Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs House Bill 2078, teacher's minimum salary Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019 at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

SPRINGFIELD — Today, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the $40,000 minimum teacher salary bill, 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.

Before now, the state school code set 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.

“This $40,000 minimum salary legislation sends a message to future teachers that they are valued and respected in Illinois,” said Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association, which pushed the bill to help alleviate the teacher shortage. “This step is critical as we face growing teacher shortages and will allow us to attract and retain the very best teachers for our children. On behalf of the 135,000 members of the Illinois Education Association and their students, I thank Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly for their leadership.”

“This new law says to parents and students loud and clear, we value teachers,” Gov. Pritzker said. He noted that $350 million in new education funding this year, the teacher shortage — more than 4,000 open positions in schools last year including more than 1,100 teaching positions — saying students will benefit with smaller class sizes and more classes. “They will learn better and do better.”

Bentley Stewart is a second year teacher at Crossroads Learning Center in Jacksonville District #117, teaching K-12 expelled and suspended students and she also is a graduate of the Jacksonville district, currently making about $34,000. This bill is great news for her and other current and future teachers.

“Educators go into this field because we’re passionate about it. We make connections with students. We care about them and we want them to succeed. It’s a hard job and we don’t mind that. But, we also want to be secure in knowing we’ll be able to raise our own families and that our families will be secure and this goes a long way toward that. I’m thankful that our legislators, the governor and the IEA have recognized this and by passing this measure, told us we’re valuable.”

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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employees’ organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.