Illinois Education Association to Release Annual, Bi-Partisan State of Education Report

Poll shows Illinoisans are increasingly worried about the teacher and education employee shortages and support policies that could alleviate the shortages

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Education Association (IEA) will release its fifth annual IEA State of Education report today, the only bipartisan poll monitoring Illinoisans’ views on all aspects of public schools. The findings will be shared during a news conference on Zoom at 10 a.m.

The results show deep concern around the teacher and education employee shortages, and large support for changes that would help attract and retain educators. The data reveal Illinoisans deeply value public education and believe teaching is harder than ever before.

“We are continuing to struggle under the weight of a teacher, education employee and substitute teacher shortage. It is at a crisis level, and it is only making jobs in public education more difficult. Educators continue to work tirelessly with the goal of success, both academically and social/emotionally, for each of their students. The educator shortage has caused this goal to be difficult to attain as we continue to recover from the many issues the pandemic has caused,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said.

The data show that awareness of the teacher and education employee shortages is growing and so is concern. Among the 39 percent who are aware, 87 percent report they are worried about the educator shortage and among the 50 percent who are aware, 79 percent are worried about the education support staff shortage.

Illinoisans say they have several fears around the teacher and education support staff shortages:

  • 81 percent say students will end up performing worse
  • 79 percent believe standards may have to be lowered to allow more people into the profession
  • 74 percent say classrooms will get more crowded
  • 67 percent worry there will be a push to online learning

“Since we began asking about the teacher shortage a few years ago, we’ve seen a big shift in Illinoisans’ awareness of this crisis,” Griffin said. “This year a majority said they knew about the shortages for educators and support staff. On top of that, they are deeply concerned, worrying it could impact student performance and potentially lower standards at our schools. That’s why we need to continue to work together to make sure we are creating thoughtful solutions to address the widespread shortages we are seeing across the state.”

When it comes to fixing the crisis, Illinoisans support several policy changes that could help, including:

  • 65 percent support changes to the pension system to make it more fair for those hired after 2010
  • 67 percent support student loan forgiveness for educators
  • 71 percent support higher pay for adjunct professors

“The people of Illinois believe in the value of public education. In fact, it’s more important to them than reforming healthcare or balancing the budget,” Griffin said. “Everyone is working in more challenging conditions. Teachers, professors and support staff are burned out, not making enough money and don’t feel respected as educators. We need to make meaningful changes to put us back on the right track. There are a growing number of unfilled positions every year. It’s clear things are getting worse.”

The poll, conducted by Normington Petts and Next Generation Strategies, surveyed 1,000 Illinoisans January 19-24. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent with 95 percent confidence.

“This poll is the only honest look we have at public education in Illinois,” Normington Petts’s Jill Normington said. “We use the U.S. Census to inform our data and to make sure we are getting an accurate look at what the people of Illinois think about public education.”

“We work hard to make sure this poll is bipartisan, so our results are not influenced in any way,” Next Generation Strategies Pat Brady said.

For more information, including this year’s data on school boards and book bans, view the IEA State of Education page.


At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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