Illinois Senate Democrats hosted a press conference yesterday introducing legislation aimed at helping the state’s ongoing teacher shortage crisis.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, there are more than 4,000 unfilled positions in schools. In an attempt to address the vacancies and increase the substitute teacher pool, State Senator Meg Loughran Cappel of Shorewood introduced a plan – Senate Bill 3915 – that would waive the application fee for short-term substitute teaching licensees when the governor has declared a disaster due to a public health emergency.
Additionally, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas of Chicago introduced legislation – Senate Bill 3988 – to lower the age requirement for teacher assistants from 19 to 18 for those who work in Pre-K to 8th grade classrooms.
48th District State Senator Doris Turner of Springfield says she looks forward to these common sense reforms passing to address the teacher shortage: “I am hopeful that we can continue to work together on a common sense solution that ensures that children of Illinois retain their access to a high-quality education. Our educational system is incredibly resilient, and we see that each and every day. [My] bill will help give schools extra flexibility when managing teachers’ absences.”
Turner’s bill will allow substitute teachers to stay longer in lieu of a full-time teacher’s absence: “Senate Bill 3907 will extend the amount of days that a short-term sub can teach a class from 5 to 15 school days. This measure will buy schools an extra two weeks of time so that they can find a better long-term solution to their staffing issues.”
These bills are currently before the Senate Education committee hoping to draw votes on the floor before the close of Spring Session.