This just doesn’t “add up”


photo by Kate Roberge, Academic Adviser Mathematics Department, Illinois State University

The amount of graduating math teachers has fluctuated over the years, but recently has seen a decently large drop in graduates. There has been a steady decline since 2012.

by Brian Reed, Reporter

Replacing Ms. Jeannine Rude has proven more difficult than anticipated for Meridian High School. Rude is among one of the teachers who will retire at the end of this school year–her area, math. 

Meridian set out to find her replacement in November, and while they’ve received at least one application for each of the other positions currently open, they have not received applications for math. However, it may not be because of the view of Meridian by math teachers, but the lack of teachers themselves.

“In many teacher education programs at universities throughout the state have seen a drop in enrollment in recent years. Math is definitely one of the harder-to-fill areas,” said Dr.  Meghan Kessler, Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois in Springfield. UIS offers a major in Math with a Secondary Education minor, yet they and several other universities have seen a decline in enrollment in not just mathematics, but teaching in general.

This means Meridian shouldn’t be the only school receiving little to no applications for openings, and they’re not. There have been reports of shortages of teachers throughout the state of Illinois, from schools in Auburn to schools in Decatur, multiple schools have had positions left unfilled in their school district.

A couple years ago, lawmakers on the Education Committee listened to teachers and superintendents say teachers will often skip over Illinois because of a variety of reasons, which include the low starting salary and how difficult it is to get a license.

According to the Learning Policy Institute, the total enrollments in education have dropped about 35 percent between 2009 and 2014, from 691,000 to 451,000, all within five years. Over the years, fewer people have become interested in education, in turn, less teaching jobs are being filled. Illinois needs more teachers, which means it needs more students interested in enrolling in education.