Stuart bill addressing underpayment of teacher-mentors becomes law

Springfield, IL – Experienced educators will no longer be underpaid for mentoring newer colleagues under new legislation sponsored by state Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville), and signed into law on June 30.

“For many Illinois educators, teaching consists not only of many hours inside the classroom, but also many hours outside the classroom,” Stuart said. “But even though mentoring by more experienced colleagues is an important part of newer teachers learning their indispensable trade, we were seeing that those who provided this mentoring were too often doing so without adequate pay in proportion to their time. And that wasn’t right.”

During the legislative session, advocates showed how teachers who’d been mentored by veteran colleagues were markedly more effective in achieving positive learning outcomes for students, including an average of over six months of additional learning achievement per mentored teacher and higher average scores on standardized tests.

Under existing law, veteran teachers who were part of the National Board of Certified Teachers (NBCT) “Teaching Excellence Program” could mentor their junior colleagues for up to 30 hours a year and receive up to $1,500. However, many mentors were exceeding that limit out of necessity and ultimately ended up working for free.

House Bill 1291 will increase the limit to 45 hours a year with a maximum pay incentive of up to $2,250 — levels which advocates told lawmakers are more in line with reality. The bill was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on July 7.

“Teachers are already grossly underpaid in many cases and on top of that they have one of the most challenging and, too often, thankless jobs in our economy. Asking those who are recognized as experienced veterans to do even more for even less is simply unfair,” Stuart said. “They should be paid for every hour they work and, with this law, we’ve taken a significant step toward meeting that standard.”

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