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Illinois Education Association releases State of Education


Problems with underpaid and overworked teachers and support staff underscore newly released survey data from the sixth annual State of Education Report released Tuesday by the Illinois Education Association.

“We can look at the results of this survey over the last few years and clearly see a trend; people have a growing appreciation for their teachers, education support staff and our higher education faculty and staff,” said IEA President Al Llorens. “But they also know that the jobs of teachers and support staff have become much harder and that they are still underpaid and undervalued.”

58% of respondents believe teachers are underpaid, according to data collected between Jan. 22 and Jan. 25 by pollster Jill Normington of Democrats Normington-Petts and former Illinois GOP chair Pat Brady of Next Generation Strategies. The proportion of those who believe teachers are underpaid has increased by 9% since last year.

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 71% say education support staff are also underpaid, 76% say teaching has become more difficult in the last few years, and 79% say they are “very concerned” about the teacher shortage.

“What all this should tell us is that public education is a very important issue for the people of this great state, and they do not want the status quo; They want better for our students, teachers, faculty and staff,” Llorens said. “Strong schools are an investment in the future of our students and our state. But we will never have strong, equitable schools for all students until our schools are fully funded, our educational support staff are paid a living wage, and the salaries and benefits of our teachers and faculty are equal to the work they do. To do.”

In January, the Tribune reported that there was a shortage of paraprofessionals in Crystal Lake District 47. According to the District 47 Board of Education, starting pay for newly hired support staff is $16.14 per hour.

Stephanie Lieurance, president of the Crystal Lake Support Personnel Association and educational resource paraprofessional at Southern Elementary School in District 47, said it is becoming increasingly difficult to live on a non-professional wage.

“I make about $20,000 a year. That doesn’t even cover the cost of the insurance the district offers us,” Lieurance told the Tribune in January. “I’m lucky that my husband has a good life, but I know a lot of parents who have to leave and find other full-time jobs because they can’t afford to support their families.”

Lieurance said many paraprofessionals in District 47 and across the state support students with disabilities and students with autism who are nonverbal. Often, paraprofessionals deal with students who are scratched, spat on, and physically interfere.

One of the questions in the survey asked Illinois adults if they had ever heard of teachers and paraprofessionals being physically assaulted at school.

While 10 percent said they did not know, 48 percent answered yes. A follow-up question asked participants if a paraprofessional had been assaulted in their school community; 49% answered no and 22% said yes.

But the vast majority of those surveyed supported new legislation to stop and prevent violence against teachers and support staff in schools.

“The data clearly shows us that Illinoisans have growing support for public education, education support staff and the teachers who do this work,” Normington said. “We’ve been doing this survey for six years and so we have some great comparability and the ability to see trends. “We saw increased support in nearly every aspect of our survey this year, from teacher retirements to public school funding.”

Normington said surveys are typically conducted on registered voters or likely voters, but this data set reflects what Illinois actually looks like from a demographic and regional standpoint.

“We usually do this survey around this time and are waiting until about halfway through the school year to talk to people all over Illinois,” he said.

One of the questions asked participants to write down a word or phrase that comes to mind when thinking about Illinois public school teachers.

The most used word was “underpay”, followed by overwork and industriousness.

Other words used among the 1,000 entries were unionized, hard-working, caring, overwhelmed, and words like liberal and “woke.”


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