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Teacher shortage persists

Monday, Mar 1, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Capitol News Illinois on the teacher shortage

Education researchers in Illinois say the reasons for the teacher shortage are numerous and complex, but it boils down to the fact that there are more veteran teachers around the state retiring or leaving the profession than there are new teachers coming out of university schools of education.

James Anderson, dean of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Education, said in an interview that for a variety of reasons, including the cost of a college education and the salaries teachers earn after graduating, teaching has become a less attractive career than many other professions.

“You graduate from high school, you come to college to become a teacher, you borrow a significant amount of money along the way, then you go into the profession with a very low salary,” he said. “And then you try to pay off your student debt and perform your job as a teacher. And that’s a very difficult invitation to accept.”

The minimum wage for a teacher in Illinois is $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year and is scheduled to increase under state law to $40,000 by the 2023-2024 school year.

An analysis of the survey results showed a strong correlation between the severity of the shortage and the average teacher salary in a given district. As teacher salaries increase, superintendents report less of a problem with teacher shortages.

In other words, treat your people well and make sure they can earn a decent living.

The full survey is here.

…Adding… Press release…

Golden Apple, an Illinois nonprofit committed to preparing, supporting, and mentoring aspiring teachers, is working to resolve this crisis. Golden Apple prepares future teachers to serve in schools and communities in need, resulting in not only adding more teachers to our classrooms, but also increasing diversity within the profession. Over half of Golden Apple’s Scholars are teachers of color, compared to only 15% of Illinois teachers statewide.

Golden Apple President Alan Mather released the following statement re the report:

“Today’s report is sadly no surprise to those of us who work every day to support and prepare future teachers to serve in schools- and districts-of-need. Over the past few years, there’s been a series of taking two steps forward and then one step back; the shortage continues despite programs like our Scholars and Accelerators that are boosting the number of teachers, especially teachers of color, entering Illinois classrooms. We have willing partners in State government who recognize the teacher shortage cliff we face, but Illinois can’t go it alone; the federal government needs to join in this critically important fight for our children’s futures.”


  1. - Sangamo Girl - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:52 am:

    And school districts like Altamont are going to be at the very back of the recruitment line.

  2. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:52 am:

    Pay the teachers? Won’t someone think of poor Ken Griffin? He needs the extra billion or two.

  3. - FranklinCounty - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:55 am:

    Anyone who does not draw the connection between the current pension crisis and the inability to pay new public servants competitively is either woefully ignorant or disingenuous. Ken Griffin’s fault…yeah, right 0_0.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    === Anyone who does not draw the connection===

    Show *your* work.


  5. - Scamp640 - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:58 am:

    @ FranklinCounty. Are you saying that teachers in this state, who have already paid into a pension, should have their pensions cut?

    I think you might be woefully ignorant or disingenuous.

  6. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:00 pm:

    When legislation was brought forward to increase the minimum wage to $40,000 a year I was both shocked and appalled at what teachers were earning in some jurisdictions especially in a field that is at least somewhat competitive.

    Young people looking at beginning a career as an educator are looking at depressed wages, not great retirement benefits, and have also had to shoulder the cost of increased college tuition. Illinois has a great reputation in K-12 education and has some great schools, but most of the people I went to college with who were interested in becoming teachers got licensed in Illinois because the license was reciprocal in other states and took positions in other states that paid significantly better than their opportunities here.

    Utilizing a progressive income tax increase to increase state funding to K-12 education in order to relieve the dependence on local property tax revenues for a significant portion of funding was our best option for supporting the structural changes required to make all of the State of Illinois a place where people want to teach.

    I don’t know what we’re supposed to do about this problem now.

  7. - ChrisB - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    ==James Anderson, dean of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Education, said in an interview that for a variety of reasons, including the cost of a college education and the salaries teachers earn after graduating,==

    If only there were specialized teacher colleges and they were priced accordingly.

    You don’t need to go to the premier state university to become a teacher. It’s like buying a Range Rover to shuttle the kids to and from soccer practice.

  8. - Cool Papa Bell - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:05 pm:

    ==James Anderson, dean of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Education, said in an interview that for a variety of reasons, including the cost of a college education and the salaries teachers earn after graduating,==

    Says the man being paid $243,512… Wonder what some of the reasons are college educations are so expensive?

