Considerably before the pandemic, getting a substitute teacher for an Ohio school was a challenge. Now, it’s even more difficult.
An advanced version of a house bill might ease some of the burden. However, despite the fact that not everyone is content, there is a desire for some alleviation that is shared by all parties.
Schools began to offer more money, and Ohio legislators responded by expanding the pool of available substitute instructors. If House Bill 583 becomes law, the larger pool will remain open longer.
Overworked educators say they’ve had a difficult time throughout the pandemic. Schools throughout the nation are having difficulty attracting teachers, according to an Education Week Research Center report.
Even before the pandemic, “substitute teachers have always been a challenge, but it was a challenge before and it continues to be a challenge throughout the pandemic,” NOCS Superintendent David Brand said.
Staffing shortages plague Brand and his faculty, he added.
Principals and administrators are “teaching throughout the week and day,” he added. In order to ensure that our children are cared for and taught on a daily basis, many instructors sacrifice their lunch breaks and other free time.
In order to rectify this, the bill HB 583 has his support.
The initiative would enable school districts to use replacements without college degrees. It’s possible, as long as they complete the school’s educational criteria, pass a criminal background check, and are of “high moral character.”
This implies “anything the board of education decides,” says bill author Rep. Adam Bird, a Republican from New Richmond when asked what moral character is. “Local authority and power, in my opinion, should be given to the people. They have a greater understanding of their community’s norms and the individuals in it than I do. If we can, we want to hand as much control and responsibility over as possible to the local school boards.”
A bachelor’s degree or post-secondary education was required for subs before the pandemic. Due to COVID-19, the regulations had been eased, although this was meant to be a short-term fix.
Students would be able to attend lessons throughout the whole school year without interruption if the law is passed, according to Bird.
For the National School Lunch Program, it allocates $338 million in federal monies.
To that end, the legislator proposed a two-year extension of the current deadline. Our goal is to allow school districts the freedom to do what they believe is best for their students’ education and retention.
Brand has a personal connection to this bill, and he likes it because of it.
“I went to undergraduate school in Michigan and it was similar there, so I was able to substitute teach while going to undergrad to become a teacher,” the educator said. “So that gave great opportunities for me as a young person trying to become a teacher — but it also helped the district.
“We’ve seen that here, too.”
There has been a rise in the number of substitute instructors in recent years, according to Bird, a former school administrator.
The measure was debated in the House and approved with a majority of 80-10 despite some opposition.
Melissa Cropper, the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, wishes there were stricter standards, such as a college degree or previous experience working with children. She is aware, though, of a problem.
To really cover a classroom while a teacher is absent, “it actually enables for nearly anyone to become a substitute teacher, which in some ways is a tremendous concern for us,” Cropper said. “Our lack of rigorous criteria for substitute teachers is causing an issue in the classroom. Our teachers who are there every day are being expected to take on new tasks, and that’s simply making their work even more difficult. We know this.”
There must be a time limit on how long this will last, according to her. She went on to say that it should never go beyond the next two years.
Despite the fact that “this is making a horrific situation a little less dreadful, but in a manner that has the potential to be incredibly harmful,” she added. “Currently, anybody above the age of 18 is permitted to attend classes. It’s my opinion that there should be some limitations on this based on the user’s age.”
Bird agreed, saying he wouldn’t want it either.
According to the official, “I would never agree that it’s appropriate to have a 19-year-old high school graduate as a substitute teacher,” the representative said. “This will enable a local school board to say, “You know that soccer mom, she coaches the soccer team. You know that 35-year-old soccer mom, she’s now in school as a kindergartener.
The second guy is a baseball coach who has experience working with children and may be useful on a daily basis.’
As he goes on to suggest, the replacements may be Sunday school teachers, vacation Bible school instructors, or even members of the community like recently released veterans.
This does not imply, he said, that they will be creating lesson plans. For the time being, “they’re basically here to keep things moving.”
That made Cropper nervous.
There’s a perception that “we are employing babysitters rather than replacement instructors,” she added. “As a result of this law, people may conclude that we just need a babysitter throughout the day. We don’t want that long-term impression. When a teacher isn’t there, students need to be able to continue on their learning or at least retain some level of it.”
Bird argued that having a class was preferable than having none at all. But he did hear the concerns and introduced an amendment to the bill that would form a research group to investigate the source of the scarcity of replacement instructors.
There may be ways to increase the number of substitute instructors in Ohio, he said.
A few things that Bird and Cropper agreed on: treating replacement instructors with dignity and ensuring that they are compensated adequately.
If we can assist folks get back on their feet and improve their chances of becoming teachers, it’s a win-win situation for everyone, Brand added. As a result, “I would advise everyone to look into it and help make a difference in the lives of youngsters.”
The Senate’s Primary and Secondary Education Committee is presently debating the measure. In order to pass it, it must proceed even quicker in the Senate than in the House. The law must be signed by Gov. Mike DeWine by mid-May in order to take effect for the next school year.