Oklahoma’s increased reliance on emergency certification to fill its classrooms with teachers is a troubling trend that must be reversed sooner rather than later.

A record 3,038 teachers were admitted during this past school year through that credentialing process, according to reporting from CNHI’s Capitol Bureau. That represents a 9,400% increase from just nine years ago, when the 32 emergency teaching certificates that were issued were relatively rare.

If education would have remained the priority it had been when reforms were made during the early 1990s, it is likely there would be little need for emergency teaching certificates today. But tax cuts and incentives to favored industries resulted with funding cuts for schools, which prompted an exodus of teachers from Oklahoma because that profession was less attractive here.

We’re certainly appreciative of those professionals willing to share their experience and knowledge with students in classrooms across the state. And there is something to be said about the application of real life to lessons being learned in the classroom, but teaching is a profession that requires more than just knowledge about a particular subject.

Educators believe that increased funding the past couple of years could help reverse this trend, but it is going to take a long-term commitment from lawmakers to ensure a steady flow of new teachers ready to enter the system. Any disruption in funding will stall progress that has been made, and Oklahoma cannot afford to go backward when it comes to education.

~ The Muskogee Phoenix

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