SPRINGFIELD — A bill touting three solutions to help address Illinois’ teacher shortage passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.
The first would reinstate a 6 percent cap for teacher salary increases to be paid by the state. The current cap is 3 percent, lowered from 6 percent in the previous General Assembly.
The second would allow student teachers to be paid.
The third and most significant of the changes, according to the bill’s sponsor, would get rid of the basic skills test that some groups say is an unnecessary obstacle to gaining teacher qualification.
“Teaching is an art and a science, and not accurately measured by a standardized test,” said Aviva Bowen, spokesperson for the Illinois Federation of Teachers union.
Bowen added that there are plenty of other tests, including those on the specific material they will teach, that Illinois teachers must pass to get their license.
Mark Jontry, president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents, added concerns that the test puts Illinois teachers at an unfair advantage, because out-of-state teachers who are already licensed do not need to take it to teach in Illinois.
Both organizations support Senate Bill 1952, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Andy Maner of Bunker Hill. The bill goes to the Senate, where lawmakers can add amendments.