Springfield, IL - Illinois residents believe public schools are struggling and the state is on the wrong track, according to a new report from the Illinois Education Association. Their new data shows residents believe public schools are doing poorly and teachers are paid too little.
The information in their second annual State of Education Report comes from a poll of 1,000 adults conducted by Normington-Petts and We Ask America. Even though the state passed a law to increase the teacher minimum wage to $40,000 by 2023, IEA President Kathi Griffin says there is still a long way to go before the teacher shortage is fixed.
"A lot of our brand new teachers who are new to the craft of teaching, who want to do the best they can, end up having another job so they can make that college loan payment and make those bills to be paid," Griffin explained.
Griffin also says the evidence-based school funding model has to continue to be funded to help students across the state. The IEA is also supporting Gov. JB Pritzker's Fair Tax amendment to help communities better fund their local schools.
"Teachers should have the strongest voice in how schools are run."
According to the report, 83% of those polled rank high quality schools as a top priority over reducing crime, balancing the state budget and lowering taxes. Cleaning up corruption in state government was the only priority topping high quality schools at 85%. Griffin says residents overwhelmingly believe teachers should have the strongest voice in how schools are run.
"The public has seen the dedication of students through the Red for Ed movement and I think it is elevated nationally, but locally our parents love our teachers and love our schools because they know what we do for our kids," said Griffin.
Nearly 70% of those polled support the idea of erasing student loan debt for Illinois residents who went to college in Illinois and taught in public schools for at least 10 years. Griffin says 62% of the public believe a teacher should only have to work until they are 60 to receive their pension. Currently, Illinois teachers hired after 2011 have to work until they are 67 to get pension benefits.
More than 80% of the public believes school paraprofessionals and classroom aides should also be paid more, according to Griffin.
"We need career sustainability for all of our educators, including our support staff. Our paraprofessionals make, on average, $10 an hour. These paraprofessionals work with students who are physically, behaviorally and developmentally challenged. Our support staff play a powerful and important role in educating our students," Griffin added.