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Report Shows Illinois Schools Struggle to Find Special Education Teachers

Michelle Obama School of Technology and the ARTS
Michelle Obama School of Technology and the ARTS (Photo SD 163)
By Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News Network

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A new report on teacher shortages shows that Illinois and other states may need to focus recruiting efforts on specific types of teachers, rather than trying to entice all types.

Bellwether Education Partners analyzed 20 years of federal education reporting by states. Each year, the states would report what types of teachers were in short supply. In 95 percent of the reporting, Illinois schools experienced shortages of special education teachers. ESL, or English as a second language, teachers were the next most commonly-reported teacher shortage.

Kaitlin Pennington McVey, senior analyst with Bellwether, said there are other shortages that shouldn’t be discounted.

“Just because it was mentioned fewer times does not necessarily mean that it’s not as important,” she said.

She thinks teachers are generally underpaid but adds that in-demand teachers should be paid more to help with the shortage.

“Differential pay for the needs that you know you have as a state is often what states will look to and there is some research behind that to suggest that it’s an effective policy solution,” she said. “Raising the pay of every teacher does not help to fill specific needs.”

The report also suggested that states should remove barriers for teachers from other states to use their credentials locally, something that was done in Illinois last year.

Illinois lawmakers are working to pass legislation that would require a $40,000 minimum wage for all teachers in the state.