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Rep. Sharon Chung joins statewide teacher shortage working group

Woman posing for photo while leaning left arm over a railing in a hallway
Eric Stock
State Rep. Sharon Chung, D-Bloomington.

Democratic state Rep. Sharon Chung of Bloomington is helping to address the state’s teacher shortage by joining the newly-formed Teacher Shortage Working Group.

Chaired by state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Collinsville, the group will work to find solutions to the ongoing issues surrounding the shortage of qualified teachers.

Chung said while the group has not met yet, she imagines members will meet with different stakeholders, such as Illinois State Board of Education members.

“We’ve already done things with raising the teacher minimum pay,” Chung said in an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas. “I know that there are bills right now even just being discussed this session about paid student teaching. That could be another thing that’s on the table.”

Chung said there was a large turnout of Illinois State University students at a hearing for the bill that would begin paying student teachers.

“It’s something to see if we value teachers at every stage, the ones who are thinking about going into teaching, and making sure that we do support the teachers while they are teaching, and then even just examining the idea of pension after they do retire,” Chung said. “To show that we do value teaching and education and our teachers at all levels of their career.”

She added, “I’m really honored to be part of this working group because we are probably going to be really talking to a lot of people, trying to see if we can come up with some solutions, maybe even ways to just encourage more people to go into the teaching profession.”

A recent survey from the Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents showed 90% of them reported a “serious” or “very serious” teacher shortage problem.


On another matter, Chung also is working with Senate Assistant Majority Leader David Koehler, D-Peoria, to introduce bills to create “battery stewardship organizations” in which manufacturers and retailers to ensure that lithium-ion batteries are marked as ill-suited for household waste.

The organizations also would be responsible for setting up safe collection sites and events in each county, requiring that at least 70% of original batteries and 60% of rechargeable batteries are properly disposed of. The bill passed out of the Illinois Senate.

“It really puts it into the producer’s hands to help batteries basically from the beginning of their lifetime when they’re manufactured to the end after the batteries aren’t being used anymore,” Chung said. “We’re really trying to come up with safe and environmentally-safe ways to be able to dispose of them.”

Chung said some retailers in McLean County used to take back batteries, paid for by fees from the old landfill that closed in 2018.

“This is a great step to really make sure that we are doing the most environmentally sound way to be able to dispose of batteries and recycle them and make sure that there’s no fires, chemicals leaching into the ground,” Chung said.

Megan Spoerlein is a reporting intern at WGLT. She started in 2023. Megan is also studying journalism at Illinois State University.
Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.