SPRINGFIELD – Illinois now has new laws on the books to help battle the substitute teacher shortage, thanks to Senator Michael E. Hastings.

Hastings (D-Frankfort) supported measures that were signed into law Wednesday that makes it easier for qualified individuals to serve as substitute teachers.

“Our educators offer guidance and dedicate their lives to our children,” Hastings said. “These new laws help our substitute teachers serve as a lifeline when their usual teacher is absent. Putting an end to this shortage, will not only help our students but help lighten the workload for fellow educators who may have to step in when a substitute teacher cannot be found.”

The following measures were signed into law:

  • House Bill 4798: Allows currently enrolled students in educator preparation programs in Illinois who have earned 90 credits can be qualified for a substitute teaching license.
  • Senate Bill 3907:  Increases the number days a Short-Term Substitute Teacher may teach consecutively for any one licensed teacher under contract in a school district from five to 15 days.
  • Senate Bill 3988: Allows 18 year olds to become paraprofessional so long as they meet all the other requirements for such a license, and they will be using the license for exclusively elementary education. The current age requirement is 19 years old.

A survey released by EdWeek Research Center last fall reported that more than 75% of school principals and administrators are reported to have said that they are having trouble finding enough substitutes to cover teacher absences in 2021.

Some school districts have had to close for a day due to the staffing shortages. Schools often are forced to resort to asking other teachers to fill in during their prep periods or combining classes. Hastings believes both of these options negatively impact educators and students.

“We need to work together to ensure our substitute teachers and educators are given the resources to be successful,” Hastings said. “These new laws will help move Illinois one step closer toward ending this crisis. It is essential that we work together and give our children an opportunity to receive an excellent educational experience.”

Hastings also supported the budget approved by the General Assembly this month that invests an additional $350 million into Illinois students’ success through the evidence-based funding model for K-12 education. He also sponsored Senate Bill 157 which increases the educator’s tax credit to up to $500 for out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies.

House Bill 4798 and Senate Bill 3988 go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023 while Senate Bill 3907 will go into effect immediately.