MCPS’ Answer for Substitute Teacher Shortage Met with Mixed Reviews

Montgomery County Public Schools are considering loosening the requirements for substitute teachers. Until now, Montgomery County has required potential substitutes to have at least a Bachelor’s degree or received certification from an accredited program. If the qualifications are lowered, individuals will need an Associate’s degree or a minimum of 60 college credits beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

According to Bethesda Magazine, there are currently around 120 unfilled substitute requests per day. Substitute teacher shortages are common around the nation, which often means full-time teachers spend their time filling in for other classes instead of dedicating time to grading papers or lesson planning for their own.

Qualifications for substitute teachers vary by districts within the state and neighboring jurisdiction. However, MCPS is the only is the only district that requires a bachelor’s degree.

If the requirements are changed, the move is expected to boost diversity in schools, as well as provide experience for local college students. “Students who are at the University of Maryland or Montgomery College who are interested in being teachers, we might be able to employ them as well.” said at-large representative on the BOE Jeanette E. Dixon, according to an article from the Rockville Rampage. “Another thing that would happen, given the diversity of Montgomery County, we probably would get a greater pool of people that’s diverse as well.”

Many benefits are being expected from the regulation revision:

  • Number increase of available substitutes
  • Larger diverse pool of candidates
  • Encouraging more individuals to be teachers
  • Opportunity for future teachers to develop skills
  • Opportunity for College students to work while in school or on break
  • Improving the quality of first-year teachers
  • Limiting the need for in-school class coverage

Superintendent Jack Smith said that the school system has received “overwhelming support” for the proposed policy change from the teachers’ union, teachers, principals, local college officials and current substitute teachers in a memo to school board members, according to Bethesda Magazine.

However, not everyone is excited about the possible shift. Suggestions of loosening restrictions on substitute teacher positions have been met with backlash, largely concerning the safety of students.

In a Facebook post from “Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County,” the group said: “It is as if the Board of Education has not noticed how many children have been sexually abused by MCPS staff in the last few years. In fact, they haven’t noticed. They haven’t said a word about these crimes and have not shown any interest in keeping students safe. Now they want to “loosen” standards for substitute teachers??? Roll the dice parents.”

Montgomery County residents are encouraged to express their opinions on the issue in a form released by MCPS.

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Frances Moyonero

About Frances Moyonero

Frances Moyonero is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. She was born and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, but she has expanded her horizons within and outside the U.S. She can be reached at fmoyonero@mymcmedia.org or via twitter @Franny_Moyonero.

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