In response to the state’s ongoing teacher shortage, new laws intended to cut red tape for teachers and offer more teacher opportunities for military spouses, were recently signed into law. House Bill 5202 was also signed, creating a Youth Budget Commission charged with producing a year fiscal analysis of enacted state budget items that directly impact children and adolescents.
Senate Bill 1829 and Senate Bill 3536 work together improve educational outcomes for students across the state. Senate Bill 1829 seeks to increase the number of eligible childcare professionals without lowering certification standards, while Senate Bill 3536 makes it easier for willing educators to expand their skills, allowing Gateways Level 5 teachers in a community-based PFA program to earn a PEL through an alternative licensure program while staying at their current jobs.
According to a 2017 Teacher Shortage Survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, 78 percent of the districts surveyed identified either a minor or serious problem with teacher shortages and over half indicated a serious problem with substitute teacher shortages.
Senate Bill 2658 extends the validity of a Professional Educator License with Stipulations from two years to three years for service members and their spouses.
“This law makes it easier for military spouses to secure work in Illinois as a teacher,” said Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo), who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “It not only addresses our teacher shortage, but helps ease the burden on military families by permitting a spouse of an active duty military member to work for up to three years. This is very helpful, as our service members and their families are often in transition, but this offers some stability and peace of mind.”
House Bill 4742 allows school districts experiencing severe teacher shortages to contract with a third party recruiting firm to supplement their substitute teaching search. This bill empowers local school districts to positively impact the teacher shortage they face, while also protecting existing school staff.
The governor also signed House Bill 5771 that requires programs receiving Preschool for All or Preschool for All Expansion funds to collect and review chronic absence data which will be made public in 2020. The data will help determine the support and resources needed to engage families and lower the chronic absenteeism seen in many communities.
House Bill 5196 will decrease the fees teacher’s aids must pay to become licensed from $50 to $25, removing financial obstacles that have prevented individuals from maintaining and obtaining employment in Illinois.
These bills, along with House Bill 5627 that the governor signed earlier this summer, work together to cut some of the red tape for educators in Illinois.
“The key to a brighter future for our kids is education. As such, we need to make sure our schools have enough teachers to teach the many different kinds of courses and programs for all ages and all schools across our state,” said Senator Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria), who serves as Republican spokesperson on the Senate Education Committee. “These new laws provide good, common-sense, bipartisan changes that will help ease the teacher shortage.”
The bills are a product of over a year of consultation and discussion between the Illinois Early Learning Council, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Youth, and a broad array of education experts and stakeholders.