In a move to stem critical teacher shortages in its pubic schools, Illinois will dramatically boost minimum salaries over the next few years.
The minimum will jump to more than $32,000 in the coming school year, and by the start of school in 2023 it will reach $40,000.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed the pay-raise bill Thursday in Springfield, the state capital. Pritzker’s predecessor, Republican Bruce Rauner, vetoed a similar bill last year.
The minimum-wage hike has been a long time coming: nearly 40 years.
“Pritzker estimated the legislation will lead to raises for about 8,000 teaching positions,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “The current minimum of roughly $10,000 a year was set in 1980 and has left rural districts in the state, in particular, ‘short-changed.’”
In contrast, entry-level teachers in Chicago public schools are paid about $63,000 under their union contract, the Tribune says.
“A survey this year by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that 89% of districts in central Illinois and 92% of districts in southern Illinois reported problems with staffing teacher positions,” reports CBS News.
Teacher shortages are a national problem, with ever-fewer college students choosing not to major in education, thus reducing the supply while demand is on the rise.
“Public schools nationwide don’t have enough teachers,” MarketWatch reported last year, citing the Education Department. “Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia lacked math teachers, alone. Similar shortages were reported for special education, science and foreign languages.”
Low pay is not the only reason for such shortages; teachers have other complaints, including frustration over their “lack of say in schools’ decisions and curriculum,” along with micromanaging by school administrators.