Governor DeSantis is among the thought leaders in the search for viable solutions to the shortage. His first move was to ensure that teachers worked in dilapidated buildings, underpaid, micromanaged on all sides, forced to buy their own supplies, teaching in overcrowded classrooms, frightened by the prospect of violence, to at the mercy of the whims of parents, forced to teach mythology instead of history, discouraged by classroom libraries whose books mention race and gender, and looking for career options. If the teachers did not leave, there would be no need for a solution. It is therefore important to address the issue at its root.
Governor DeSantis has replaced the magic paper with real graduate degrees from a community college because two years of general curriculum is more than enough to teach a subject. It also provided a pathway for military veterans, regardless of education level, to teach under teacher mentors, who may or may not still be in post next week.
Governor DeSantis made his position clear: “Professors who become great professors don’t become great professors because they sit in a college lecture hall listening to a bloviate professor. What makes a teacher great is being there, doing it, observing experienced teachers and seeing what they are doing that works, working directly with students.
And that’s a big part of the problem: teachers went to college instead of going straight into teaching after high school. Thank goodness Governor DeSantis and other creative thinkers solved the problem on our behalf. Arizona and Oklahoma are at the forefront of ensuring that some adult is in every classroom, as evidenced by the following.
Arizona has provided a pathway for substitute teachers with high school diplomas to replace full-time teachers who leave their posts. As many leave, being a substitute is now equivalent to being a teacher. Guess Governor DeSantis is envious that many teachers in Arizona have never taken a college course and know that all they know about teaching comes from being a college student. ‘last year.
I would extend Governor DeSantis’ logic and ask, why demand a piece of magic paper from a high school either? Students themselves could become amphitheater bloviators when the class size reaches 100.
The Oklahoma state leadership completely ignored the issue of credentials. Teachers are only required to pass a background check and obtain administrative approval, allowing most hot bodies to become “assistant teachers” and thus teach algebra to your children. This waiver goes hand-in-hand with the state’s old rule that “emergency certification” can be granted to any college graduate to teach, an opportunity seized by many.
Unfortunately, many high schoolers will still go to college and seek out magical pieces of paper granted by the bloviator. College admissions boards will need to know how to assess students taught by science teachers whose only qualification is that they have not yet committed a crime.
These plans of these innovators are now being implemented. I applaud these innovative approaches to the teacher shortage, which will be far less costly than making teaching a fulfilling profession. I offer the following solutions to complement the laudable measures developed so far in Florida, Arizona and Oklahoma.
Unemployment offices attempt to match unemployed people with positions that match their qualifications. With qualifying qualifications now off the table, it doesn’t matter who fills a teaching vacancy. People who go to the unemployment office can simply receive instructions to go to the nearest school and be given a subject to teach. As an added benefit, people filing unemployment claims are used to spending hours on bureaucratic paperwork. They are ideal for teaching in today’s schools.
Finally, it is clear that comfort animals would make excellent teachers. Many students are struggling with mental health issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, being isolated from their friends, facing the reality of a planet that cooks faster than the macaroni and cheese they were eating every day at lunch during remote learning, being immersed all day in the drama of social media thanks to their ubiquitous smartphones, and bewildered by the behavior of adults in their community who have made schools scapegoats for all evils of society.
A purring cat, a sleepy dog or a cuddly alligator might not be familiar with fractions, but the soothing calm they provide to a class of angry children would overcome any “learning loss” they might experience in being taught by a four-legged creature.
I offer these solutions for free. Like all the solutions already used, they are worth every penny.