Emergency Certifications On Record Pace
July 27, 2017
By Alicia Priest
This morning, the Oklahoma State Department of Education Board of Education approved 631 emergency certifications. So far, that’s 855 this summer, which is already far outpacing last year.
The teacher shortage is a crisis affecting every school district across the state. We appreciate Oklahomans willing to step in and fill the gap, but it begs the question: why do we have this gap at all? Our growing number of emergency certifications is a symptom a greater sickness — a sickness caused by chronic underfunding, a decade without raises and a culture of disrespect toward education.
No one should trust me to walk into a hospital tomorrow and start work as a nurse. I couldn’t be an accountant or a zookeeper. Why do we presume teaching is so easy that anyone with a college degree can show up and wing it?
Teaching is challenging, and educators take on those challenges every day. We have students who are three years ahead of their peers or three years behind. We have children with special needs or learning disabilities or mental illness. We have children without homes or families or anything to eat. While well-meaning, those stepping into the classroom with emergency certification may not have the skills necessary to reach, teach and inspire students regardless of the mountains they have to climb. It’s unfair to them and their students to show up ill-prepared. Our children deserve better. The Oklahoma Education Association stands at the ready to help emergency certified teachers meet the challenges of being a classroom educator.
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