  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:07 pm:

    To the post,

    The reality in my own extended family who are teachers;

    Where they are teaching, even the competitive wages with more experience, the student loans to be educated as a teacher is a tough road… as the silly continue to see the “high wage” teachers as the norm. They’re not the norm.

    Also, if teachers pay their portion of their own pensions, it is confusing why there is angst at those paying what they owe?

  10. - NIU Grad - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:09 pm:

    “The minimum wage for a teacher in Illinois is $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year and is scheduled to increase under state law to $40,000 by the 2023-2024 school year.”

    This is the most depressing thing I’ve read today. Our neighborhoods statewide are treating teachers as such a low priority, while also insisting that teachers go back to in-person learning. With the Trumpian demonization of teachers, there’s no way this improves in our more conservative corners of the state.

  11. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:10 pm:

    ===If only there were specialized teacher colleges and they were priced accordingly.===

    Which University are you thinking of here?

    What’s their 2020-2021 academic year tuition?

    What was their 2010-2011 academic year tuition?

    What was their 2000-2011 academic year tuition?

    What was their 1990-1991 academic year tuition?

    I believe your findings will help you understand the problem, but you should report back to us about what you’ve learned. Before you ridicule students at a state school for not choosing a cheaper state school, you should do your work.

  12. - Mr Landers - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    Baby Boomer retirements are certainly part of this.

  13. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    Might help if teachers who worked in private sector long enough to qualify could get social security benefits along with any pension benefit they also earned. I know no double dipping say the politicians who triple dip.

  14. - Morty - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:20 pm:

    People are not swarming to a profession that 1/2 of the country treats with utter disdain and contempt.


  15. - Friendly Bob Adams - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:21 pm:

    The Tier 2 pension system is part of the problem. Higher tuition and more student loan debt are also important, but the significant reduction in future pension benefits is not helping.

  16. - Cool Papa Bell - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    I do wonder if there is an opportunity here to transform this part of higher education.

    Why not a two year teachers certificate and run the education process of a few community colleges? Create an intense curriculum over two years, including summer sessions and graduate teachers quickly and with less debt.

    Then ask for teachers to seek a secondary certificate if you will after three or four years of teaching.

    I’m all for paying teachers more - but if they have less overhead going into a career that starts out at $40k they might be more likely to stick it out.

  17. - Masker - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    What does trump have to do with what teachers in Illinois are paid for???

  18. - dbk - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    The anti-teachers’ union movement and relentless criticism of teachers over the past twenty or so years must also be considered contributing factors.

    The shortage is nationwide - est. we are 100,000 teachers short. Cf.

    –I don’t know what we’re supposed to do about this problem now.–

    It can’t be solved in the short term, and that’s something everybody at the table has to acknowledge. There’s a huge discussion going on about this issue among K-12 professionals.

  19. - levivotedforjudy - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:24 pm:

    A lot of people yap about how great teachers are and how important they are until it is time to figure out how to pay them more. Then their dedication to their profession is questioned. I call a lot of people on this hypocrisy unfortunately .

  20. - JS Mill - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:24 pm:

    =If only there were specialized teacher colleges and they were priced accordingly.

    You don’t need to go to the premier state university to become a teacher. It’s like buying a Range Rover to shuttle the kids to and from soccer practice.=

    I don’t even know where to begin with such a ridiculously uninformed comment..

    So you want teachers to go to a Walmart level training facility to learn how to provide a rolls-royce level education?

    Teacher learnin’ also involves subject area mastery as well as instructional skills. Great Universities provide that.

    The district I lead is a small rural district with an approximate 50% poverty level, eyt we are 83% locally funded and 13% state funding. We are in no way shape or form wealthy yet our funding would make one think that we are. Thanks to growth in the value of farmland our most recent teacher contract allowed us to offer teachers a 3% increase after years of 1% or no increases. We are still way behind other area districts in salary. We will not be catching up any time soon. The EBF did nothing for us, not even an additional 20K in funds even though we are in Tier2.

    If you want to see the teacher shortage in numbers, look at the number if people taking the licensure tests. Begin with 2010 and see what happens to the numbers between 2012 and 2016. The drop off is incredible. I posted on this years ago, the percentage drop over 2010 was over 70% in the worst of the years if memory serves me. The deniers at the time remind me of the anti-maskers of today.

