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Teacher shortage worsens

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2019

* Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools survey results of 527 out of 858 district superintendents

Superintendents in 85% of the districts surveyed believed that they have either a major or a minor problem with teacher shortages, which is up from 78% from the 2017 survey. Substitute teacher shortages continue to be a particular concern for superintendents. About 5 in 8 (63%) indicated that they have a “serious problem” with substitute teacher shortages, while only 3% indicated that they have “no problems” with substitute teacher shortages. Among the 527 responding districts (61%), superintendents reported that 20% of all positions (1,032) listed for fall 2018 remained unfilled or filled by an unqualified professional. This resulted in 225 classes being cancelled.

* More from the report

Teacher Shortage Intensity by County

Substitute Teacher Shortage Intensity by County

* Peter Hancock at Capitol News Illinois

The report said shortages were reported in almost every subject area, with foreign languages, various special education fields and computer science leading the list of classroom subjects. There were also significant shortages of school psychologists and library and media specialists.

Shortages were also reported in every region of the state, although they were more severe in southern and central Illinois than in the suburban districts around Chicago.

In southern Illinois, 94 districts reported seeing “significantly fewer qualified applicants” than they did five years ago. That compares with 90 percent of the districts in central Illinois; 78 percent in northwest Illinois; and only 42 percent in the Cook County and surrounding suburbs.

As a result of those shortages, the report said 99 districts reported canceling a total of 225 course offerings due to a lack of qualified teachers, while 86 districts reported converting more than 200 classes to online learning because they lacked a qualified teacher for the subject.

* Back to the report

Three key policy recommendations are presented. First, to alleviate the substitute teacher shortage, the process of substitute teacher licensing should be “less bureaucratic” and streamlined, especially for retired educators serving in a district of prior employment. Second, Illinois needs to expand programs for developing new teachers including support for Grow Your Own Teacher and Administrator initiatives throughout all of Illinois. Finally, by using existing data and collecting gap data we will have the ability for more confident predictions on shortages long term and identify, by district, the challenges and viable solutions for educator shortages.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

47 Comments »
  1. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    Quick scan of the report, didn’t see anything about Tier 2.


  2. - BenFolds5 - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    There is one issue. Bureaucracy. Like the actual group that ran the study. Regional Sups. Every few years they come under scrutiny,but bureaucracies always survive in Illinois. There are so many unfunded mandates. Try becoming a Sub for $80 a day. Have education degrees AND pass the state exams to be a Superintendent. If you didn’t file the “right license” you guessed it, Masters. Take more classes. I saw this in the district I worked in so many times. It’s our own fault.


  3. - A guy - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    A better economy is certainly hurting Substitute teachers. A lot of them were from the ranks of laid off or temporary unemployed people. The only requirement I remember was a college degree. Many recent grads did this to tide them over as well. With unemployment low, these positions are harder to fill.


  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    My spouse, a middle school teacher, had a conference with a student and parent that included the principal and an administrative intern. The student yelled at my spouse and when my spouse said that was not acceptable behavior, the parent told my spouse to accept it. The principle didn’t say a word. Until this culture improves, get used to teacher shortages.


  5. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    How about we start by not exporting half of our college students?


  6. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 12:48 pm:

    I generally agree with unions but one beef I have is that teachers in special education, math, and science are often paid the same as the gym teacher. I know some gym teachers work hard at their job, but none work as hard as the other groups I mentioned.


  7. - Streator Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    == Until this culture improves, get used to teacher shortages. ==

    True. Here in Streator we’ve had to close schools due to lack of funding. The result is cramming too many kids into the remaining schools.

    Teacher friends tell me kids misbehave and know they can get away with it because nothing happens. School districts are afraid of lawsuits. Discipline is breaking down all over because tools have been taken away from teachers. The government paperwork required of teachers is overwhelming, taking up much of their time.

    If newspaper reporters went undercover as substitute teachers for a month, we’d be shocked at what they might discover.

    Then we wonder why there’s a teacher shortage.


