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Superintendent survey details statewide teacher shortage in Illinois

URBANA – A study by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools finds that 88 percent of schools say they have a teacher shortage. Seventy-seven percent report the problem is getting worse.

And more than 90 percent of Illinois districts expect it to get worse for the next two years.

Champaign and Ford County regional superintendent Gary Lewis says Champaign area school districts are facing teacher shortages.

Lewis says a complaint he hears from teachers is not having enough time to improve their skills due to the shortage.

“A lot of districts can’t allow them to leave to go get professional development because they don’t have anyone to cover for them,” says Lewis. “So that’s going to have a long-term effect that our teachers don’t continue to get better.”

The survey says 96 percent of schools report a shortage of substitute teachers.

Mark Klaisner, president of The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of School at IARSS, says this has been a problem even before the pandemic.  Klaisner says the output of teachers coming from universities dropped.

“I think of places like ISU and Northern and Eastern Illinois that were putting out really great teachers, and they were putting out like 100 to 800 teachers a year,” Klaisner says.”And by the time we got to 2016 and 2017, we were down to 100 a year”

Lewis says local school districts are trying to ease this shortage by encouraging high school students to become educators in the future.

“That’s really the only way we’re going to get out of this is getting more and more young kids interested in going through the programs. There are only so many people who have people with bachelor’s that have already graduated, that want to leave their current profession and come back into the field.”

Lewis hopes people will understand that a teaching career is not easy and teacher burnout is a real thing.

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Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez- Perez recently earned a B.S. in Journalism with a minor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is now pursuing his Master's in Journalism. Aside as an intern at Illinois Newsroom, Velazquez-Perez has written for The Daily Illini, Cicero Independiente and C-U CitizenAccess. He aspires to be a bilingual public radio journalist

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