Sen. Fowler backs legislation to reinstate teacher salary thresh - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Sen. Fowler backs legislation to reinstate teacher salary threshold

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WSIL -- Southern Illinois' state senators are co-sponsoring legislation to work toward ending the state's widespread teacher shortage.

Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, said there are 3,000 unfilled teaching positions in the state of Illinois. That data comes from the Illinois Education Association.

SB1952 would repeal a three percent salary threshold for Illinois teachers. Teachers are given raises based on a certain percentage of their salary. The bill would reinstate the original six percent salary threshold. 

"We have to do everything we can to try and alleviate and put a stop to this teacher shortage; this crisis that we have because those numbers are going to continue to increase," said Fowler.

SB1952 would also:

  • Lessen the required scores needed for standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. Teachers also have to take a basic skills test through the Illinois Licensure Testing System. 
  • Allocate state budget revenue to pay student teachers while they're enrolled in public universities.

Fowler believes people won't pursue teaching degrees if they're underpaid while in student debt.

"We have student teachers but we don't have enough. We not only need to recruit good, qualified students to become teachers, we also need to incentivize them as they're going through the student teacher process," said Fowler. 

Fowler co-sponsored legislation to give teachers a minimum $40,000 salary. Former Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed that bill last year.

"Our schools are receiving more funds than they have in the last several years. I know Governor Pritzker wants to increase school funding. Hopefully we'll be able to direct these funds appropriately within our school districts," said Fowler.

The Senate passed SB1952 this week, proposed by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill. Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, is also a co-sponsor. 

Fowler said the bill will go to the House next week.

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