Connor praises passage of fair pay for teachers

State Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, praised the passage of legislation to set minimum teacher salaries at $32,076 for the 2020-21 school year.

Connor supported House Bill 2078, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly during the past legislative session, according to a news release from his office. The representative argued that the bill would help local schools recruit and retain quality teachers.

“Teachers hold one of the most important positions in our society, but we don’t pay them like it,” Connor said. “They prepare our children to enter the workforce, but many still have to live with roommates. I have pledged to build a stronger economy for Illinois, and a key part of that is preparing our kids to hold good-paying jobs.”

The salary would gradually increase by about $2,000 every year for the subsequent four years. The last law guiding universal teacher pay in Illinois was passed in 1980, and it set base salaries for teachers with a bachelor’s degree at just $10,000 a year.

Illinois is 10th in the country in average statewide teacher pay; however, that figure is skewed by higher salaries in the Chicago suburbs. An Illinois State Board of Education study done in 2018 found that more than 500 of Illinois’ 898 school districts started teachers with a bachelor’s degree at salaries less than $40,000, and 167 started them below $35,000. Connor argued that low starting salaries had led to rapid turnover, decreasing the quality of education and creating the teacher shortage the state faces.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.