OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new state law allows adjunct teachers to teach full time in qualifying school districts.
Senate Bill 1119 went into effect on July 1.
It strips away the maximum hours adjunct teachers can teach in a class from 270 hours. Local school districts now determine that number.
“That simply gives school districts the ability to hire someone without an arbitrary number blocking them from hiring someone in a more full-time setting,” said Senator Jessica Garvin, Republican from Duncan.
She said the law does not take away any qualifications or teaching requirements.
“We didn’t change the stipulations for adjunct teachers,” explained Garvin. “We just changed the hours.”
Late last week, a local news outlet reported that the law loosened requirements for teachers.
All weekend, Garvin and her co-author for the bill, Representative Kyle Hilbert tweeted out their clarifications on what the law changed.
SB1119 does not change any requirements to become a teacher.
School districts had the authority to set requirements for adjunct teachers before the law was passed, and they maintain that power now that the law is in effect.
The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, or CCOSA, said in their July magazine that “existing administrative rules provide that the local board of education determines the specific qualifications, duties, salary scale and responsibilities of adjunct teachers.”
The organization added that adjunct teachers “must be approved by the local board.”
Adjunct teachers are people with ‘distinguished qualifications in their field’. Typically, this means a professional with several years of work experience, but sometimes with no teaching certificate or a college degree. Requirements are not universal statewide.
“It may look completely different in different school districts,” said Garvin. “You may have one district who says you have to have 25 years of experience. You may have one who says you have to have ten years.”
Oklahoma Education Association did not agree with the bill.
Katherine Bishop, President of OEA, said in a statement:
“Oklahoma children deserve a highly qualified and trained education professional in each classroom.
Continuing to discredit our profession and the training it requires to meet all the needs of a student will not solve the educator shortage crisis. These types of solutions are short-term answers to long-term problems.
The solutions to these problems are known; we just need the will to do them. We must attract the most qualified educators possible through a culture of respect, investment in competitive pay and resources to support the crucial work of educating the children of Oklahoma.“
Garvin said she wrote this law because she met people in her district that had years of experience in their field, and a desire to teach children, but weren’t qualified until they acquired their teaching certificate.
“There is a physician in Senate District 43 who was going to get his teacher certification so that he could teach anatomy because he was told basically that he wasn’t qualified to teach anatomy in a high school,” said the Republican senator. “I am of the opinion that if someone could cut me open and put me back together, they could probably tell me a little bit about the body.”