SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Diane Pappas, D-Itasca, helped secure fair salaries for teachers and address the Illinois teacher shortage by passing legislation increasing their wages over the coming years.
“Teachers fill some of the most important roles in our communities, and they should be paid well,” Pappas said. “Building a stronger Illinois starts with preparing a new generation of kids for higher education and the workforce. Illinois needs trained professionals to fill the gap of skilled workers in our state, and to do that, we need people committed to being lifelong educators.”
Pappas passed House Bill 2078, which sets minimum teacher salaries at $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year and gradually raises it by about $2,000 every year for four years. The last Illinois law guiding universal teacher pay was passed in 1980, and it set base salaries for teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 120 semester hours at just $10,000 a year.
A 2018 study by the Illinois State Board of Education found that over 500 of Illinois’ 898 school districts statewide started teachers with a bachelor’s degree at salaries less than $40,000, and 167 started them below $35,000. Low-starting salaries for teachers has led to rapid turnover, decreasing the quality of education and creating the teacher shortage Illinois now faces.
“Fair salaries don’t just draw more people towards a job; they keep them there,” Pappas said. “Teachers who have been doing their job for a long time build relationships with their communities and develop more effective lesson plans. These wage increases are just the first of many steps I plan to take to bolster Illinois’ education system.”