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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 2001

Governor's Summit on Education to Examine Shortage and Quality of Teachers

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois education leaders, policy-makers, legislators, business, labor and civic leaders from around the state will come together for the first time in nearly 20 years on November 19, 2001 to address critical teacher quality and shortages that have become the cornerstone of the education challenges facing Illinois and the United States.

The Summit will focus on four areas of concern regarding the supply and quality of educators in Illinois schools: educator recruitment, preparation, retention and continuing professional development.

"Illinois needs to strengthen our ability to secure, retain and support enough quality teachers to serve the needs of our 2 million school children throughout the state," said Governor Ryan. "Improving the quality and the appropriate supply of teachers for the state's classrooms is a top priority of the Summit."

Delegates to the Governor's Summit on Education will examine many factors contributing to teacher shortages. The summit will examine problems from recruitment and preparation to working conditions, salary and professional development. Years of research on student achievement and teacher quality reveal a high correlation between well-prepared, well-supported teachers and sustained improvements in student learning.

A significant problem in Illinois is an inadequate teacher force. Nearly 2,600 positions went unfilled in the 2000-2001 school year. Another concern stems from the low interest among high school students in pursuing teaching as a career. Of 114,000 high school juniors taking the Prairie State Achievement Examination only 7% or, about 8,000, indicated an interest in teaching as a profession and only 3% or, about 3,400, expressed any real desire to teach.

Another issue facing the recruitment of teachers lies in the under-representation of minority educators. Minority teachers, for instance, formed 15% of the teaching force compared to a minority student population of 39%. Minorities formed 19% of the principals in Illinois public schools and only 3% of the superintendents.

Among the issues facing recruitment include the aging staff and unfilled teacher positions in the Illinois public school system. The average age of teachers in 2000 was 44 years and nearly 40% were at least 50 years old. On average, principals were 50 years old and superintendents were 53 years old. Sixty percent of the principals and 80% of superintendents were at least 50 years old.

Delegates will be reviewing educator recruitment and offering recommendations to help develop a legislative agenda for the spring 2002 session.


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