NORMAL (Illinois News Network) — The shortage of teachers in Illinois’ high schools and elementary schools has its roots in the state’s colleges and universities.
The evidence of Illinois’ teacher shortage is all around. A recent report said schools needed 2,000 teachers at the start of this year, and 16 percent of schools had to cancel something last year because they didn’t have enough teachers.
Troy Hinkel, the associate director of the Cecilia J. Lauby Teacher Education Center at Illinois State University, said the state’s teacher shortage absolutely starts in college.
“What you’re seeing is a lot of students going through school, wondering, ‘Why am I going to four, four-and-a-half years of college to make $30,000 a year?'” Hinkel said.
Hinkel said it’s not just the starting teacher salary, but the skyrocketing cost of a college degree.
“Many students don’t have the financial background to be able to go to school without taking loans,” Hinkel said. “So I think that students have to evaluate, ‘What job will I be able to get when I get out of college, and will I be able to pay back that loan?'”
Tuition, room and board, and fees at Illinois State University cost about $28,000 a year.
Hinkel said Illinois’ bureaucratic hurdles and state requirements don’t make things any easier.
“Every student [who wants to be a teacher] has to pass a basic skills test, a content specific test, and also the education TPA. Which is the ‘are-you-prepared-to-be-a-teacher’ test,” Hinkel said. “A lot of other fields don’t have all of those regulation.”
Hunkel said ISU is seeing the state’s teacher shortage play out in real time. ISU’s student teacher enrollment is down from over 5,072 students in 2009, to 3,896 in 2016.
Written by Benjamin Yount. An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Yount reports on Illinois statewide issues for INN. Yount also hosts Watchdog Radio, a daily radio show on Cities 92.9 in Bloomington/Normal.
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