Three lawmakers stood on the steps of the Illinois Education Association headquarters building Wednesday to renew a push for a $40,000 minimum salary for teachers in the state and to draw a direct correlation between salary and the teacher shortage.
State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), along with Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), and interim executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois, held the press conference to tout the importance of the passage of the minimum salary bill that passed both houses of the state legislature last spring, but which Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed.
“I’m dedicated to a public education system that treats every child fairly,” said Manar, who plans to push for an override of Rauner’s veto.
“Bruce Rauner failed students, and he failed teachers when he vetoed a $40,000 minimum salary for teachers. The teaching shortage in Illinois disproportionately affects districts like mine – it’s resulting in vacant classrooms, fewer opportunities, and children being left behind. With this veto, Bruce Rauner is merely protecting the status quo. Districts like mine aren’t going to get better without bold steps, and that’s why I’m going to do everything I can to override his veto.”
Scherer, who was a teacher for 30 years, noted that $40,000 is a bare minimum when you’re paying for supplies out of pocket, working long hours and meeting stringent requirements put on you by law.
“We’re facing a historic teacher shortage across our state, and it’s time to show that we respect our teachers, not ask them to teach with one hand tied behind their back.”
Mitchell added that Rauner deserves an “F” for the way he’s treated public education in Illinois for many reasons, including the fact that he held the state budget hostage and that he divided the state, pitting the Chicago area against downstate if he was north and downstate against Chicago if he was south.
“He likes to say education funding reform is his proudest accomplishment but continues to take credit for the hard work of others. I’m proud to stand with JB Pritzker, who is ready to build a system where every child has a chance to succeed, no matter their income, zip code, or the color of their skin,” Mitchell said.
Connie Charlesworth is a retired teacher who believes youth are no longer going into teaching because they can do the math – they can figure out the cost of a degree, how much teaching pays – and they aren’t going to be able to make ends meet.
“When Bruce Rauner vetoes a $40,000 minimum salary, he’s showing us exactly how much he values me and my colleagues,” Charlesworth said. “The governor failed me and failed my colleagues with his attacks on public education.”
Manar added that Rauner is doing one of two things: he either doesn’t understand the issue or he’s trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.
“The governor referenced a statewide salary schedule in his veto message. There isn’t one. So this is an attempt to use the tricks that we’ve been used to for four years to try to stop good public policy in the state.”