Why Illinois' Teacher Shortage Is No Mystery

When my oldest son began attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 2010, I told my newspaper coworkers that I would stage a standoff with the Illinois National Guard at the entrance to Gregory Hall -- home of the school's journalism department -- should he attempt to major in journalism.

I was joking. I believed then and still believe that journalism is a worthy academic and career pursuit. But it can't be denied that the newspaper industry's well-publicized struggles in recent years have made journalism a far less enticing career choice than when I chose it in the mid-'80s.

I thought about my George Wallace-esque quip about journalism as I skimmed the results of a survey titled "Illinois Educator Shortage Crisis" commissioned by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.

Among its findings:

  • 60 percent of school districts surveyed reported difficulty finding qualified applicants to fill vacancies
  • 16 percent of respondents said they had canceled classes or programs due to the shortage of teachers
  • 76 percent said they had fewer qualified candidates applying for openings in their districts
  • 43 percent said the quality of applicants for openings this year was worse than in previous years

Meanwhile, the college entrance exam company ACT, Inc., released a report last April that showed a steady decline nationally in the percentage of students who intend to pursue education majors in college:

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None of this should surprise anyone who has followed Illinois education funding in recent years. For years, school districts have lived year to year wondering how much state funding they'll get and how late it will arrive...

You can read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

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