SPRINGFIELD — Two pieces of bipartisan legislation sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar that are designed to help eliminate Illinois’ teacher shortage were signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker last week.
On Tuesday, the governor signed Senate Bill 1952, which contains several provisions that are designed to recruit and retain qualified teachers in Illinois, including:
- Removing the requirement that teachers must pass a basic skills test to be licensed;
- Permitting K-12 student teachers and early childhood student teachers to be paid;
- Creating a refund program for teachers in underfunded, hard-to-staff school districts to recoup the cost of the teacher performance assessment; and
- Allowing early childhood student teachers to be paid and receive credit.
All of the contents of the bill originated from suggestions made by teachers in Manar’s 48th Senate District.
“It’s well documented that we’re having trouble attracting qualified teachers to Illinois schools and it’s time to change that narrative,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “As I drafted this legislation, I heard from teachers around the state about the problems they’re facing and I’m glad that we were able to come together to create this package and address these problems.”
On Friday, the governor signed Senate Bill 1460, which prioritizes National Board certification funding for hard to staff classrooms and creates incentives for National Board certified teachers to work in rural and remote areas.
Illinois’ teaching shortage is more profound in rural and downstate communities, studies show.
“This teacher shortage is creating a major barrier to providing students with the best educational opportunities available, and downstate communities like those I represent are bearing the brunt of this challenge,” Manar said. “These new laws are another step in the right direction as we fight to recruit and retain qualified teachers in Illinois.”
In addition to prioritizing these funds for high-need communities, the General Assembly also included a $500,000 increase to support for National Board certified teachers in the new state budget, on which Manar was a chief negotiator.
Last year, Manar passed a different set of measures to address the teacher shortage crisis, including slashing red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creating a short-term substitute teaching license and allowing downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits. The packaged was signed into law last June.
Both pieces of legislation will go into effect January 1, 2020.