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Oklahoma Legislators File Bills To Fight Statewide Teacher Shortage

Preschool teacher, Irene Castell, works on counting with a small group of kids.
Emily Wendler
StateImpact Oklahoma
Preschool teacher, Irene Castell, works on counting with a small group of kids.

Measures focused on attracting and retaining teachers will be considered by lawmakers in February.

Oklahoma lawmakers want to turn the tide on a statewide teacher shortage.

Legislators have filed a flurry of bills to take up when they re-convene in February.

Currently the state has 3,000 emergency certified teachers, educators who are allowed to teach on a temporary basis even though they don’t have all the necessary training. In 2010, there were only 32.

The state and school districts have made it a priority to get more qualified educators in the classroom, bumping teacher pay by an average of $7,000 in the last two years. 

Bills filed include:

  • Senate Bill 1115, would allow school boards of education to renew an emergency or provisional teaching certificate under certain circumstances. The teacher must have been employed by the school district for at least two years. (Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee).
  • Senate Bill 1125, would allow teachers with out-of-state teaching certificates to also obtain a teaching certificate in Oklahoma. (Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond).
  • Senate Bill 1126, also authored by Pugh, would require that teachers with experience out of state have that experience apply to their pay schedule in Oklahoma school districts.
  • Senate Bill 1127, or the Teacher Retention Act of 2020, would provide an annual bonus for teachers who meet certain criteria. That includes being given a district evaluation of “superior,” possessing a National Board certification or if the teacher is recommended for the bonus by the district’s superintendent. (The bill was authored by Rob Standridge, R-Norman.
  • Senate Bill 1128, would make it easier for deaf teachers of deaf students to get into the classroom. The measure would waive some requirements if a teacher is deaf and is fluent and able to teach American Sign Language. (Frank Simpson, R-Springer.)
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