Payment for Student Teachers

Payment for Student Teachers

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Kyle Decker started this petition to Illinois State Board of Education and

We need to talk about the teacher shortage and what the major issue is keeping many potentially qualified teachers out of the field. Namely: with very few exceptions, you don't get paid while student teaching. At least not while at public schools in Illinois.

The fact is most people cannot afford to work for free for three months. While tuition waivers are extremely helpful, they don't pay bills. They don't keep roofs over people's heads and they don't put food on tables. Taking out loans to pay for living expenses during that time is throwing gasoline on the proverbial fire and only adds to the student loan crisis facing our nation.

Not everyone pursuing a teaching career is still in their first round of university wherein they're in class during the day anyway. Some of us go into the field later in life and have bills to pay and dependents to support. Speaking for myself, I will have a foreign fiance arriving by the end of the year. I know a single mother who would make an amazing teacher, all she had left was student teaching. But if the checks were to stop coming, the lights would go out.

There's no nice way to put it. This policy of unpaid student teaching is classist and counterproductive. It is classist because only people of a certain class standing can afford to work full time and not get paid for twelve weeks. And it is counterproductive because it keeps otherwise qualified people out of the field.

My suggestion for helping the teacher shortage is simply this: a stipend for student teachers. This stipend need not be equivalent to a teacher's salary. My suggestion would be to base it on the equivalent pay for a paraprofessional (for someone with a bachelor's degree in Chicago Public Schools this is about $21/hr). I think if people knew they'd have something to live on while student teaching it would remove a major barrier keeping people out of the field.

I strongly believe that a stipend for student teachers would go a long way in addressing the teacher shortage facing the nation. It is, without question, an investment worth making. I hope that you will seriously consider this and make its implementation a priority for 2019.

I am currently employed at Curie High School in Chicago and working as a Special Education Classroom Assistant while I pursue a Master's Degree in Special Education and a teaching license at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Overcoming the hurdle of going nearly three months without pay while student teaching is a very real concern for me. I desperately want to better my ability to provide for myself and future family as well as work with marginalized groups within my community. So I say to the state of Illinois, "Help me help you. Help ME help YOU."

I have contacted the Illinois State Board of Education about this issue. They responded, "ISBE has recently proposed changes to Illinois Administrative Code that would allow educators to receive pay while student teaching. This revision is not final yet, but we are hopeful there will not be any opposition to the change during the public comment period.  The revised language would allow districts or institutions of higher education to offer pay to student teachers."

Which would be AMAZING! I have started this petition to show that there would be public support for paying student teachers so that potential teachers can clear this tremendous obstacle that otherwise prevents them from pursuing a career in education.

Regards,
Kyle C. Decker 

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