From the Missouri National Education Association
1810 E. Elm St., Jefferson City, MO 65101
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COVID-19 illness, coupled with Missouri's worst in the nation status for teacher pay, is likely to drive high demand for substitute teachers.
JEFFERSON CITY - Today, the Missouri National Education Association announced opposition to a proposed rule change allowing persons with no college education to qualify as substitute teachers. The plan permits any person to become a long-term or short-term substitute teacher with only 20 hours of YouTube-style training. Currently, earning a substitute teaching certificate requires two years of college coursework. The proposed change preserves the requirement to pass a background check before a substitute teaching certificate is issued.
"A well-trained teacher is critical to student success," says Phil Murray, a classroom teacher from Poplar Bluff and President of the Missouri National Education Association. "DESE's plan to lower standards for substitute teachers undermines students and de-values the teacher's role. In Missouri, there are over 200,000 certified educators districts could hire as substitutes. If districts have difficulty hiring substitutes, it's because educators feel unsafe returning to in-person instruction as COVID-19 infection rates climb."
Missouri, designated as a COVID-19 "Red Zone" by the Trump administration, announced 1,267 new COVID-19 infections Thursday. Disturbingly, 23% of Missouri's cases are school children and college-aged adults. The rising number of young persons infected with COVID-19 has led many school districts to change back-to-school plans opting for distance learning over in-seat instruction. According to a recent survey, Missouri educators are confident their local school district is well prepared for virtual learning. The same survey found less than 5% of educators are sure their school district has the necessary PPE to keep students and staff safe.
"As educators, we spend years learning our profession and building the skills to help students. Thinking a few hours of YouTube-style training is all it takes to support students and manage a classroom does a disservice to the profession of teaching," said Murray. "Missouri's State Board of Education and DESE have always advocated for high standards – reversing course now hurts our students and schools in the long-run. The State Board of Education should reject any attempt to lower educator quality and focus on keeping Missouri students, teachers, and school personnel safe."
The 32,000-member Missouri NEA represents teachers, education support professionals, college faculty, retired teachers, and students studying to be teachers in school districts and on college campuses throughout the state. It is the Missouri affiliate of the 3 million-member National Education Association.