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Illinois Educators Applaud Teacher Pay Raise

The minimum wage for Illinois teachers was raised from $10,000 to $40,000. (tadamichi/Adobe Stock)
The minimum wage for Illinois teachers was raised from $10,000 to $40,000. (tadamichi/Adobe Stock)
August 23, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Teachers in Illinois are applauding a new law that could boost their bottom line. A bill signed on Thursday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker raises the minimum salary for teachers in the state to $40,000, up from $10,000.

As a second-year teacher at the Crossroads Learning Center in the Jacksonville District, Bentley Stewart currently earns $34,000. She says teachers need to feel more secure and valued in their profession.

"It's hard to be a teacher, it's emotionally trying and it's very demanding,” says Stewart. “This is a good first step and teachers can see that they are appreciated, which is amazing."

The minimum salary change will be phased in over four years, and will then rise based on the Consumer Price Index.

The new law is intended to help address the state's teacher shortage. Last year more than 1,500 positions went unfilled.

The Illinois Education Association advocated for the minimum-wage increase, which Media Relations Director Bridget Shanahan says should help attract and retain qualified teachers.

"We are losing people and we're having a hard time convincing people that this is a good profession to go into,” says Shanahan. “There's research out there that shows for the first time ever parents are telling their kids not to be teachers and that's alarming and it should really make folks think about the state of public education."

Shanahan notes the association's State of Education poll released this year revealed most Illinoisans have a positive view of public school teachers, and more than half believe teachers are paid too little.

"The two words most closely associated with teachers in Illinois are underpaid and undervalued,” says Shanahan. “That has to change. We hope that we can continue moving forward and making the teaching profession a more attractive career."

According to the National Education Association, the average public school teacher salary here is about $66,000, slightly higher than the national average of roughly $62,000.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL