SPRINGFIELD – Today, the state legislature passed the $40,000 minimum teacher salary, ensuring no teacher in Illinois will be able to make less than that amount by 2025 and helping to strengthen the future of the profession.
Currently, the state school code sets the minimum salary for teachers in Illinois at $10,000 a year for those with a bachelor’s degree and $11,000 for those with a master’s degree. In addition, Illinois is in the midst of a teacher shortage and last year, more than 1,500 positions went unfilled and more than 2,000 went unfilled the year before.
Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Collinsville, is a former teacher and sponsored the bill in the House and Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, who pushed the revamp of school funding in Illinois, sponsored the Senate version.
In both, the increase would be phased in over five years, giving districts time to plan financially for the change. Similar legislation passed last year but was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“In our recently released State of Education in Illinois survey, we asked Illinoisans what words they most associated with teachers. The two most common words were underpaid and undervalued,” said Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association.
“This legislation shows that lawmakers recognize this. They can see that salary is one of the main factors that prevents people from going into the profession. There is a teacher shortage and it has a detrimental impact on our children, our state’s most important asset. This will help districts across the state attract and retain the best and brightest and that’s what best for students.”
Manar and Stuart said it’s important that educators feel valued.
“Teachers don’t go into the profession for the money, but they have to be able to earn a living. We can’t on one hand say that education is a priority in the state and on the other hand not be willing to pay for it. Investing in educators is investing in education and it benefits students,” Manar said.
“I was a teacher. I know how important it is that teachers feel valued, that teachers earn a decent living. A good teacher can make a huge impact on a student’s life. Every adult can point to a teacher who had influence on his or her life. It’s imperative that we continue to attract the best and brightest to this profession. This bill works toward that goal,” Stuart said.
An analysis of Illinois State Board of Education data shows that fewer than 8,000 of the state’s 130,000 teachers make less than $40,000. Illinois could bring all of the teachers currently being paid less than $40,000 up to the $40,000 mark this year and only use 10 percent of the evidence-based funding formula dollars. However, the bill does not make that proposition, instead phasing it in over five years. And, the new evidence-based funding formula is designed to funnel money to the school districts with the most need, helping to ensure every district can meet its financial obligations.
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.