SPRINGFIELD – Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed into law Public Act 100-0013 to help address the critical shortage of educators in Illinois public schools. Public Act 100-0013 streamlines the licensing requirements for various endorsement areas, such as Career and Technical Education (CTE) and school psychologist, and makes other related changes. The measure was spearheaded by the Illinois State Board of Education and was sponsored by Representative Fred Crespo (D-Streamwood) and Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Plainfield).
More than 1,000 teaching positions statewide are unfilled, according to data collected from school districts in October 2016. The majority (approximately 67 percent) of school districts in Illinois have 100 or fewer faculty members. Even one unfilled position in a small school district significantly impacts students’ learning opportunities.
“Teachers are agents of change in students’ lives and agents of change in their schools,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Fulfilling the mission and vision of our public school system depends on the teachers in the classroom. Public Act 100-0013 reduces barriers for educators while maintaining the high standards students deserve. We need to continue to think creatively about expanding opportunities for individuals who want to teach and expanding opportunities for current teachers so they feel valued for the incredible work they do and remain a part of our schools.”
Illinois’ teacher shortage affects every school district in unique ways. Milford Area Public Schools District 124 Superintendent Dr. Dale Hastings and Dr. Mike Curry, who was at the time superintendent of VIT Community Unit School District 2 and is now superintendent of Abingdon-Avon Community Unit School District #276, testified at the May 24 State Board of Education meeting about the specific ways the teacher shortage affects the students in their districts.
“Even one vacant position in our rural district puts our students at risk of not getting the instruction they need and falling behind,” said Hastings. “This licensure change will allow our rural Illinois school district to fill positions that are greatly needed. This licensure change demonstrates the willingness of ISBE and our legislative leaders to understand the needs facing school districts across the state and then be creative to solve the need.”
The Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents served as a critical partner in developing and advocating for the legislation.
"We know our schools need to fill many positions, and every hurdle in an educator’s way prevents schools from filling these positions and providing the best possible instructional environment for students,” said Mark Jontry, president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools. “We want to thank the Governor, legislators, and ISBE for working together to reduce the licensing hurdles while maintaining high standards to put more qualified, motivated, and talented educators in our schools to guide students in their education and their lives.”
Public Act 100-0013 makes a number of changes to the School Code, including:
- Lowers the minimum age for an individual to apply for an educator license to 19.
- Allows individuals who hold a valid CTE license to substitute teach CTE courses.
- Removes the 20-hour coursework requirement for individuals who want to renew a provisional CTE license.
- Provides statutory authority for the Director of Special Education endorsement.
- Applies the Administrator Academy requirement to maintain an active administrator license only to individuals who have worked in an administrative position within the past five years.
- Allows school psychologists to renew their Illinois licenses by providing proof of valid national licensure.
The new law took effect July 1, 2017.