Following back-to-back historic pay raises and education budget increases, Oklahoma has seen a significant increase in classroom teachers. Today, Oklahoma schools employ more than 43,000 teachers, and Sen. Ron Sharp wants to see those numbers continue to grow. The retired teacher recently filed Senate Bill 1115 to allow school districts to extend emergency teaching certificates indefinitely to help boost their teacher numbers as well as keep those already employed.
“Currently, the State Board of Education won’t extend emergency certification past two years. This is causing us to lose educators, which increases class sizes and negatively impacts academic success,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “Senate Bill 1115 will allow those who don’t wish to get their alternative certification to continue teaching if approved by their local school board. Student enrollment is exploding, and until we have enough teachers, we have to be creative in ways to get and keep qualified educators in our classrooms.”
According to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA), Oklahoma schools had nearly 600 teaching vacancies as of Aug. 1. Nearly 704,000 students enrolled in Pre-K through 12th grade for the 2019-2020 school year, an increase of more than 5,000 students from last school year. The State Board of Education approved 92 emergency certifications in November and another 50 Thursday bringing the fiscal year-to-date total of emergency certified teachers to just under 2,300. The OSSBA has the total school year-to-date total at nearly 3,100.
SB 1115 would allow a school district board of education to renew an emergency or provisional teaching certificate provided certain qualifications are met. The individual must have –
Under the legislation, the school district renewing the emergency or provisional teaching certificate must notify the State Board of Education of the renewal. The school board would then also be authorized to continue renewing the certificate without limitation and could continue paying the teacher at an entry level of the teacher salary schedule.