By A.J. Harris
BLOOMINGTON – A new statewide survey conducted by regional school superintendents finds that the teacher shortage in Illinois schools continues to grow, especially in school districts in the central and southern parts of the state.
The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendent of Schools, which represents all 102 counties in Illinois, heard from over 500 schools across the state about the shortage.
The survey’s findings include 85 percent of districts identifying a major or minor problem with teacher shortages, as well as 60 percent reporting a problem finding substitute teachers.
The survey went on to say that there were over 1,000 remaining unfilled or are filled by unqualified professionals, and classes are being cancelled because of the shortage.
Contrasted with the shortage of teachers, nearly 70 percent of reporting schools have few problems with administrator shortages.
Mark Jontry, president of the IARSS and Regional Superintendent of Schools for Regional Office of Education #17, says that the study’s results show a troubling trend, but reaffirms the commitment and effort to turn the results around.
“We must do more to understand why fewer teachers are interested in positions in schools around the state and find solutions to address those reasons.” Jontry said.
“We will continue to work to make teaching an attractive career for young people, and help those converting from other careers get into the classroom,” he added.
Efforts to address the shortage so far include a substitute teacher fair day earlier in the year, which made it easy for subs to get signed up and added, and a future educator forum, which gave high school students the chance to speak with college students pursuing teaching as well as early career educators.
A.J. Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org