SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Education Association (IEA)-initiated bill to repeal the 3 percent salary limit law passed out of the Senate Education Committee with a 13-0 vote this afternoon. Senate Bill 1952 (SB 1952) is now on its way to the Senate floor for a vote. The bill would repeal the law that shifts the state’s responsibility to pay for an educator’s pensionable earnings to local school districts, local property taxpayers and institutions of higher education for any salary increases above 3 percent beyond the teacher’s first five years of employment.
SB1952 is sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). In addition to the language that would repeal the 3 percent cap on pensionable salary for teachers and higher education faculty, it also introduces two other measures to try to help alleviate the teacher shortage. One, it allows school districts to provide a salary to a student teacher employed by the district and fix the amount of that salary. Two, it removes the requirement of the passage of a test of basic skills for obtaining certain educator licenses, with certain stipulations.
“We are so pleased lawmakers see how important this issue is – not just to educators and to solving the teacher shortage – but to our students. It’s imperative that students have teachers facilitating learning in every classroom, to ensure small enough class sizes for quality learning, that we retain the best educators to provide the best learning conditions and quality extracurricular opportunities for all our students,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “This step toward the repeal of the 3 percent cap is another move in a positive direction toward making that happen.”
During today’s Senate Education Committee hearing, lawmakers testified that they’d heard from countless IEA members about the 3 percent legislation and how harmful it’s been to the profession. IEA has been asking supporters to sign a petition in favor of this repeal. To date, more than 45,000 have done so.
“The salary cap is something I hear about regularly from constituents who work in education. It poses a challenge for recruiting and retaining qualified teachers, and it creates unnecessary competition among school districts that are vying for the same teaching candidates. We have to tear down barriers to putting teachers in classrooms, not create new ones,” Manar said.
The 3 percent law passed last summer as part of the Budget Implementation Bill. Since then, it has had a chilling effect on collective bargaining, further inhibiting the ability of educational institutions to attract and retain educators. The teaching profession is in the midst of a sustainability crisis, the effects of which are being felt by students and in classrooms across the state.
Districts, not wanting to assume the pension costs for any salary increase above 3 percent, are refusing to reward teachers who earn master’s degrees, obtain additional academic credentials, perform extracurricular duties such as directing plays or coaching teams, become Nationally Board Certified Teachers, and other enhancements that directly benefit students.
For more information on the effects of the 3 percent salary limitation, watch this video.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.