Gov. Fallin recently signed into law a measure to address Oklahoma’s historic teacher shortage. On Monday, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced that the state still has around 1,000 vacant classroom positions this school year, and at least 500 others being filled by people who received emergency teaching certification.
Senate Bill 20, by Sen. Ron Sharp and Rep. Katie Henke, would allow the State School Board of Education to issue teaching certificates to anyone who holds a valid out-of-state certificate and who meets the requirements to be considered highly qualified.
“The last few years, the legislature and governor have been focused on improving education. However, if you don’t have highly-qualified teachers in the classroom, the students aren’t going to get the best education possible; and they’re going to get an even worse education, if schools have empty teaching positions that they’re forced to combine with other classes,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “Every teaching position must be filled and we need to strive to fill them with the best teachers possible. I want to thank my colleagues for helping get this important piece of legislation to the governor and for her support as well.”
The teaching certificate would only be issued for those subject areas and grade levels most closely aligned to the subject areas and grade levels recognized on the out-of-state certificate.
Also under SB 20, anyone who has a qualifying out-of-state teaching certificate who has five years of successful teaching experience as a certified teacher in an accredited school would not be required to take any additional competency, subject area or other applicable exams or be required to pay any additional fees for certification.
“Our public schools are struggling to find qualified teachers and fill empty positions,” said Sharp. “In essence, these out-of-state educators are doing our state a favor by coming here to teach so we should not burden them to pay for and retake the same expensive tests that they’ve already passed once. If they have the credentials and are highly-qualified, certified teachers, we need to make it as easy as possible for them to teach in our schools.”
Those with valid out-of-state teaching certificates must have on file with the state Board of Education both a current Oklahoma and national criminal history record check. Once the Board receives the Oklahoma background check, they may issue a temporary certificate which will be effective until they receive the national fingerprint-based criminal history record check.