New IL law reduces barriers for educators

ILLINOIS (KFVS) - A number of changes are underway for educators in the state of Illinois. Governor Rauner signed into law an act that addresses the critical shortage of educators in Illinois public schools.

Connie Sieveking works part time in the West Frankfort School district as a substitute teacher. She explained her first days in substituting.

"When I started this, I didn't know it was going to end up being my career…it wasn't the plan...once I was into it, I thought this is where I should have been all the time," Sieveking said.

She found her passion in teaching. She has been committed for 15 years, but she has to constantly put money into the job. $125 every five years for licensing and $55 for fingerprinting.

"That's a pretty big chunk of money for someone looking for part time work," she explained.

This is just one example of the hoops educators have to jump through to do their jobs.

According to the school districts in 2016, more than 1,000 teacher positions in the state of Illinois are unfilled.

Matt Donkin, the Superintendent of Schools, West Frankfort CUSD #168 explained the reason for this.

"What the state did a few years ago, was put so many rules or barriers in place we weren't getting the quantity or quality of educators that we would have like," Donkin said. "Instead of fixing the little problem, they took a sledge hammer to it and not they caused other affects."

At one point substitutes were required to take the same basic skills test as the full time teachers.

"That would have been another charge to take the test," Sieveking said.

So to address the shortage, the state is now 'doing away' with many of those barriers.

"We want to get as good as we can, but we also don't want to be restricting access of teacher so much based on a test or AN experience that we don't have people in the field teaching our kids," Donkin said.

"They need someone that really wants to be in that room and connect with the kids, because that's important,  not to the teacher but to the kids," Sieveking proclaimed.

This new law took effect July 1. The 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.

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