Editorial | Addressing the teacher shortage

Editorial | Addressing the teacher shortage

A new law makes it easier for educators in other states to transfer their licenses to Illinois.

Illinois has a teacher shortage, a reality that recently led Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign legislation addressing the problem.

The measure, HB 5626, makes it easier for teachers in other states to transfer their licenses here.

State Rep. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, sponsored the bill. He said it is intended to make it easier for teachers in states like Iowa and Indiana to "come over to Illinois" and get a job.

The law also encourages retired teachers to return to the classroom without jeopardizing their pension benefits. Under its provisions, they now can work as substitutes for up to 120 days a year without affecting their pensions, an increase from 100. The school year is 180 days.

The problem, according to news accounts, is not so much that there are not applicants for open positions, but not nearly as many applicants as there once were.

News accounts indicate that 90 percent of schools in Illinois are short at least one teacher. So the relaxing barriers to persuading retired teachers to come back to the classroom or out-of-state teachers to move here certainly make sense.

Whether these changes make the kind of difference that's needed remains to be seen. It could be that they won't get the job done, and further inducements will be necessary.

Teaching is a tough job, one that discipline issues and excessive paperwork can make even tougher. Then there's the matter of compensation. Some districts pay well, while others don't have the means to pay what doing a good job is worth.

Given the stakes involved — the education of our young people — this problem bears watching. More changes may be necessary to attract good educators.

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