Teachers to guv: Forget anything?

IEA cheers Rauner as he signs education bills, but seeks $40k minimum salary to address teacher shortage

Gov. Bruce Rauner signs a bill into law earlier this summer. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Gov. Bruce Rauner signs a bill into law earlier this summer. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed bills into law last weekend meant to address the state's teacher shortage.

But according to the Illinois Education Association, he left out one key piece of legislation that would do more than any other to add teachers statewide by guaranteeing them a minimum salary of $40,000.

Celebrating Kids' Day at the State Fair in Springfield on Saturday, Rauner signed bills his administration said would "address Illinois's teacher shortage, cut red tape for educators, and provide military spouses with more teaching opportunities."

"This legislation represents true bipartisan collaboration to improve our education system for children, teachers, and families across Illinois,” Rauner said. “We want our teachers focused on enriching, challenging, and encouraging the minds of our youth, not licensing paperwork. These bills cut red tape without lowering our expectations for quality instructors."

The administration cited a 2017 Teacher Shortage Survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools which found that 78 percent of state school districts had "either a minor or serious problem with teacher shortages," with more than half indicating "a serious problem" with maintaining an adequate pool of substitute teachers.

The IEA applauded the signings, especially Rauner's enacting a measure the statewide teacher union initiated which would allow stressed school districts to use outside agencies to recruit teachers. But it called Rauner's action an "education charade" in that it left out a bill passed by the General Assembly that would guarantee teachers a minimum salary of $40,000.

IEA President Kathi Griffin said Monday that, of the bills signed last weekend, only the one allowing outside recruiters would really address the teacher shortage.

"These bills fall short of what will really encourage more teachers to join the profession, and that’s being fairly compensated for the great work they do," Griffin said. "Once again, we find the governor promoting himself as a 'friend to education' but not addressing the real issue — the $40,000 minimum teacher salary bill. We find it curious that there was no mention of this bill during the governor’s education charade at the Illinois State Fair."

According to the IEA, Rauner has two weeks to make a decision on whether to sign the minimum-salary bill into law.

Ted Cox