Lt. Governor Stratton visits University of Illinois to speak about teacher shortage

CHAMPAIGN — A small group of University of Illinois students met Monday with Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton about the K-12 teacher shortage.

Stratton spoke of the administration’s efforts to diversify the profession.

“Some of the students I’ve met on these campuses have said they’ve never had a teacher of color, or maybe they’ve only had one, and that’s a teacher. that inspired them to pursue an education,” Stratton said.

Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton: “Teachers of color improve outcomes for all students. Emily Hays/Illinois Public Media

Stratton pointed to research that shows black students are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college when they have a black teacher. She said teachers of color improve outcomes for students of all racial backgrounds.

The governor’s office has proposed to more than double state contributions to the Illinois Minority Teachers’ Scholarship, from $1.9 million this fiscal year to $4.2 million in the next. .

The MTI Scholarship supports minority students who are committed to teaching in districts with a high percentage of non-white students.

Students see an expensive route to a low-paying career

Left to right: University of Illinois junior Anna Ashton, junior Jade Merritt and Master of Education student Rashaad Young. Emily Hays/Illinois Public Media

Half a dozen students walked out of a classroom in Champaign after their encounter with Stratton.

For the three able to wait out Stratton’s interview, teachers’ salaries were top of mind.

“Teaching students is kind of like the equivalent of an internship in other majors, except in some internships you might get paid. You are not paid while the student teaches; you pay a college to do it,” junior Jade Merritt said.

Merritt says Illinois should encourage more students to become teachers by covering their tuition and housing.

Merritt and his two peers had not heard of the Illinois Minority Teachers’ Scholarship until they met Stratton.

“If it’s something the state really has [considers] a crown jewel, we don’t hear much about it,” Merritt said.

Merritt added that high schools should promote the scholarship.

Junior Anna Ashton said she learned from an early age that teaching was not a sustainable career.

“You hear these messages as early as middle school, sometimes even in elementary school, and all the way through high school — ‘Don’t become a teacher, you won’t get paid well,'” Ashton said.

Masters student Rashaad Young said salary is among his top priorities as he considers which districts to join.

“I’m going to have 1,000 hours of teaching in a classroom before I walk into the classroom [as a certified teacher]. If I already have that experience, I won’t settle for $35,000 or $40,000. I have too much experience to settle for that,” Young said.

Nearly 90% of Illinois superintendents surveyed believe their district is suffering from a teacher shortage, according to a recent study by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.

Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter @amihatt.

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