Illinois teacher shortage? We warned you.

Millionaire heiress Robin Steans shares a panel with Rahm Emanuel at Schurz High School on September 9, 2011, touting corporate “school reform.” Picture: Substance

Over dinner the other night a teacher friend asked if I knew of a P.E. teacher who was looking for a position. Her Chicago school doesn’t have one and can’t find one.

A story this week on WBEZ: 

More than 1,400 teaching positions went vacant last school year, half of them in bilingual or special education. Forty percent of all vacancies were in Chicago Public Schools, but rural downstate districts also struggled to find teachers, according to a new report by the Illinois State Board of Education.

This was all so predictable.

In fact we did predict it.

Combine falling competitive compensation, phony teacher accountability measures that evaluate teachers on how well their individual students perform on a high-stakes test and blaming teacher unions for everything under the sun and this is what you get.

And the hand wringing and crocodile tears over the failure to recruit teachers of color?

Those like Robin Steans of Advance Illinois, refuse to accept reality.

Steans rejects the idea that raising teacher standards must come at the cost of diversity. She says colleges of education should do more to recruit talented minorities.

“Raising teacher standards,” has been an empty catch phrase, created by corporate reformers and school privatizers to go after pubic education, neighborhood schools and teacher unions.

Illinois (and, amazingly, the state teacher unions too) caved to this nonsense when it passed the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) and weakened tenure and seniority rights.

How can you expect to successfully recruit teachers when you offer so little in the way of salary, professional respect and voice and then take away any fairness in the way of job protection?

The Illinois legislature passed the Act, drafted by IEA Executive Director Audrey Soglin, after Secretary of Education Arne Duncan demanded it in exchange for his disastrous Race to the Top.

The Illinois State Board of Education, with funding from corporate foundations like the Joyce Foundation, have come up with a plan to stop the teacher shortage crisis.

Read the recommendations and it is just more of the same old same old.

As for the failure to place teachers of color in front of students of color? There is a total lack of urgency coming from the state board, reflecting the lack of urgency from those like Steans.


5 thoughts on “Illinois teacher shortage? We warned you.

  1. Fred,
    As usual it’s an “all about me” moment. This is what happens when the economy is humming along. If you haven’t noticed there are “help wanted” signs everywhere, nobody can find help. This is good Fred, for everyone.
    Illinois has problems much bigger than a lack of teachers, it will be a lack of residents, with an excess of teachers, before to long.
    I predict it!!!!!

  2. Thought you might like to know: Louisville, KY schools (100K students) are recruiting in Puerto Rico to fill the many vacancies in this system. Also, enrollments in KY Ed schools are down 10-15%.

  3. In communication I had with a lay person yesterday, she mentioned that “education is no longer a priority in this country”. I think that simply states the problem.

    Our leaders and their band of thieving cronies seem to place more priorities in funding the on-going (and creating new) wars in countries where we might be able to hijack their oil deposits……all in the name of democracy, of course.

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