    This is/was a predictable problem but the solution is not simple. Years of blaming teachers and pensions demoralized teachers and discouraged people from entering the field. Tier 2 and the school funding crisis were the final elements of the crisis.

  21. - Blake - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:26 pm:

    Thinking of NIU Grad’s comment, are there regional differences in teacher shortage/recruiting difficulties including adjusting for pay differences?

  22. - Nicky - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:27 pm:

    $15 /hour burger flipper
    Gets u 31,200

  23. - Bigtwich - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:27 pm:

    ==The Tier 2 pension system is part of the problem.==

    A smaller pension that is reduced if you don’t teach till age 67? Not much incentive.

  24. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:30 pm:

    ===are there regional differences ===

    Don’t wait to be spoon-fed. Click the links.

  25. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:32 pm:

    ===the significant reduction in future pension benefits is not helping.===

    Imagine that you’re twenty-four years old and about to turn twenty-five. You’re half way through your 2nd year of teaching. You’re broke. Your roommate makes more than you as a server at a bar & grill and often wakes you up when they get home and the end of their shift, but you can’t afford your own place. You have no savings and almost never eat out, or even go to a movie. Your checking account runs to nearly zero balance before each pay check is deposited, and you’re hoping to be able to visit a friend from college so you’re trying to land gigs as a tutor.

    You’re thinking of quitting. You’re constantly thinking of quitting. And then one day you realize that you can’t receive your full pension until you’re sixty-seven. 42 more years of this. 42 more years.

    That’s when you decide to find a new job. You didn’t even bother trying to figure out how much your pension would be worth.

  26. - Blake - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:33 pm:

    Marker, I think the comment has more to do with things like Rep. Mary Miller bashing teachers as indoctrinating students. People may be less likely to pursue an occupation when those around them demonize people in the occupation. Looking at the map in the study, I don’t see much regional difference.

  27. - City Zen - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:34 pm:

    There’s a few recent studies on this, but this is primarily a STEM vs non-STEM issue. Education majors earn salaries very similar to those received by other non-STEM graduates, especially when compared to their college classmates.

    The other problem to solve is getting young people who want to live and work in small rural towns in any profession, let alone teaching. Is adding a significant premium going to get the teacher ins Schaumburg to move to Taylorville?

  28. - Mason born - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:39 pm:

    Something I’ve wondered about post COVID, hopefully around the corner, can some of the tech and experience we’ve developed help in this regard. For instance if you have a small district with a comparable budget could you group together with similar districts to hire a teacher to remote teach subjects you may not have enough kids for. Like college Algebra, Physics, etc. School district provides tech and supervision for the kids while they learn but don’t have to justify another teacher whose classes will be sparsely attended.

  29. - Seats - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:45 pm:

    Mason Born. I like that, but I think you will run into some conflicts over who pays for it and what percentage do they pay.

  30. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:59 pm:

    ===Education majors earn salaries very similar to those received by other non-STEM graduates===

    And yet the shortage persists across all concentrations, not just STEM. The break down by specialization of the education can be found on page 16 of the report.

    Most concentrations associated with STEM didn’t make the cut for the highest percentage of unqualified hire or unfilled positions.

  31. - SchoolPrincipal - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:59 pm:

    “this is primarily a STEM vs non-STEM issue”

    STEM is certainly a huge issue, but Special Education is the largest issue; Bilingual education, ESL, early childhood are other areas of need. Heck, in Illinois, there is a shortage of PE teachers!

  32. - The bottom isn’t yet in sight - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 1:07 pm:

    Just lower the standards even more to become an “educator”. Instead of trusted family physicians we get advanced practice nurses.
    Test of basic skills for teachers discarded as apparently too few teaching college graduates could spell “cat” or multiply 4×4 so why not issue teaching license as combo deal with fishing license.

  33. - Mason born - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 1:12 pm:

    Seats, I can see your point. It’d be nice to see more opportunities for some of these kids who just happen to be on the wrong zip code. We moved to a better high school but not everyone can afford that.

  34. - Stormsw7706 - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 1:32 pm:

    I love it when people say they support education. Look at the property tax referendums that pass. Almost all that have been successful have been for facilities not for the education fund. The money for these sports facilities with attached schools always seems to be there, but money to increase teacher salaries, not so much.

  35. - btowntruth from forgottonia - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 1:41 pm:

    “treat your people well and make sure they can earn a decent living.”

    In forgottonia there are a bunch of people running schools who can’t quite grasp that.

  36. - btowntruth from forgottonia - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 1:51 pm:

    And some districts have their priorities out of whack.
    Like getting new LED scoreboards instead of new textbooks.

  37. - A - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 2:04 pm:

    No question that compensation is a massive part of why people don’t want to teach. But it is merely the tip of the iceberg. Being treated live everyone’s personal servant and maligned constantly, even in the press is not particularly palatable.

    Garbage collectors are more appreciated for what they do.

    Every parent thinks teachers are indispensable when their own children are in school. Critical. Once their children are out of school, those same teachers become overpaid bums. Go figure.

    The media has been a tremendous help in informing young people about just what exactly they’re in for should they become a teacher and those young, bright people are choosing other professions that pay them well and respect what they do.

  38. - DuPage - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 2:05 pm:

    Tier 2 pensions are so bad that a new teacher today will usually end up paying more into the pension then they will ever collect as a retiree. Add to that they get no social security from teaching, and any social security they get from other jobs is severely cut by up to 90%. New teachers have plenty of reason to leave Illinois and teach in another state.

  39. - swIll - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 2:31 pm:

    From 2015 to 2020, the Illinois student population has decreased by 97,538. In the same period, the number of teachers has increased by 1,562. (Illinois Report Card, ISBE). People are still going into education, but maybe not enough. I would like to see a reporter interview some of the school of education placement officials, as well as a few elem ed and HS subject teachers, to get their takes.

  40. - swILL - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 2:36 pm:

    S/B: a few “newly graduated” elem ed and HS subject teachers.

  41. - Nathan - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 3:19 pm:

    Don’t forget too that if you only have a bachelor’s degree, you top out most pay scales after 7 years or so. To get further pay increases, teachers are required to get a master’s degree, further adding to the student loan problems. Teachers are forced to pay for expensive degrees and they do not get the appropriate return on their investment. They need to be paid more.

  42. - Blake - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 3:29 pm:

    Nathan they could also stop requiring master’s degrees to move up the pay scale.

  43. - City Zen - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 3:30 pm:

    ==Tier 2 pensions are so bad==

    Any Tier 2 teacher who entered the workforce out of college is still at least two decades away from collecting pension benefits, let alone full benefits. Plenty of time to enhance Tier 2 pensions. It’s already been done for safety personnel.

    If history has taught us anything, it’s that Illinois likes its pension sweeteners. Look for Tier 2 to be enhanced well before these folks reach retirement age. Then watch the pension liability and yearly pension payments escalate.

  44. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 3:31 pm:

    === Look for Tier 2 to be enhanced well before these folks reach retirement age.===

    What are the lottery numbers, while you’re at it.


  45. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 3:51 pm:

    Salary, being treated as a professional with a valued voice, professional working conditions, and a pension that has real value. Long lasting factors that attract and keep educators in the profession. Coming from someone who spent 45 years as an educator and whose father served students for 50 years. Given today’s conditions I would be hard pressed to recommend someone go into teaching.

  46. - A - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 4:06 pm:

    I advised my children that if they chose an Education degree I would not be helping in any way with their college costs. I wanted them to be able to support themselves and a family someday, which as the main income provider, would be darn difficult for a teacher to do without working multiple side jobs.

    Luckily, they weren’t interested anyway.

  47. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 5:55 pm:

    I just don’t get what people just don’t get…..especially the public school/pension bashing libertarian free-marketeers.

    It’s Econ 101. You know….the free market you guys love so much.
    Supply and Demand.
    All your teacher/pension bashing helped decrease the supply and now you’re gonna have to pay more, so cough it up.
    Or quit complaining.

  48. - marylouise - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 9:47 pm:

    It costs $150 to have the State Board of Education review your
    college transcripts to see if you need any additional classes (if you have already graduated).
    This is discouraging. There are more factors than one thinks.

  49. - City Zen - Tuesday, Mar 2, 21 @ 8:49 am:

    ==There are more factors than one thinks.==

    How much does the NEA and IEA charge in union dues for a teacher in New Trier vs Taylorville?

  50. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 2, 21 @ 8:54 am:

    === How much does the NEA and IEA charge in union dues for a teacher in New Trier vs Taylorville?===

    Use the Google, report back.


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