SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Diane Pappas, D-Itasca, is combatting the statewide teacher shortage by ensuring Illinois’ educators are paid fairly for their work.
“Teachers contribute so much to our society and to our kids’ lives; they deserve fair compensation for all the good work they do,” Pappas said. “They have devoted their careers to nurturing and guiding the next generation of Illinoisans through critical parts of their lives, and they shouldn’t be living paycheck to paycheck. This law will give many teachers the much-needed financial relief they have more than earned.”
Pappas helped pass 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. Pappas’s legislation received strong bipartisan support and is now law.
Illinois is currently tenth in the country in average statewide teacher pay; however, that figure is skewed by inconsistent salaries throughout the state. 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.
“An investment in teachers is an investment in the next generation as well,” Pappas said. “Putting money towards giving our children a quality education that prepares them for high-skilled, high-wage jobs will not just help Illinois kids now, it will bolster our economy for long-term growth and build a stronger Illinois.”