Ohio House passes bill extending looser substitute teacher requirements for another two years

Classroom teacher school pencil
Posted at 12:03 AM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 00:03:43-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still linger — especially in schools. Requirements for substitute teachers were loosened during the omicron surge to help Ohio school districts struggling to fill classrooms. Now, lawmakers are working to extend the waiving of bachelor's degrees for the next two years.

Teacher Leah Barnhart said the shortage of subs has had an impact on Northwest Local Schools.

"We have to split the classes," Barnhart said. "And I've noticed that like janitors will have to come in or gym teachers will be teaching, like, math."

Since requirements have changed, though, Barnhart said she has noticed a difference.

"Most people that come in to sub with that new license are either student teachers, so they're in college learning to be a teacher, or they have some sort of experience with kids," Barnhardt said. "And I feel like anything we can do to get these kids back to some sort of normal education is the best thing we can do."

Legislation that would let the Ohio State Board of Education issue one-year substitute educator licenses through June 2024 passed 76-9 Wednesday. Districts could set their own standards for subs, but they would have to be deemed of good moral character and pass a background check.

The Ohio Federation of Teachers said while it's a fix, it's not a permanent solution.

"During that two years, we need to be figuring out what the root causes of this problem are and how do we address that," said Melissa Cropper, OFT president.

Cropper said salary and work conditions need to be discussed in order to bring change.

"We had an amendment put into the bill that required a study committee to be put together to study the root causes of this," Cropper said. "We hope to be actively engaged with that study committee and to put out recommendations for how the state can attract more people."

Barnhart agreed, saying salary needs to be at the forefront of conversations if Ohio continues to loosen sub requirements.

"With the amount of need that we have, it's kind of the only option right now until teachers are being better compensated for what they're doing," Barnhart said.

House Bill 583 will now go to the Senate.

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