Teachers continue to be in huge demand in Illinois, with nearly 90% of schools reporting that they are experiencing staffing shortages, according to a new study published by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.
The study shows 88% of surveyed school districts in Illinois said they believe they have a teacher shortage, and 96% said they have a substitute teacher shortage.
“It isn’t something we’re gonna cure tomorrow and for me the most desperate concern is around providing the best education for our kids,” said IARSS president Dr. Mark Klaisner.
The IARSS study said possible solutions include enticing more young people to enter the teaching field and better supporting those who start but can be tempted to leave. The study also recommends expanding programs that recruit and support minorities and those who teach in high-need subject areas.
“The long-term solutions are going to be about bolstering the profession and helping young people see how rewarding it can be,” Klaisner said.
Education experts said in addition to a shortage of teachers of traditional subjects, there is a need for special education and bilingual teachers.
DePaul University senior Vince OBrill is studying to become a teacher and said students need teachers more than ever.
“They need school where they can go and see friends, have fun with each other and be creative,” OBrill said.
Anitria Wilson said she is working on a masters degree with a special education endorsement from National Louis University.
“I think I can make a difference because I am an aspiring teacher that wants to teach long-term,” Wilson said. “I would love for that to be my final career.”
Meanwhile, the University of Illinois-Chicago said it is seeing booming enrollment in its teacher licensure programs.
“Even though there’s a shortage nationwide and many districts in Illinois, there does seem to be teachers, young people who are interested in going into teaching to help shore up the gaps,” said Dr. Daniel Maggin of UIC’s Department of Special Education.