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Are The Teacher Shortage Short-Term Solutions Working? And Are We Examining The Root Cause?

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Photo by Spencer Tritt
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DeKalb High School

Illinois’ teacher shortage has only gotten worse over the past few years. The legislature passed measures in the last year meant to help relieve the problem. But, as the academic year begins, school officials still have concerns.

Illinois eliminated the basic skills test and boosted minimum teacher salaries to $40,000.

Amanda Christensen, DeKalb County Regional Superintendent, says she’s already thinking of the financial side effects of the new minimum salary. For instance, would teachers already making that much get raises to keep pay equitable?

She says the changes should help teachers, but she’s not sure if it moves the needle for people considering a career in teaching.

“We're all doing what we can to get through this shortage, but I'm not quite sure we've actually addressed yet why we do not have enough young people wanting to go into education and pursuing it," said Christensen.

Some of the most difficult positions to fill statewide have been counselors, school psychologists and special ed teachers.

But some districts, like DeKalb, have been desperate for substitute teachers more than anything.

The state changed the requirements for substitutes last year to attract more people. Christensen says they still don’t have enough.

“I think that while getting the license became easier, promotion and awareness that this was an opportunity for individuals -- that has been challenging," she said.

Christensen says it’s important for teachers to actively encourage students to pursue teaching. She’d also like to see statewide clubs and organizations for future educators.