December 6, 2017

Bill would let student teachers fill substitute gap

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

With much of Illinois facing a substitute teacher shortage, a state lawmaker wants to give college students a chance to get into classrooms sooner.

According to the state Board of Education, one in four teachers in Illinois missed more than 10 days of class last year. With the pool of substitute teachers to fill their spots continually getting thinner, a bill filed by state Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, would allow education undergraduates to fill that position.

"Theyíre already in the field so itís not like we would be decreasing the standard for substitute teachers," Parkhurst said.

Students would need to have accumulated 90 college credit hours before they could step foot into the classroom. Currently, Illinois requires a substitute to have at least a bachelor's degree. The change would not only help the districts scrambling for substitutes, but it would give these undergraduates the opportunity to be paid for further in-classroom experience, and even make inroads with a desired district.

Parkhurst said the stateís regulations are making the shortage worse.

"Thereís a lot of regulations for testing and certification," she said. "Itís affecting schools, teachers and students."

The legislation is modeled after Michiganís recent changes to its standards for substitute teachers.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law this year that would lighten the burden of potential substitute teachers in Illinois. The law reduced the licensing fee by $50, removes an additional written skills test, and allows teachers that have received their licences elsewhere to be further considered.