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 10:53 am:

    On average, over 50 percent of new public school teachers leave their district within five years. In inner-city schools 55 percent of new teachers leave in their first two years. Add to that the number of baby boomer teachers who are retiring in ever growing numbers.

    Recipe To Create A Teacher Shortage:

    - 1 cup of rhetoric against teachers
    - 1 cup lack of faculty influence and autonomy
    - 1 cup of poor administrative support
    - 2 cups of student discipline problems
    - 1 pound of bills to reduce teacher pensions
    - 3 tablespoons of bills to reduce job security for teachers
    - ½ cup of budget cuts amid a state revenue crisis
    - 3 cups of growing child poverty throughout the state
    - 3 tablespoons of low teacher pay in rural areas
    - 1 cup of large numbers of teacher retirements

  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 10:55 am:

    PBS did a piece last month on how difficult it is for new graduates with education degrees to find jobs as teachers.

  18. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 11:03 am:

    Maybe superintendents should look in the mirror and question their outrageous salaries and perks. Need to consolidate school districts to lower property taxes and invest more in the classroom not the administration.

  19. - CardinalsNation1 - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 11:15 am:

    There are still enough elementary certified teachers, although the number of applicants for any one position have dropped significantly in the last five years. It is largely high school (math, science, driver’s ed, and niche positions) and some middle school positions that are really getting hard to find.

    Ask any teacher ed program in Illinois, and they will tell you that their numbers dropped prolifically after SB7/PERA implementation and adding Tier 2 to TRS.

  20. - college parent - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 12:08 pm:

    Also announced in today’s news, the teacher education scholarships administered to recruit new teachers to hard to fill positions has been suspended due to the lack of a state budget. Including this one: “The Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) Program encourages current teachers (not certified in a special education discipline) and academically talented students to pursue careers as nonprofit Illinois public, private or parochial preschool, elementary or secondary school teachers in any area of Special Education.”

    No wonder there are shortages. Besides all of the political nonsense surrounding teaching, now the programs to help finance entry into the low paying field are also going away.

    Students with any sense would leave this state and not look back.

  21. - Dirty Red - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 12:13 pm:

    = * 60 percent of Illinois school districts responding report trouble filling teaching positions
    * 75 percent of those districts are seeing fewer qualified candidates than in past years, with the numbers much higher in rural districts and in central and northwest Illinois =

    You mean an aspiring teacher fresh out of college doesn’t have 3-5 years of experience employers look for that make them “qualified?”

    How can it be that there are fewer eligible applicants in this world of extra background checks and certifications (some of them quite expensive)?

  22. - Carhartt Representative - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 12:16 pm:

    =There are still enough elementary certified teachers, although the number of applicants for any one position have dropped significantly in the last five years. It is largely high school (math, science, driver’s ed, and niche positions) and some middle school positions that are really getting hard to find.=

    That’s true, but it’s spreading both geographically and across fields. Reading and history are the easiest to be certified in just on general education requirements from most colleges, but even their numbers are dropping. Like in anything though, the best paying districts with the best working conditions will always be able to attract employees

  23. - Former Hoosier - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 12:16 pm:

    In this current environment, why would any student who has other options want to go into teaching and why would current educators want to stay? The ongoing hostility toward educators is astounding. I live in a high performing, high paying school district and we are loosing experienced teachers at an alarming rate. Many are retiring sooner than they anticipated because they are tired of being blamed for things they have no control over, tired for being treated like “the help” instead of a professional and done with the all the hostility directed toward them. One of our seasoned teachers left to take a management position in the retail industry! Although replacements are found, they are often inexperienced. We are all paying a price for the dysfunction in our educational system.

  24. - CardinalsNation1 - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 12:36 pm:

    -Carhartt Representative-

    Correct. The biggest deal is, as Former Hoosier notes, who wants to become a teacher when the training, certification, and pension systems are under full attack by the government, and when everyone blames schools and teachers for everything? Not an encouraging environment to step out into.

  25. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 12:56 pm:

    Teaching might be hit first but this is going to be a tsunami wave for all other government jobs. Why would an educated professional with an advanced degree take a low-paying job with a joke of a pension and constant public disrespect and demonizing? Once the current staff has retired, only the bottom of the barrel will be replacing them.

  26. - JS Mill - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 1:18 pm:

    = Need to consolidate school districts to lower property taxes and invest more in the classroom not the administration.=

    1. Consolidation does not lower taxes. Consolidation does not necessarily lead to fewer administrators and can actually lead to an increase in administrative costs.

    But hey, you probably have a lot of experience in the area to know what you are talking about. /s

    =Maybe superintendents should look in the mirror and question their outrageous salaries and perks.=

    You make this statement based on what? Because you do not make as much? Because you couldn’t complete the requirements for the position which naturally limit the applicant field and increase market forces in terms of costs or are you not a believer in the free market? Because you know that the typical stay in a position due to the unbelievable negative politics is 3 years, 18 months for large urban districts. The moving around costs money which has to be made up in salary.

    Also, see all other comments about the teaching profession and the shortage and you can apply all of those to the superintendency. Nearly 10% of Illinois districts began the year without a permanent full-time superintendent. That has been the case for more than a decade.


  27. - DuPage - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 1:32 pm:

    The college students see all the bad things teachers have had to contend with the last few years. The lack of job security from SB7, tier 2 pensions and a governor trying to take away any real representation, makes them turn away from teaching.

  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 2:29 pm:

    Agree with all comments above. What would be the attraction to teaching for a young person choosing a career? Can’t think of one. People disparage lawyers and a few other professions but at least their incomes are significantly higher than a teacher salary. You can tolerate abuse if you can laugh on your way to the bank but teachers can’t laugh. Every list of “college degrees that pay the least” has teacher in it, so I don’t really understand those who say teachers are overpaid. Compared to what? Factory assemblers?

  29. - historic66 - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 3:18 pm:

    The idea of teachers being overpaid generally stems from the 180 day school year.

  30. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 3:23 pm:

    When you denigrate a profession for decades, this is what you get. What would an economist tell us to do?

  31. - foster brooks - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 4:56 pm:

    you have to be a fool to get in that profession

  32. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 5:01 pm:

    That 180 day school year…….I happen to know a few college grads in business who start out with 3-4 weeks vacation, sick days, personal days, flex days……….just sayin’. When I heard this I thought…….but wait! I thought only teachers got this much time off! It’s a con!

  33. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 5:02 pm:

    Not to neglect paid holidays.

  34. - patty - Monday, Jan 11, 16 @ 8:31 pm:

    I represent recently retired Special Ed teachers. There are many of us who would gladly go back to teaching, but the restrictions limiting us to 100 days and $30,000 per school year don’t allow us to even sub when asked. We would take a job, without benefits, if districts could hire retired teachers and get exemptions from the state that limit us.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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