It's now easier for out-of-state teachers to get licensed in Illinois

It's now easier for out-of-state teachers to get licensed in Illinois (MGN Photo)

A new law aimed at shrinking Illinois' teacher shortage is now in effect.

“I think this will be a good first step,” District 186 teacher Neil Calderon said.

House Bill 5627 was signed Friday and went into effect on Monday.

“We try to provide a quality education all around and have some consistency with that,” Riverton Schools Superintendent Brad Polanin said. “It can be difficult when there are not people for those roles and we’re having to go to our contingency plans for certain things.”

This new law would allow qualified, out-of-state teachers to become certified in Illinois.

Before, out-of-state teachers would have to complete Illinois rigorous certification program.

As of Thursday, Springfield School District 186 has 17 open teaching positions.

Three of those have no applicants at all.

“It just adds a new layer of stress and a new challenge to everybody — the administration, the teachers and support staff — to try to make sure to provide the best possible education with what you have available,” Calderon said.

District 186’s Human Resources Director Gina Schurman said they’ve been successful in recruiting teachers to their district from Midwest states, but they have problems keeping them.

“We’ve actually lost teachers,” Schurman said. “They’ve come back for one or two years and then gone back to their original state to avoid the additional coursework and testing in Illinois.”

Schurman said she hopes this new law changes that.

“What this does, is it removes those hurdles,” Schurman said.

Auburn Schools Superintendent Darren Root said they have five positions currently open, three of which have no applicants.

He said this law could help, but first they have to get the teachers to the state.

Several school officials from rural areas said that could be difficult since the state is facing serious financial woes.

Root said there are several other reasons people are leaving the teaching profession or not wanting to go into it at all.

Sean Denney, a lobbyist with the Illinois Education Association, said this law is a good first step, but it doesn’t do enough to shrink the teacher shortage in Illinois.

The Illinois Education Association is the union representing Illinois teachers.

A bill to raise the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 by 2022 is currently sitting on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.

Denney said he’d like Rauner to sign it to make Illinois more competitive with other states.

Earlier this week, Rauner said he supported raising teacher pay, but said he’s worried that setting a required minimum salary could bankrupt small school districts.

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