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WSIU's Brad Palmer talks with Natalie Fry, the principal and curriculum coordinator at Harrisburg East Side Intermediate School, about distance learning and the uncertainty for schools in the fall.

In an attempt to relieve Illinois' severe teacher shortage, state lawmakers last year voted to remove a requirement known as the "basic skills test." That test has proven to be a stumbling block, especially for people pursuing the profession later in life, as a second career. This change, enacted just five months ago, has already opened the door for a would-be special education teacher in the East Moline School District. 

The legislative session that wrapped up a few days ago was dominated by debates over weighty topics like preserving abortion rights, legalizing recreational cannabis sales, and changing the income tax structure of the state.

But out of the spotlight, some comparatively smaller changes were considered for the public education system.

While Illinois is struggling with a teacher shortage, some potential teachers are finding barriers to getting a license. Our education reporter Dusty Rhodes introduces us to one of those aspiring teachers.

 

 The Illinois State Board of Education this week hosted a conversation on possible solutions to the state’s teacher shortage. We discussed the highlights on Statewide.

The Illinois State Board of Education used their monthly meeting Wednesday to host a conversation on possible solutions to the state’s worsening teacher shortage. The board is looking for ways to maintain high quality standards without discouraging potential teachers from entering the profession.

 

Afterwards, the agency’s chief education officer, Ralph Grimm, said there is no single solution.

 

“Two and a half hours of testimony I think really reinforced to the board how deep and structural the teacher shortage issue really is across the state, that its effects are felt differently in different parts of the state, but all over the state,” he said.

Eastern Illinois University has launched a program that encourages students training to be teachers to consider looking for employment in rural communities.

Doug Bower, dean of education at Eastern Illinois, says the program is called Teacher Corps.

Illinois lawmakers have proposed a variety of plans to tackle the state's severe teacher shortage. This week, State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), bundled three popular concepts into one bill.​

"These are three things that I hear almost in complete unison from teachers across the state, in small rural districts to larger districts, that in different ways impact the profession,” he told the Senate education committee.

Those three things:

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

A significant number of students have a lot more than academics on their mind during the school day.

Thursday, nearly 50 educators from southern Illinois attended Day 1 of a two-day training to learn more about Adverse Childhood Experiences - or ACEs.

Experts Explore Reasons, Solutions for Teacher Shortage

Sep 5, 2018

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a slew of legislation this month intended to alleviate Illinois’s teacher shortage. But some teachers and union leaders doubt the measures are enough. Illinois Newsroom’s Lee Gaines spoke with Linda Darling-Hammond to find out what legislative fixes actually work.

Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law several bills last week -- that proponents claim will reduce the state’s teacher shortage.

The state’s largest teachers union - the Illinois Education Association - says the legislation doesn’t do enough to solve the problem.

What Will It Take To Fix Illinois' Teacher Shortage?

Jun 27, 2018
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Lee V. Gaines/Illinois Newsroom

Chuck Bleyer is worried the southern Illinois school district he heads won’t be able to fill an open teacher position by the time classes start this fall.

A new report shows the statewide teacher shortage is felt most acutely in districts with lots of low-income students. But it's also hitting rural and wealthier districts.

When the Illinois General Assembly approved a budget last summer . . . they also agreed to cut back on the state's contribution to the pension systems.  But, this move might have unintended consequences.