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The latest plan to ease Illinois' teacher shortage aims to make it easier for out-of-state and retired teachers to get into Illinois classrooms. 

State Rep. Tom Bennett said schools in his central Illinois district used to get dozens, maybe a hundred applications from new teachers for open positions. 

Now, he said, they don't get anywhere near that.

"When I talked to a number of school districts in my district and around the state, it's clear we're really in a teacher crisis," Bennet said. "When they used to have people come to interview for open positions, they used to have 50 or maybe 100 people come. Now when new teachers come looking for jobs, there may be a handful."

Gov. Bruce Rauner last week signed one of Bennett's plans, HB 5627, to ease that shortage. The new law will make it easier for teachers from other states to transfer their teaching license to Illinois. 

"If someone is already teaching in another state, Indiana or Iowa or whatever, we want them to be able to come over to Illinois and make it easier for them to teach," Bennett said. "Especially if they are already teaching. If they already understand the mechanics of the classroom. If they understand how to pull things together."

Bennett's plan also allows retired teachers to substitute teach up to 120 days a year without affecting their pensions. Retired teachers were limited to 100 days of the 180 day school year before they had to worry about a penalty for working. 

The latest survey in the state from last year said that almost 90 percent of Illinois schools were short at least one teacher, or had trouble covering a classroom. 

Reporter

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois statewide issues for INN.

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