Teacher group says Illinois teachers, districts need more money

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The Illinois Education Association released its third annual State of Education report Tuesday, which called for more money for teachers and school districts even though the state already has among the highest paid teachers in the nation.

One thousand adults were polled by phone or online by Normington Petts for the report, including teachers.

Close to 70% of respondents either strongly agree or somewhat agree with a state law that sets the minimum teacher salary in Illinois at $40,000 a year.

According to Business Insider, Illinois teachers are the 12th highest paid in the country. The National Center for Education Statistics reported the average annual salary for teachers in Illinois in 2018-29 was $66,600. In neighboring Indiana, the average was $50,937. In Iowa, it was 58,140.

Many school administrators are making even more lucrative salaries. According to Patch.com, while more than 10,000 students in Joliet’s District 86 have not attended in-class learning since March 2020, a total of 44 administrators and support staff are making more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded pay during the current all-remote academic year.

IEA President Kathi Griffin said despite the fact many students have been out of the classroom, they are making progress.

“Students are learning,” she said “They might be learning a little bit differently, and they might be learning items and things that we didn’t think they would learn at this stage, but our kids have been learning.”

Macomb District 185 Superintendent Patrick Twomey believes there has been learning loss and the district will address the issue in the near future.

“Taking good measure, in other words taking good assessments of where the kids are right now, identifying where those gaps are at, and then addressing those gaps on an individual student basis,” Twomey said.

Griffin also took issue with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s lack of education spending in the state’s evidence-based funding formula.

“We need to make sure that we continue that funding,” Griffin said. “Last year that funding was stagnated and stayed at the same rate but it should be increasing every single year.”

In the poll, health and safety ranked as the top concern for public schools to address as the pandemic comes to an end. Other concerns ranked by Illinoisans include worsening student performance, lower standards for teachers entering the profession, and increased taxes to pay more to retain teachers.

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