We’ve heard a lot of talk about emergency certified teachers in the last few years.

They are people who stepped up when needed to go into Oklahoma classrooms to help fill the teacher shortage. Thousands of them came forward to help — nearly 3,000 last school year alone. In order to keep teaching, though, they had to complete a state program that would allowed them to become licensed educators.

Now, though, the number who complete the program is falling dramatically.

Last school year, just 12.5% of those who received emergency certification went on to receive their regular certification. That was down from about 1 in 3 for the 2017-18 school year, and down from more than half three years earlier.

The reasons surely are varied. We’re sure some decided being a teacher wasn’t for them. Financial considerations no doubt factored in as well.

Oklahoma State Department of Education would like to phase out the need for emergency certifications. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she wants to reduce the humber by 95% by 2025.

Education officials are tightening emergency teaching requirements.

This school year, emergency certified pre-K through third-grade teachers must complete training in the science of reading and effective instructional processes.

And, next school year, the state board won’t place emergency certified teachers in pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms without a teacher certificate.

“I think it’s a clear indication that this not the pathway to becoming a teacher, nor has it ever been the intention to make emergency certification a pathway to becoming a teacher in the state of Oklahoma,” Hofmeister said.

The use of so many emergency certifications was one of desperation. School districts needed someone in classrooms because so many teachers were either getting out of the profession or moving to other states that paid better.

State lawmakers have taken steps to change the situation by boosting pay for teachers and for education spending in general. However, more is going to be needed.

Support for public education can’t just come during times of crisis.

We want to thank those people who stepped up to help out when our schools needed them. We also want state leaders to continue to step up and show their support for education as well.

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