The national teacher shortage has been getting worse for more than a decade due to a general staff shortage. Areas close to panic level. Classes are prepared by administrators and volunteers. An entire generation is deprived of a good education.
This is not a new problem. In the early 1950s, a similar problem arose during the continuing baby boom in the aftermath of World War II. Some states have floated the idea of attracting young people to be financially motivated teachers. Like millions of others in Illinois and several other states, scholarships have been awarded to eligible students.
In Illinois, the scholarship was to attend one of the five teachers’ universities. I made my way to Illinois Regular State University with a full scholarship including all fees paid and textbook rentals. In 1954, my scholarship amounted to $150 per year. Fees include all lab fees, sporting events, and more. So I agreed to teach for at least two years in Illinois public schools. After teaching in high school and higher education for 40 years, I retired feeling good about my career.
Representative Sue Shearer proposed a similar plan for Illinois. It’s time to tackle an old problem with a solution that worked before. Just like in the 1950s, free scholarships will go a long way to fill today’s empty classrooms. The solution in the 1950s was more than that. The state offered a pension and health plan that encouraged scholarship recipients to remain in teaching and to remain in Illinois. What do teachers want today? good pension? higher salary? health benefit? respect? I don’t know what more would attract today’s youth to teaching. One thing is for sure. Scholarships with free tuition fees will help a lot!
George E. Tuttle, Bloomington