Manar renews push for $40k teacher minimum salary
Senate committee advances bill after veto last year by Gov. Rauner
By Ted Cox
A push to raise the minimum salary for teachers is on the move again in the General Assembly.
State Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, who led the fight to reform the state education funding formula for public schools, has resubmitted a bill to raise the minimum state teacher salary to $40,000 after former Gov. Rauner vetoed it last year.
The bill cleared a Senate committee last week, with Manar arguing that the state’s current minimum salary of $10,000, established in 1980, only encourages a teacher shortage.
“This is where the rubber meets the road,” Manar said before the committee last week. “Do we want to attract talented young teachers to Illinois, or do we want to watch them put down professional roots in other states?
“A $10,000 minimum wage set in statute absolutely sends the wrong message about the value we place on the teaching profession in Illinois,” he added.
According to Manar’s office, the minimum salary is actually $9,000 for teachers without a bachelor’s degree. “Based on decades of inflation, the minimum mandated salary today should be about $32,000,” and “a living minimum wage” of $40,000 “could attract more young people to the profession by sending a message that their work is valued.”
Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association, endorsed it Monday, saying it’s exactly what they’ve been hearing from aspiring teachers. “We just did some focus groups with high-school and college students to talk with them about what inspires them about becoming teachers and what prevents them from choosing teaching as a career,” she said, “and overwhelmingly, they say it’s the salary — the salary is not worth all the preparation and all the public expectations of the career in their eyes.
“We know that teaching is incredibly rewarding,” Griffin added. “They know that, too, but they know it’s hard work and that it should be fairly compensated. We think this bill could help with the teacher shortage.”
If enacted into law, the bill would set the state minimum salary for teachers at just over $32,000 in the fall of 2020, and would raise it by annual incremental steps to $40,000 for the 2023-24 school year.
“This proposal acknowledges that, if we want the best and brightest young people to join the teaching ranks in Illinois, we have to give them some level of guarantee that they’re going to earn a decent wage and be able to support their families,” Manar said. “This update to state law is long, long overdue.”
Griffin earlier said she was “extremely disappointed but not surprised” by Rauner’s veto last August, adding that a $40,000 minimum wage “would have been the best way to combat the teacher shortage in Illinois,” and “by vetoing this bill, the governor is disrespecting every teacher, student and community in Illinois.”
Manar’s Senate Bill 10 cleared the Senate Education Committee by an overwhelming vote of 14-3 on Wednesday.