Stratton speaks to education majors about teacher shortage


Ashanti Thomas

As apart of her Illinois college tour, The Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Juliana Stratton, visits Eastern Illinois University and talks about teacher education and the topics of mental health, as well as teacher diversity, in the Buzzard Hall auditorium on Wednesday afternoon.

Madelyn Kidd, News Editor

The Illinois Lieutenant Governor visited Eastern to get insight from education majors at various Illinois universities on ways the state can provide solutions to the teacher shortage crisis on Wednesday.

Juliana Stratton, the lieutenant governor of Illinois, visited Eastern and spoke with education majors on current problems teachers in Illinois face, and how the state can help teachers and schools to prevent more teachers from leaving their jobs.

Currently in Illinois, 35% of local school districts said COVID-19 increased the teacher turnover, 94% said the teacher shortage problem was getting worse and 94% said they are concerned about future teacher shortages, according to a report by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, IARSS.

Education students and professors said the burnout and stress from teaching is one of the many reasons teachers quit leading to the shortage.

Stratton said during her tour she has heard similar problems and concerns from teachers and education majors.

“So one of the issues that comes up over and over again, is the issue of mental health,” Stratton said. “So one of the things that we talked about while I was on the campus today, both at the administration level as well as with the students, is about the need for more enhanced mental health resources. Not just for children who are in school, but also for teachers and educators and paraprofessionals that are in the school because everyone has been impacted by this pandemic. It also means that we have to think about ways to bring more mental health resources to our campuses, for students who are preparing for these professions.”

Throughout Stratton’s tour of universities to talk about the teacher shortage, a common issue is teachers feeling underappreciated for the work they do.

“We have to continue to do more work to make sure that teachers are supported when we look at why we’re having this tour on creating a diverse teacher pipeline is because we do know that especially during this pandemic,” Stratton said. “We’ve seen increased levels of burnout from teachers, teachers feeling like they’re being stretched to their wit’s end and having to come out of their pockets to pay additional things for their classrooms and for their students. And they need support.”

Stratton spoke with Emma Larson, a junior elementary education major, Olivia Triplett, a senior elementary education major, Jose Navarrete-Cooper, a junior special education major, Vanessa Gower, a senior special education and elementary education dual major, and Christina Louie, a senior early childhood education major, about current concerns education majors have for their future career path.

“It’s something that I was super, super excited and thankful to be a part of,” Larson said.  “It’s very appreciative. It makes me feel like my state is appreciating not only what I’m doing right now, but what I’m going to be doing in the next two, three years. And for her to take, her and the rest of the government with Illinois, taking initiative and taking a care for us as teachers is important to us.”

Gower and Louie said the meeting they had with Stratton was beneficial due to Stratton taking the time to listen to them.

“It was a conversation,” Gower said. “She wanted us to elaborate. She wasn’t just like, ‘what’s this’ and then ‘Okay, move on to the next question.’ She was asking all of us.”

“She really wanted to understand what we were saying and like a better deeper understanding for her and not just so we can say it,” Louie said. “She heard it, but she wanted to really feel it. She asked us for the data, and she’d let us have our board and our space to talk.”

Triplett was glad to be a part of the conversation with Stratton today.

“It felt really good to actually have a seat at the table,” Triplett said. “And to get not only my views, concerns and comments and everything on education, but my classmates that we had already talked about the questions that she had sent forward and I was like, ‘What do you guys think about this?’ And so I’m representing my class and bringing that forward to the table as well.”


Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].