“Even with the historic pay raises and budget increases, we’re still facing a teacher shortage. We’ve got to figure out a way to increase the potential pool of teacher applicants, and attracting out-of-state teachers is one way we can do that,” Pugh said. “However, we need to get rid of some of the roadblocks that are keeping out-of-state teachers from continuing their careers in our classrooms. Recognizing their teaching certificates and years of service is a great first step.”
Pugh pointed to two major problems keeping out-of-state teachers from applying in Oklahoma schools. First, when teachers move to Oklahoma from another state they must get re-certified, which involves possibly taking competency examinations and meeting other requirements set by the State Board of Education – all of which are costly and time consuming. Second, regardless of an out-of-state teacher’s years of experience, Oklahoma only gives credit for five, which can significantly lower their potential salary. SB 1125 directs the State Board of Education to issue a teaching certificate to anyone who holds a valid out-of-state teaching certificate, with no other requirements except a criminal history record check. It prohibits the individual from being required to take any additional competency examinations prior to receiving a teaching certificate.
Pugh noted his bill was a follow up to his SB 670 that was signed into law this past session providing reciprocal licensing for military personnel and their spouses. Because it is under a different title of law, teacher licensing was not covered under SB 670 so Pugh hopes to address it with SB 1125.
SB 1126 would grant a teacher credit for all years of out-of-state or out-of-country teaching experience as a certified teacher or its equivalent at primary and secondary schools operated by the U.S. Department of Defense or affiliated with the U.S. Department of State for the purpose of state salary increments.
“We’re losing qualified teachers to other states or industries simply because they have an out-of-state teaching certificate, and then we’re ignoring their years of service. This is especially hard for teachers in military families who are re-stationed to Oklahoma,” Pugh said. “We’re in desperate need, but these rules are not welcoming to these potential teaching applicants. Making these simple changes is going to make a dramatic impact in our schools and the future of education in Oklahoma.”
The bills will be up for consideration when the legislative session begins in February.