SPRINGFIELD – State Senators Cristina Castro and Karina Villa joined Governor Pritzker for the announcement of a new teacher pipeline proposal intended to address continuing shortages in the state’s most understaffed school districts.

“It is important for students to see themselves reflected in their teachers by their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or by other relevant identifiers. As a former social worker, I know firsthand that students come to school with a wide array of different struggles, and having teachers who can relate through lived experiences can improve our children’s education experience,” said Villa (D- West Chicago). “I believe this teacher pipeline is a great first step to ensuring every child is represented and supported by the staff who teaches and uplifts them.” 

Over the next three years, the proposed Teacher Pipeline Grant Program will direct $70 million per year to the 170 school districts with the greatest need to fill teaching positions. The Teacher Pipeline Grant Program will allow districts maximum flexibility to use the funds in innovative, creative, and evidenced-based ways, such as offering signing bonuses, housing stipends, down-payment assistance, or loan repayments; paying tuition and fees or providing residencies or apprenticeships; and sustaining current teachers by providing materials, supplies, coaching, and school culture supports.

“One of the most important things we can do as a society is provide a quality education for our youth, and that begins with ensuring our schools are staffed with qualified, diverse professionals from all backgrounds,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “This pilot program will boost up new teachers and help schools across the state recruit the best and brightest educators to help build a better future.”

Recent data released by the State Board of Education shows that Illinois schools reported 3,558 unfilled teaching positions as of October 2022. The 170 school districts targeted for the proposed program collectively have more than 80% of all teacher vacancies in the state, affecting about 870,000 students. The program would address this gap in positions by providing targeted support to the most affected districts. To learn more the data, visit ISBE’s website.