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Illinois faces 'huge shortage' of teachers, other academic professionals ahead of the school year

Illinois faces 'huge shortage' of teachers, other professionals ahead of the school year
Illinois faces 'huge shortage' of teachers, other professionals ahead of the school year 02:24

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The final two weeks of summer break is upon us for Chicago Public School students.

As they eek out the last bit of summer fun, those in charge of running the schools are racing to fill positions. CBS 2's Chris Tye reports on the shortage of educators statewide, despite efforts to get more applicants interested.

Remember last fall, districts were so short on staff in places like Evanston and Skokie, they had to extend Thanksgiving break because subs were at a premium?

Since then, the number of open positions in Illinois schools has jumped 28%. 

"I think what's dissuading people from getting into the profession is that you have so much negativity that is out there about education, when in fact, it is one of the most amazing professions there is," Kathi Griffin, President of the Illinois Education Association.

Help Wanted: Teachers, other academic professionals ahead of the school year 02:41


Four months ago, Governor JB Pritzker signed a series of bills addressing teacher shortages to lure in applicants. Teacher License Renewals dropped $500 to $50. Subs can now teach 15 days in a row when it used to be five. A Bachelor's degree is no longer required. Now you can teach with 90 Hours of college education.

Soon the minimum age for paraprofessionals will drop from 19 to 18.

And despite all of that, the problem of school-house shortage is worsening. There are 5,301 open spots according to the Illinois State Board of Education. One-fifth of those openings are in Chicago, but suburbs like Waukegan, Plainfield and DeKalb also need workers badly.

"The secretaries, the paraprofessionals, the custodians, the bus drivers, we have a huge shortage there as well," said Griffin.

Those in most demand? Paraprofessionals by a large margin, then those in teaching, school support personnel and administrative jobs.

"A lot of our support professionals are leaving education because they're not even making $15 an hour because we have to gradually get that they can go to Amazon or McDonald's and make $21 an hour," Griffin said.

The IEA president also cites fundamental disrespect of educators as a reason people aren't flocking to the profession, made even  harder by the pandemic.

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