SPRINGFIELD, Ill — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed new laws on Wednesday to address the nationwide teacher shortage. The governor said the new bills simplify the licensing process for educators, lower licensing fees and create more opportunities for prospective educators in the state.
Here's what each new law entails:
House Bill 4246: Fees for renewing an expired educator license will be reduced from $500 to $50 — effective immediately.
House Bill 4798: Allows currently enrolled teaching students to receive extra classroom training by giving them the option to obtain a substitute teaching license if they have completed 90 credit hours —effective Jan. 1, 2023.
Senate Bill 3988: Lowers minimum age requirement from 19 to 18 to provide prospective educators with an earlier opportunity to begin their careers — effective Jan. 1, 2023.
Senate Bill 3907: In the event of a disaster declaration, the number of days for short-term substitute teachers increased from five to 15 — effective immediately.
Pritzker said the new initiatives build on a number of education-related moves such as raising the minimum wage for teachers to $40,000 per year, increasing funding by 120% for the Minority Teachers of Illinois scholarship program, a $200 million investment in early childhood education workforce development programs and increasing funding for teaching preparation programs.
"This is something we are overcoming and I'm very proud of the work that's been done," Pritzker said at Wednesday's press conference. "We are in a better place today and on a trajectory to really overcome this shortage."
Last week the Illinois State Board of Education announced an additional 5,000 teachers for the current academic year. It's the state's largest in the last five years combined, according to Pritzker.