Campus News · Community News

Kansas modifies requirements to alleviate teaching shortage 

Jen Anima

Lantern Staff

On Wednesday, Jan. 12, the Board of Education passed an emergency declaration to change the requirements for becoming a substitute teacher in the state of Kansas. The declaration will last until Wednesday, June 1 in hopes it will help the shortage of staff because of Covid-19 in Kansas schools. According to KWCH as of Saturday, Jan. 26, there have been 17,344 positive tests reported in Butler County. Because of these cases, there have been staff shortages forcing multiple schools to shut down for a few days in the month of January.   

The original requirements for becoming a substitute teacher were a minimum of 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university, a teaching license and one must meet the employment qualifications. The new requirements took a complete turn now, only asking for a high school diploma, passing a background check, filling out an application and having applied to a certain district or school.   

This new declaration could be a great opportunity for students wanting to go into the education field to get experience in the classroom, according to one Butler professor.  

“It might just have a positive effect on our future teachers from Butler,” Shellie Gutierrez, professor of education, said. “Now they can get into the classroom as emergency substitutes before they finish their associate degrees.”  

Gutierrez is currently head of the BEST (Butler & Emporia from Students to Teachers) program here at Butler. The BEST program allows students to achieve a four-year bachelor’s degree in elementary education while still attending Butler.  

“The schools are in crisis,” Gutierrez said. “There are no easy solutions to the lack of substitutes and the lack of teachers during this pandemic.”   

Although this could potentially be an opportunity for future educators to get into the classroom, the lowered requirements have created back and forth conversations about whether this is a good decision. Suggestions have been made about shutting down schools or going remote, but there was a bill that was passed in the spring of 2021, which limited the amount of time for remote learning to 40 hours per year. With the lowered requirements, people as young as 18 will now be seen in the classrooms around Kansas.   

 “Substitutes already face the challenges of unengaged students and bringing in younger substitutes only makes this worse,” Brooklyn Hunter, a freshman and education major, said.  

There are current teachers in the system today that agree with the negative effects of this reduction in requirements.  

“If all you need is a legal adult in the room, then this is helpful. But if you want a trusted adult to continue a child’s education in the stead of their classroom teacher, this bar is a little too low.” Becky Marin, a current USD 259 teacher, said.  


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