OUR VIEW: Focus on teacher shortage


Mattoon High School administrative assistant Tammy Munyon hands out supplies to students on Feb. 18. A new report is showing teacher shortages across Illinois. 


Herald & Review editorial board

The teacher shortage isn’t new. Not even close.

For years, we’ve been told about and reported on school districts’ concerns about unfilled teaching positions.

Unfortunately, talking seems to be all that’s being accomplished.

We all talk a good game about public education. Of course we want our children educated. Of course we want good teachers. Of course.

But we’re not particularly crazy about the idea of paying for it. Low pay is regularly cited as a reason teaching candidates aren’t attracted to positions. That’s not solved by telling people they’re hired at the same old low wage and by the way you have to buy your own classroom supplies.

Many candidates are reluctant to take jobs in certain areas of the state, with low-income and rural districts being a problem. Efforts have to be made to make those jobs more palatable. As with any employer, they’re trying to entice the candidate with the positives of the area beyond employment.

Aspiring teachers are thinking twice about taking on debt to get their college degrees and then facing decades of debt paying loans. Illinois’ present $34,576 minimum annual salary for teachers is to increase to a state-decreed $40,000 for the 2023-2024 year.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued waivers that have made it easier for new teachers to be licensed. While that’s helped build on the bridge toward more positions being filled, its effects on testing results have to be determined. The goal shouldn’t be to open the gates enough to let more people in. The goal is to interest enough people to want to go through the gates.

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March 5, 2021 at 11:16PM

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