CASEY, Ill. (WTHI) - The state of Illinois' teacher shortage continues, as almost 1,600 teaching positions are vacant in the state.
Lawmakers created a bill setting a $40,000 yearly minimum salary for teachers. It would've been a gradual increase over the next five years. But Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill.
He said districts should consider merit pay or extra money for certain subjects.
Of course, school districts want to pay their teachers more, but at this point, state funding is just now getting consistent again. However, to a retired teacher, a pay raise for educators is a no-brainer.
Gretchen Murphy served as the Middle School English teacher for Casey-Westfield Schools in Illinois for 17 years.
She shares, "I just always loved children and I knew that was a path I wanted to take and I was really happy as a teacher."
But unfortunately, fewer people are calling teaching their passion these days. Now, the state is facing another year of teacher shortages. Some think the lack of balance between work and compensation is to blame.
Murphy says, "You have to prepare pretty much everything you're going to say all day. You have to know exactly what is going to come out of your mouth. And then you have to do your work after, which is grading and the things that are all behind the scenes that people don't really see."
Murphy says the efforts of teachers are priceless. They mentor and change the lives of students, not to mention bring extra supplies into the classroom- funded from their own wallets. At this point in her life, Murphy has nothing to gain or lose from Rauner's move. But based on experience, she feels educators deserved that raise.
She shares, "I understand that they have hard decisions to make, but I feel that they should always put education first. And I feel that they should discuss it with the educators, rather than making the decision as a non-educator."
News 10 also spoke to Casey-Westfield Superintendent Dee Scott. Besides pay, Scott says rigorous license requirements keep many from going into education in the first place.
Scott reflects, "There are certain tests that they have to take now with about a forty percent pass rate. Very few people want to spend all that money on a four-year degree and then not be able to pass the licensing exam. So, I think our state could look at making our licensing requirements more reasonable."
Scott adds that the state's budget issues may have also played a large role in why Illinois is having such a dire teacher shortage.
She says, "For so many years our freshman going into college were hearing all this negativity and also hearing you know that places were maybe going to have to shut down because they weren't receiving payments, and it just didn't look like something you'd want to place your future on."
Scott believes the state will soon start coming out of this teacher shortage. However, only the next four years will tell with the next batch of potential teachers.
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