The St. Petersburg local school district hired mothers with matriculation certificates to work as substitute teachers. Strongsville City Schools recruited students. Whitehall City Schools asked principals and office staff to cover the classes.
“For the past two years, every school in Ohio has had days of failing to find substitute teachers,” said Adam Byrd representative, R-New Richmond.
But many of those substitutes – especially those without academic degrees – would not have been allowed to enter the classroom if lawmakers had not calmed state requirements during the COVID-19 epidemic. Temporary teachers were forced to pass background checks, but counties could waive most of the other preconditions such as requiring substitutes to have an academic degree.
Schools, especially those in rural areas of the country, have jumped on the bandwagon.
“When you live in Appalachia and have a four-year degree, you’re probably going to work a full-time job,” said Don Jones’ representative, R-Freeport. “You will not seek to replace teaching.”
The law will expire in June. And although COVID cases are declining, Jones said the shortage of a replacement shows no signs of stopping.
What does House Law 583 do?
That’s why he and Byrd introduced Bill 583. The legislation will continue to replace the educators’ licenses for a year until June 2024. It passed Ohio House 76-9 on Wednesday.
HB 583 will move to the next Senate, and one of Ohio’s largest teacher lobbying groups hopes it will win some changes.
“There may be some flexibility when it comes to short-term interchanges when someone is in class for three or four days,” said Ohio Education Association president Scott Dimauro. “There needs to be a lot more testing when it comes to longer missions.”
The Ohio Teachers Federation said in a statement that “reassuring demands for substitutes cannot be a permanent solution.”
Compensation, recruitment and listening to teachers leaving the profession should be taken into account here, said OFT President Melissa Cropper.
She was pleased that HB 583 received a correction to learn why the pool of substitute teachers continues to shrink. But that was not enough for some Democrats, like State Representative Joe Miller, D. Amerst.
“I oppose it,” said the former teacher, “because it has the negative effect of replacing teachers outside the classroom for a long period of time – up to an entire school year – with a non-trained substitute.”
Anna Staver is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other related news organizations across Ohio.