  8. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 1:00 pm:

    As a school board member this report is on target in my opinion. Two conclusions jump out. Regular teachers jobs just keep getting harder to do because of the paperwork and insufficient student support for special ed kids in regular ed classrooms. Second the pay for too many districts is still significantly lower than other private industry. Related, sub pay is also too low. Schools are reluctant to raise this to a marketplace competitive level but that’s because they still see subs as primarily babysitters.


  9. - jimbo26 - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    We must start paying teachers better if we want more teachers in the classroom. And we must start respecting teachers. I suggest everyone who is not an educator read “You Can’t Fire the Bad Ones & 18 Other Myths About Teachers, Teachers Unions, and Public Education” I learned so much about teachers and schools that I did not know.


  10. - Retired Educator - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 1:26 pm:

    I taught for 36 years. The entire teaching profession has, and will continue to change. The pay for the level of responsibility is actually pretty poor. Society continues to ask teacher to do, and be everything for their students, but refuses to provide a working wage, and benefits. I have three adult children, and I did not encourage them to enter the teaching profession. They have all entered better paying jobs. The problems inside schools, are way to numerous to mention in a short format. We use to thank teachers, and now we blame them for all of societies woes. There is little real incentive to enter the education profession.


  11. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    Given the vicious attacks on teachers and administrators on a daily basis—both on a personal experience level at schools and in the media, I can’t think of one decent reason for any talented bright person to choose teaching. And I left out the poverty wages. Why would anyone? THe warm fuzzies won’t pay their children’s clothing bills, college tuition.


  12. - Sang-a-mom - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    Springfield’s school district only lists 4 ‘teacher’ vacancies with the other quasi-openings


  13. - My New Handle - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 1:45 pm:

    Several years ago when Max McGee was state Super and before, there had been a do-called teacher shortage. The state ponied up with teacher scholarships and some courses for community college teacher wannabes. Then there was a so-called teacher surplus. But the crux of the biscuit is better teacher pay, better discipline of students, and parental/guardian involvement in schoolwork. When the nun rapped knuckles wuth a ruler, there were no claims of abuse, mostly parents that backed up the discipline. Public school kids (my own included) get away with WAY too much.


  14. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 1:58 pm:

    From Page 9 of the report: Special Education (Pre K-12)openings… 871.2. It tops the list. But, boy, we don’t have any problems filling administrator positions (snark). I’ve been an aide for special needs kids, taught classes for them, and truly appreciate what these teachers do each and every day for their students. And, as others have already mentioned in the comments above, you can’t build your own life on low pay and sometimes little to no support from the district.

    “The greatest need in central Illinois includes school social workers, school psychologists, and special education teachers, said IARSS President Mark Jontry, also the regional superintendent for McLean, Logan, Livingston, and DeWitt counties. Around 49 percent of school psychologist positions statewide were unfilled or held by an unqualified professional in 2018, the report found.” https://www.wglt.org/post/report-states-teacher-shortage-worsens

    WGLT’s Skipping School special reports-

    https://www.wglt.org/topic/skipping-school-illinois-teacher-shortage#stream/0


  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:01 pm:

    My spouse is a former long-time teacher who is now much more happily employed in a different profession. Between indifferent parents, overbearing parents, a lack of support from administration, an increasingly crushing workload, unions more concerned about making things cushy for their leadership than fighting for the rank and file, a political party that demonizes the profession, a political party that panders to and patronizes the profession while regularly supporting pension holidays, and many other reasons too numerous to list, there is no good reason to go into the profession. God bless those who are in this underappreciated profession and sacrifice a lot for our kids.


  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    Sang-a-mom - those positions have been listed since last summer. There were a few more but when the December batch of college graduates entered the market they took a couple spots, leaving what you see now. There are also numerous current teachers being paid to teach an extra course to cover the classes, as well as several long term subs.


  17. - City Zen - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    What makes any professional want to work in these counties? Do you need to offer a New Trier salary to attract someone to work in a Taylorville school? And if I decide to work there, can my professional spouse find employment?

    At some point, someone has to rethink how education is delivered. 1970’s solutions to 21st century problems aren’t going to cut it.


