Article contributed by a member of the Illinois House Democrats.
SPRINGFIELD – Rural and downstate school districts will have more tools to help overcome the challenges of a statewide teacher shortage under a new law that is based on input from central Illinois educators.
The plan, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, was signed into law today. It is influenced by suggestions from teachers in and near Macoupin and Montgomery counties who met with Manar in the fall to discuss the problem and possible solutions.
Among other things, the measure slashes red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creates a short-term substitute teaching license and allows downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.
“This is a smart plan that gets to the root of the teacher shortage problem in Illinois – too much red tape and unnecessary restrictions that deter good, quality educators from seeking jobs in our classrooms,” Manar said. “I want to thank the teachers who took the time to help me and other lawmakers understand the barriers and who contributed ideas that were incorporated into this law.”
The measure (House Bill 5627) received bipartisan support and no opposition in the Senate or the House. It will do the following:
- Provide full reciprocity for out-of-state educators.
- Create a short-term substitute teaching license to allow people with certain qualifications to substitute teach for no more than five consecutive days. The $25 application fee may be reimbursed if the person teaches 10 days on the license.
- Allows downstate retired teachers to substitute teacher for 120 days a year without jeopardizing their retirement benefits, rather than the current limit of 100 days.
- Allows educators whose licenses have lapsed from failure to complete professional development to qualify for a substitute teaching license.
- Requires school districts to create a short-term substitute teacher training program to provide information on curriculum, classroom management techniques, school safety and building and district operations.