Klaisner says education system problems could last another two years (Southland Chicago, IL) – Mark A. Klaisner and other experts saw this coming before the COVID-19 pandemic hit education skies. However, one potential problem has escalated significantly due to the pandemic and had effects that could resonate beyond 2024.
“We started our conversations on this topic as early as 2015, and already then we saw the teacher shortage crisis on the horizon. The trend was in a negative direction where we saw fewer teachers coming out of colleges and more teachers leaving the profession. Then in 2020-2021, our trend became a cliff,” said Klaisner, Association of Regional Superintendents of Illinois Schools president and executive director of West40 ISC west of Chicago.
Association of Regional Superintendents of Illinois Schools
The Association of Regional Superintendents of Illinois Schools (IARSS), leaders of Regional Education Offices and Intermediate Service Centers in Illinois’ 102 counties, partnered with Goshen Education Consulting and Illinois for a fall 2021 survey of more than 660 school districts across the state on key issues regarding the depth and consequences of the Illinois teacher. shortage crisis. Highlights from the preview include a significant teacher shortage as well as the effects of COVID-19 on students and staff, causing disruptions and class cancellations. With no quick fixes available for such a significant problem, superintendents predicted that this wave of titles could last the next two full school years. Nearly 80 percent of school district superintendents responded to the survey.
“It’s important to us because we can tell it’s not just a few people. It’s really a snapshot of the whole state of Illinois,” said Klaisner. “The key things to highlight are that 88% of these superintendents say we have a serious teacher shortage problem and 77% said it’s getting worse every year.”
A worrying trend is that the issue permeates all aspects and professional levels of the education system.
“What we’re seeing this year that’s hugely different is that we have more than just teacher shortage. We see shortages of bus drivers, shortages of canteens, shortages of school crossing guards and shortages of paraprofessionals. We see administrators leaving the field and we see superintendents leaving. We see it even at the school board level where elected school board members are saying this is more than what I signed up for,” said Klaisner.
The teacher shortage is affecting families across Illinois who are scrambling to find daycare or transportation for their children. In the long term, this may result in the loss of learning opportunities and academic success when students take a statewide test in March. In the short term, remote learning and school day closures are the consequences.
“Every day, regional offices across the state hear districts say I don’t have enough staff to start school. We’ve heard these kinds of dilemmas in negotiations between Chicago and the CPS union, but we also hear about them at Marion, Rockford and Quincy. They say I don’t have enough bus drivers to get the kids to school and I don’t have enough teachers and staff to open the school safely,” Klaisner said.
While shortage issues are evident in all regions of Illinois, rural school districts are pointing to the biggest problems and the worst prospects ahead. The most severe shortage issues are in West Central and East Central Illinois – each region has more than 90% of schools reporting shortages. Shortages are also most extreme in unitary districts.
With COVID and distance learning, students have missed two to three years of basketball and football games, prom, the yearbook, after-school clubs, and other missing voids in their social experience.
“A common theme I hear is that students have missed out on the adventure of being in school,” Klaisner said. “Examples like parents saying my second grader left when they were in kindergarten so they haven’t had two years of what it means to be in school. My eighth grader left when he was in sixth grade and they forgot how to lock their lockers. Students have not had the opportunity to mature, collaborate and work with others. In addition to the school content, there is the whole school experience.
The question begins now: how do we move on and try to have some semblance of normality? He estimates that work should begin in the next two months.
“I think August starts in April. We need to start planning so we can offer workshops in the summer to empower and equip teachers. We know that children will come back slightly different. We see more and more discussions about trauma, students have been through difficult situations, and we know that mental health is a huge issue. The statistics are just staggering on suicide attempts, suicides and domestic violence and all of those factors are going to come back in the doors in August,” Klaisner said.
School districts in Illinois report that the teacher shortage problem has worsened since last year in virtually every major area:
- 88% of schools report having a problem with teacher shortages and 77% report that the shortage is getting worse
- 93% of districts expect the shortage to worsen in the 2023 and 2024 academic years
- More than 2,000 positions are unfilled or are being filled by someone not qualified to teach there, more than double the number reported from the last school year
- 96% of schools report a shortage of substitute teachers
- More than 400 classes have been canceled, and almost as many have been sent online because schools simply had no one to teach them in person.
- Although administrator shortages are much less severe, schools are reporting they are having more difficulty finding qualified candidates amid retirements and are increasingly concerned that these difficulties will worsen over time. .
Klaisner says education system problems could last another two years