  18. - Flowing Comb Over - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:38 pm:

    Expect this map to become a darker shade of blue. With the new 3% salary limitation on downstate and suburban teachers, why would anyone want to go into the classroom with a college or advanced degree (incurring thousands in debt) to only receive inflationary raises? Yes, inflation has been above 3% annualized over the last 30 years and that is the average length of a teacher’s career.


  19. - City Zen - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:41 pm:

    ==With the new 3% salary limitation…==

    That’s not how it works. Locals can give whatever raises they want. They just have to pick up a larger share of the pension cost associated with that raise.


  20. - Flowing Comb Over - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:53 pm:

    I used the word “limitation” and not “cap” intentionally. But think through the issue and how it will impact all educators.

    Interesting that now downstate and suburban districts have to pay for their pension costs and but the Chicago district can send Springfield the bill for theirs.

    Any district (outside of the City) will now only offer 3% because they will not want to receive a bill years after they granted a raise (for whatever reason) in excess of 3%.


  21. - Platon - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    This is wrong at least in Chicago. There are way more applications than teaching jobs in CPS.


  22. - Blue Dog Dem - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    Why the discrepancy. Daughter in Lincoln Park. Good salary. Niece in Springfield. Very good salary. Nephew in Naperville. Grotesquely high salary. All elementary. All Masters. Similar tenure. But i realize not all districts the same.


  23. - Retired teacher - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    City Zen - no district will offer beyond the 3% for fear of a voter backlash. Districts that go beyond the cap pay significant penalties. The 3% cap has already had a profound impact on contract negotiations and that will only expand.


  24. - Platon - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    Retired educator, I feel for you and teachers. There should be only one role of a teacher and a school. Education. The sooner we stop expecting anything but an education from schools, the better off we will be.


  25. - Skeptic - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 3:01 pm:

    “Second the pay for too many districts is still significantly lower than other private industry.” And I don’t see that changing while the vocal “Not one more penny of taxes” crowd (well represented here in this forum) keeps shouting.


  26. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 3:01 pm:

    Platon - in special ed? Science?


  27. - Typical - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 3:02 pm:

    If I received my master’s degree and was still capped at 3%. I would look for a new career or career path. Why go into debt to only receive a salary increase that is basically inflation?

    Bingo-Retired Teacher


  28. - Flowing Comb Over - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    It is hysterical when data is provided and it doesn’t further someone’s narrative, people call it wrong and then throw out an anecdotal and unverified claim.


  29. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 3:23 pm:

    ==And I don’t see that changing while the vocal “Not one more penny of taxes” crowd (well represented here in this forum) keeps shouting.==

    Skeptic, this is actually a good time for changing that. The people you mention no longer have any pull at the Capitol. No one wants to listen to them championing austerity, and voters rejected their views overwhelmingly last November. Why do you think they all come here to Capfax to complain?


  30. - City Zen - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    ==no district will offer beyond the 3% for fear of a voter backlash==

    I do think this could’ve been handled better or differently. But I do find it amusing that, when attempts are made to allocate the actual costs closer to the level at which the services are rendered, there’s so much push back. When the actual cost could be hidden in some giant, nebulous state account far away, it’s all coolz.

    It’s not a coincidence that the teacher unions will fight every attempt to push retirement costs to the local districts because that’s where the salary levels are set. Transparency is not their virtue.


  31. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 3:31 pm:

    =But, boy, we don’t have any problems filling administrator positions (snark).=

    Good luck with that. Tell about the last time that you tried to hire a Principal or assistant principal? The pool of candidates continues to shrink and the quality isn’t great.

    This will translate into greater mobility and high salaries. Market forces and all of that good stuff.

    =no district will offer beyond the 3% for fear of a voter backlash. Districts that go beyond the cap pay significant penalties. =

    The “penalty” was about $13 for every $1 over the state instituted limitation. That was for anyone the received an increase over 6% that was part of their retirement calculation. So last 5 years.

    The amount may have changed but that is pretty good reason not to go above the 3%. That also effects the pool of people that can coach etc.


  32. - Platon - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:02 pm:

    You don’t need masters degree to teach most school subjects.


