A bill favored by several Metro East legislators to address teacher shortages was signed over the weekend during Kids’ Day at the Illinois State Fai.
Gov. Bruce Rauner said the new law will cut red tape for educators and provide military spouses with more teaching opportunities.
“This legislation represents true bipartisan collaboration to improve our education system for children, teachers and families across Illinois,” Rauner said. “We want our teachers focused on enriching, challenging and encouraging the minds of our youth, not licensing paperwork. These bills cut red tape without lowering our expectations for quality instructors.”
Rauner also signed House Bill 5202, creating a Youth Budget Commission to produce an annual fiscal analysis of enacted state budget items that directly impact children and adolescents.
Senate Bill 1829 and Senate Bill 3536 work together to expand the early childhood educator pipeline by working to align the career pathway for educators. SB3536 remediates an existing oversight in the licensure process and ensures that state laws are more closely aligned with the actualities of Illinois’ childcare system.
“SB 3536 is an important bill that would afford Gateways Level 5 teachers in a community-based PFA program the chance to earn a PEL through an alternative licensure program while staying at their current jobs,” said Representative Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez (D-Cicero), who sponsored the bill. “To mitigate the rising teacher shortage, we need to take every action available to make it easy for those willing to expand their professional skills. I’m proud to have sponsored the bill, which will allow more mobility for education professionals to secure additional professional licenses.”
SB 1829, signed earlier, targets underserved communities and increases the number of eligible childcare professionals without lowering the standard of certification.
“We know the importance of ensuring that every child from every zip code has access to high-quality preschool programs. Data confirms that access to these vital programs can have lifelong positive effects, leading to lower chances of becoming a teen parent or being arrested for violent crime and leading to higher rates of high school graduation and college attendance,” said Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), who sponsored the legislation.
According to a 2017 Teacher Shortage Survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, 78 percent of the districts surveyed identified either a minor or serious problem with teacher shortages and over half indicated a serious problem with substitute teacher shortages.
Senate Bill 2658 extends the validity of a Professional Educator License with Stipulations from two years to three years for service members and their spouses.
“This law makes it easier for military spouses to secure work in Illinois as a teacher,” said Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo), who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “It not only addresses our teacher shortage, but helps ease the burden on military families by permitting a spouse of an active duty military member to work for up to three years. This is very helpful, as our service members and their families are often in transition, but this offers some stability and peace of mind.”
“It is fitting that the governor would highlight SB 2658 as we celebrate Illinois children at the State Fair,” said Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove), who sponsored the legislation in the House. “This bill helps ensure we have quality teachers in our classrooms. It also works to make certain that when our service members and their spouses return to civilian life and the workforce, meaningful employment is within reach.”
House Bill 4742 allows school districts experiencing severe teacher shortages to contract with a third party recruiting firm to supplement their substitute teaching search. This bill empowers local school districts to positively impact the teacher shortage they face, while also protecting existing school staff.
The governor also signed House Bill 5771 that requires programs receiving Preschool for All or Preschool for All Expansion funds to collect and review chronic absence data which will be made public in 2020. The data will help determine the support and resources needed to engage families and lower the chronic absenteeism seen in many communities.
House Bill 5196 will decrease the fees teacher’s aids must pay to become licensed from $50 to $25.
“This legislation will ensure that the process is not cumbersome for those individuals who are qualified,” said Representative LaToya Greenwood (D- East St. Louis), who sponsored the bill.
HB5196 will address current obstacles that have prevented individuals from maintaining and obtaining employment in our State.
These bills, along with House Bill 5627 that the governor signed earlier this summer, work together to cut some of the red tape for educators in Illinois.
“The key to a brighter future for our kids is education. As such, we need to make sure our schools have enough teachers to teach the many different kinds of courses and programs for all ages and all schools across our state,” said Senator Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria), who serves as Republican spokesperson on the Senate Education Committee. “These new laws provide good, common-sense, bipartisan changes that will help ease the teacher shortage.”
The bills are a product of over a year of consultation and discussion between the Illinois Early Learning Council, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Youth, and a broad array of education experts and stakeholders.