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Oregon lifts bachelor's degree requirement for substitutes in schools

The rule change, which is temporary, aims to fill a shortage many districts have seen over recent years.

Posted: Oct 12, 2021 2:14 PM
Updated: Oct 12, 2021 9:40 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- For a limited time, if you want to be a substitute teacher in Oregon, you won't need a bachelor's degree.

The state of Oregon issued a temporary rule that will allow school districts to implement Emergency Substitute Teaching Licenses.

A statement from the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission said: "This license is similar in most respects to our current substitute licenses, with one significant difference. If the sponsoring district provides the substitute with enhanced support and administrative supervision, the license can be granted without a bachelor's degree."

This temporary license is reportedly valid within the sponsoring school district for the remainder of this school year, or for six months, whichever one is later.

Normally, in the state of Oregon, you must have at least a bachelor's degree and hold a first aid card in order to be a licensed substitute teacher. 

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KEZI 9 News spoke to Dr. Anthony Rosilez, the executive director for the Oregon teacher commission. He said the commission will continue checking in with schools to see how things are going toward the end of the year. 

"When our principals and superintendents have come to us asking for this type of flexibility, I can tell you that they've already made some very delicate calculations in terms of where do they see the potential challenges as well as the potential benefits of having this type of a substitute license," said Rosilez. 

The commission said they believe the new license will allow districts to recruit community members to fill the important need for substitute teachers in school districts across the state.

KEZI 9 News spoke to Sabrina Gordon, the president of the Eugene Education Association. She said she isn't convinced this will help the Eugene school districts.

"Students deserve to have professional educators in the classroom every day, and while we are appreciative of anybody that's willing to step in and help, we can't rely on that long term," said Gordon. "We need to have professional -- like the best educators possible in front of our students every single day."

She said this is a short-term solution to a long-term shortage that has been happening for years.

MORE: Corvallis school district considering vaccine mandate for students

We also checked in with already licensed substitute teachers in Springfield. Nick Wing told KEZI 9 News substitutes who are brought into districts through this new, temporary license might not be as committed to students as substitutes like him. 

"You know, the other day when I heard the F-word several times because I told a student to put on their mask, I just knew how to deal with that. Other subs would just not come back to that building again. But I'm committed to this city and I'm committed to the schools I sub at that I know what I'm getting into, and I want to serve that staff and I want to serve those kids too," said Wing. 

Rosilez said the commission will evaluate the success of the temporary license more toward the end of 2021 and the start of 2022. 

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