  33. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:25 pm:

    =You don’t need masters degree to teach most school subjects.=

    You don’t need one for any really. Dual-credit is mostly yes.

    I guess I am trying to understand your point. Educators shouldn’t be educated? Or aspire to be more educated?

    In just about any other developed country your statement would be laughed at.


  34. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:27 pm:

    @CZ- this wasn’t and attempt to get local districts to pay pension costs. It was an attempt to get local districts to pay the debt the legislature created. Other wise it would have been dollar for dollar not some ramped up cluster.


  35. - AFAustin - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:31 pm:

    After paying $250.00 to the State of Illinois for TB test, background check, substitute certification, etc., I did not even pay for the price of becoming a sub until I had worked an entire week. Yes, bureaucracy is a problem, but the pay is dismal…I made more money serving as the school custodian and bus driver (with two Master’s degrees).


  36. - Anon - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:41 pm:

    Seems like this survey also measured the ability to provide an honest self assessment.

    We should wonder about the folks from those “no problems” district.


  37. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:42 pm:

    Blue Dog Dem

    Grotesquely high teacher salary in Naperville? Maybe because the cost of living in or anywhere near Naperville is grotesquely high. Why can you earn more at the same type of job in Chicago than in Naperville? Applies to private industry as well.


  38. - Platon - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:44 pm:

    JS, there should be no additional compensation whether or not one has a Master’s is my point.


  39. - Platon - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:46 pm:

    Anonymous, thanks for pointing out why a state wide minimum wage is not a good idea.


  40. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 4:47 pm:

    I seriously hope that this shortage continues and worsens. In one respect I hope this thinking that it will be a good lesson for such disrespect show to those in the profession (that everyone benefitted from, by the way) but then again, in times past when there were shortages, schools just hired warm bodies that were breathing. I guess we’ll just have to see what parents want for their children/grandchildren.


  41. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 5:12 pm:

    @Platon- just for educators or every other profession that values increased knowledge and skill relays to their profession?

    I hope you are never in a leadership position.


  42. - Enviro - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 6:00 pm:

    PLaton, thanks for pointing out why there is a teacher shortage.


  43. - Platon - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 7:19 pm:

    I hope you realize that a master’s doesn’t make one a better teacher.


  44. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 8:27 pm:

    @Platon- clearly you are impervious to rational thought.

    What I realize is that you know absolutely nothing about education. You clearly ascribe to the emerging anti-intellectualism movement and hate knowledge and learning.

    A Master’s degree doesn’t “make one a better teacher” and neither does anything else unless the person applies their new knowledge.

    Education is a field the values learning. It is in fact the entire point. We encourage teachers and all educators to be life long learners. It is just a thing.

    A Master’s can help a person be a better teacher and like nearly every other field people are paid for their experience and education.

    I guess you look for cheaper doctors that don’t continue to take course work and training, because all of that learnin’ doesn’t make them a better doctor.


  45. - Yooper in Diaspora - Tuesday, Mar 12, 19 @ 8:38 pm:

    My spouse is a substitute teacher in rural Illinois. The pay is so low and the labor so contingent (especially this past January with the snow days) that I think that the report on shortages of substitute teachers should read: “we have a shortage of people who have a spouse with a steady job or who are retired, i.e., a shortage of those who can afford contingent labor that may bring in only $5000-$7000 a year in rural areas.”


  46. - Barrington - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 8:45 am:

    Not surprised there is a teacher shortage, with such low employment numbers. Schools will have to be more competitive to get and retain new teachers. There are many things that should be changed. Changing mid career to or from teaching in Illinois can be a financial disaster with the Soial Security GPO and WEP.


  47. - Redbird - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 2:17 pm:

    The logical result of the Tier 2 pension system, lack of professional respect, and increased hoops to jump through (TAP, EDTPA). Not to mention crumbling family structures which lead to unmotivated students in many areas of the state. It’s hard to be a good teacher. It used to be teachers and administrators would identify students who they thought would make good teachers and encourage them to enter the profession. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen near as often as it once did. The salary and benefits earned as a teacher do not mesh with the level of responsibility and impact teachers have on our society.


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