State senate investigates teacher shortage

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND)- The Decatur School District has 39 unfilled teacher positions, the district’s superintendent told the State Senate’s Education Committee at a hearing Monday.

Superintendent Paul Fregeau told the committee the district has hired a full-time recruiter to find new teachers, but he said many teachers from other states are deterred by Illinois’ teacher certification process.

“Once people find out the steps they have to take to get certified here … they choose not to come,” Fregeau told the senators. Fregeau said he filled out one form to move professionally from Illinois to Missouri, but he said moving from Missouri to Illinois took eight steps.

Fregeau also told the senators that his last district in Missouri often received 150 applications for jobs, while jobs in the Decatur district often receive two or three applications.

An Illinois State Board of Education representative told the senators ISBE is studying the teacher shortage this academic year.

“I’m looking for leadership from the State Board of Education … some (solutions) are right in front of us,” said Sen. Dale Ryder.

You can find a full accounting of unfilled teacher positions in Illinois here.

Senator Kimberly Lightford said many college students she encounters are not interested in education careers.

“We have lost the desire … to become teachers,” Lightford said. “I think we ought to do a better job marketing the profession.”

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