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Rauner acts to ease Illinois teacher shortage, advance workforce readiness

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed education legislation Friday to ease Illinois’ teacher shortage and expand a pilot to allow high school graduation based on mastery of skills.

With the signing of HB5627, Rauner changed licensure requirements to make it easier for out-of-state, retired and substitute teachers to get certified to teach in Illinois. The new law is designed to address a growing shortage of teachers in the state.

He also signed legislation that makes it possible for teachers to advance students based on competency rather than traditional “seat time.” The shift is designed to reconstruct the high school experience to be more responsive to college and career demands. SB2941 broadens the application of the Postsecondary Workforce Readiness Act, which Rauner signed in 2016.

One in five Illinois teaching positions went unfilled in large measure because of licensure requirements that serve to shrink the pool of available teachers and substitutes.

“We cannot deliver great education without great teachers,” Rauner said. “A majority of our school districts are reporting shortages, and it is unacceptable. Modernizing our licensing systems is a strong first step to that ought to help schools attract high-quality, transformative teachers for our students.”

HB5627 passed with bipartisan support and furthers the administration’s education agenda by addressing a shortage that is reaching crisis proportions in the nation and in Illinois.

“It is a great time to be a teacher in Illinois,” State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D said. “We are committed to ensuring every teacher in every classroom has the resources and support they need to help each child thrive. Allowing for out-of-state reciprocity creates the opportunity for Illinois to welcome additional excellent teachers into our schools. The creation of the short-term substitute teacher license provides an essential tool for districts. We look forward to our schools filling critical vacancies and providing all students the rigorous and well-rounded education they deserve.”

According to a 2017 Teacher Shortage Survey developed by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS) and analyzed by Goshen Education Consulting, 78 percent of the districts surveyed identified either a minor or serious problem with teacher shortages. Over half, 53 percent, of the surveyed districts indicated that they have a serious problem with substitute teacher shortages.

“We can’t offer our children a bright future if we don’t have enough teachers to educate them. This new law will allow us to make major strides in attracting new teachers, retain existing teachers, as well as to help former teachers return to the classroom,” State Senator Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria) said. 

HB5627 becomes law on Sunday. SB2941 is effective immediately.


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