School districts facing challenges with a teacher shortage and chronic absenteeism

State Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) says she visited a district which not only does not have enough teachers, it doesn’t have enough bus drivers. (Photo courtesy: WJBC/File)

By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – Chronic absenteeism and a growing teacher shortage are among the challenges to public education.

“The State We’re In,” a new report from the education interest group Advance Illinois, is not all that great, according to a panel discussion for the City Club of Chicago.

“Most people teach because they care, and they want to make a difference,” said former Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson, adding the prevailing practice seems to be “it’s okay not to pay them adequately. If we continue to do those things, it’s just going to get harder.” 

“It should shock everybody,” responded Advance Illinois president Robin Steans, “that half the people who work on the early childhood education task force are eligible for welfare. I want you to pause on that for just a moment. We have a crisis in people getting in, and half the people who work just based on their wages are eligible for welfare.”

And State Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) says she visited a district which not only does not have enough teachers, it doesn’t have enough bus drivers.

Dave Dahl can be reached at


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