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Loosened Illinois licensing rules could help Metro East schools find full-time, substitute teachers

School Illustration
File | Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio

Officials in Metro East K-12 school districts say they have teacher shortages in some subject areas. But new teacher licensing rules that went into effect July 1 may help.

One of the changes allows teachers who are licensed in one content area to receive emergency approval to teach another subject after passing a test. Previously, they had to have college credit in that subject.

That allows a sixth- or eighth-grade math teacher to apply for a job teaching science, St. Clair County Regional Superintendent Susan Sarfaty said.

“Under the old way that’s still in effect, you had to have nine hours of science, but you also had to be enrolled at a university getting more science hours so you’d have the requirement for that endorsement in middle school, which is 18,” Sarfaty said.

Some St. Clair County districts have cut back on how many teachers they hire due to budget constraints, but area schools still have to fill essential teaching positions, which is why she said the new requirements can be beneficial.

“At some of our smaller high schools, for example, there may be only one person at the high school who teaches all of the math. So if that math teacher retires you have to replace that math teacher,” Sarfaty said.

Substitute teachers for career and technical classes like welding don’t have to have bachelor’s degrees anymore, instead qualifying through work experience.

“(Anybody who has) an associate’s degree or 64 hours of college, and they’ve got 2,000 hours of work experience, they could qualify to be one of these teachers,” Madison County Regional Superintendent Bob Daiber said.

Daiber, who is a Democratic candidate for governor also pointed out that the change is the same as what’s needed to qualify for a temporary career and technical teaching license, known as a CTE certificate. Renewing a CTE certificate is easier under the new law, too, as the 20 college-credit hours requirement has been lifted.

Daiber said the most critical need in Madison County is for substitute teachers.

“We just do not have enough. And we also have a real need for career and technical teachers,” Daiber said. “We have several openings this year that we’re having a difficult time finding qualified applicants (for).”

When schools can’t find substitutes, they have to ask teachers to step in during their lunch and planning periods.

“Right now we fulfill in-house, that’s what has to happen. So if you can’t get a substitute teacher for a whole day, someone who’s teaching first hour that has a prep another hour covers,” Daiber said. “Day after day it affects the structure.”

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille

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