Illinois faces oversupply of teachers

By Gus Bode

Students interested in becoming teachers might want to think twice.

Public school systems do not have enough jobs available to hire the thousands of new teachers Illinois is producing, according to a report from the Illinois Department of Education. All subject areas have seen an oversupply except bilingual education.

Illinois looks for a 2-1 ratio for teachers, meaning there would be two teachers available for every position. Only one area – bilingual education – failed to reach that ratio. Special education did make the 2-1 ratio, but has struggled to do so in the past.


Jan Waggoner, director of teacher education at SIUC, said the department informs students there will be more teaching positions available in special education, but doesn’t want to push students into something they won’t enjoy.

‘We try to look at the holistic view, but also alert them that there are jobs in special education if they’re suited for them,’ Waggoner said. ‘Just because there’s a job, doesn’t mean the student’s personality and dispositions would be well suited.’

‘We’re interested in not only helping students find jobs, but also that they would keep those jobs because it’s a good fit for them,’ she said.

Waggoner said students unwilling to move away from the southern Illinois region have found difficulties getting teaching jobs.

The most oversupplied areas are elementary education, English education arts, social science and physical education, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

According to the report, 5,033 new teachers were certified to teach social science statewide in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007, but only 373 were hired in the 2007-08 school year.

But Brittany Allgaier, a senior from Carbondale studying elementary education, said if students do what’s necessary, they will find a job following graduation.


‘I feel that if you have the right experience and you’ve worked a lot, then your opportunities are much more open to getting a job,’ Allgaier said.

Allgaier said she is already receiving experience as a student teacher at Carbondale Middle School.

The area that has the biggest need for new teachers is bilingual education, as it is the only area that did not meet the 2-1 state ratio.

Karen Baertsch, a senior lecturer in the linguistics department, said there are a total of 97 undergraduate and graduate students majoring in linguistics at SIUC, but not all of them are interested in teaching.

Baertsch said those in the department who are interested in becoming teachers should have no problem finding a job after graduation, especially those specializing in English as a second language.

‘One of the things those students learn is how to teach English to non-native speakers,’ Baertsch said. ‘There’s a lot of jobs for people with those specifications. It’s one of those areas where there are a lot of jobs and not enough people who are applying for those jobs.’

Stile Smith can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 268