SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation simplifying the state’s teacher incentive scholarship programs to entice more quality teachers to Illinois classrooms.
HB 4912 is a result of the Education Summit held by Governor Ryan last fall to highlight the dual concerns of educator supply and quality in the state's schools. This legislation changes the current teacher-shortage incentive program, expands the current minority incentive program, makes incoming college freshmen eligible for scholarships and changes the current incentive program for special education teachers.
"Improving the quality of education in our schools is extremely important, and to do this we must have quality teachers in the classrooms," Ryan said. "By enhancing this program and making it more identifiable to future teachers, we can do a better job of recruiting the brightest students into the teaching profession."
The name of the program to recruit students into pre-qualified teacher-shortage areas has been changed from the David A. DeBolt Teacher Shortage program to the ITEACH Teacher Shortage Program in an effort to make it more recognizable to students. Further, HB 4912 amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to allow money in the Illinois Future Teacher Corps Scholarship Fund to be appropriated for ITEACH Teacher Shortage scholarships.
The ITEACH program provides $5000 scholarships to students seeking their
degrees in subject-shortage areas. Last year, approximately 550 scholarships were awarded, totaling $2,750,000.
The state's Minority Teacher Incentive (MTI) program has also been changed. In an effort to recruit more minorities into the teaching profession, eligibility for scholarships has been expanded. Now, minority students enrolled at least half-time can still apply, as can those seeking a graduate degree in teaching.
In addition, the guidelines for MTI allocations have been amended. HB 4912 allows the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to award female minority students with additional MTI scholarships if the agency does not receive enough applications from qualified male minorities to award the full 30 percent of the total appropriations allotted. Currently, not enough qualified males apply for the program, and money that could be awarded to qualified females has gone unspent.
The MTI program also awards scholarships in $5000 increments. Last year, approximately 570 scholarships were awarded, totaling $2,850,000.
Illinois' Special Education Teacher incentive program has also been amended. Adults seeking alternative teacher certification may now apply.
With HB 4912, recipients must begin teaching within one year after graduation, or all scholarship money must be repaid. Some exceptions include the student entering the Armed Forces (for a term not longer than three years), entering graduate school, and actively seeking but unable to find employment as a teacher in an Illinois school.
HB 4912 was sponsored by Representative David Wirsing (R-Sycamore) and Senators Dan Cronin (R- Elmhurst), Bill Shaw (D- Chicago) and Kimberly Lightford (D- Maywood).