Kansas Allows 18-Year-Olds To Work as Substitutes Amidst Teacher Shortage


Kansas and several other states have loosened the requirement to become a substitute teacher. Compared to the previous requirements of having a bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits, substitutes now only require a high school diploma and to be at least 18 years of age at some schools, according to the Associated Press. 

The new rules regarding substitute teachers in Kansas state that candidates must be 18 years or older, have a high school diploma (GED not acceptable), a verified commitment from a district for employment, pass a background check, and submit a completed application to the state education department. 

Shortages have also caused schools to call for custodians, librarians, and support staff to help cover some of the classrooms. In Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, and California, governors allow schools to use retired teachers for short-term assignments. In places like Utah, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Iowa, schools have allowed state workforce workers to become teachers. State workforce employees are allowed to take up to 30 hours of administrative leave to work as substitute teachers or in other school positions. 

“We’re being asked to consider this measure as a last resort,” said Melanie Haas, board member of the Kansas City Education Board.” Some of the comments I have heard from teachers are very angry. They feel very devalued.”

The director of teacher licensure and accreditation for the Kansas Department of Education, Mischel Miller stated “There are systems that are havings to put people in front of students who do not hold that (substitute teacher) license,” he also stated, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” 

Marcus Baltzell, the spokesman for the Kansas National Education Association said the requirements being lessened could hurt the education students receive.“We’re saying we can take this classroom teacher, who’s trained in pedagogy and everything that comes with that, and just replace them with someone off the street? And We’re going to do that because it’s a crisis?” he asked.

New changes in the Kansas school districts will be effective until Jun.1, the Kansas State Board of Education will also review the changes at that time and add more strict requirements for teachers.

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