Fewer Requirements for Substitute Teachers

Javier Lopez, Staff Writer

Due to a shortage of substitutes in the county, the MCPS Board of Education (BOE) submitted a proposal March 12 to review the requirements and guidelines for substitute teacher applicants in order to increase the number of substitutes in the county.

The county currently requires substitute teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree or to have completed a teacher education program which includes student-teaching from an accredited institution, but the statewide requirement for substitute teachers is only a high school diploma.

The county is looking to lower the requirements to an associate degree and hoping to hire college students looking for teaching experience.

“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. 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,” at-large representative on the BOE Jeanette E. Dixon said.

Dixon added that she hopes that the proposal for new requirements will cast a wider net to have enough substitutes to cover every school’s needs.

Advanced Placement Government & Politics teacher Elizabeth Seabreeze questions whether the amount of education that a substitute receives will make a difference on how the classroom is run.

“I’m not going to say that people that only have an associates degree wouldn’t be a good sub because it totally depends on the person. It’s not like they are getting more training from getting a bachelor’s degree,” Seabreeze said.

The current shortage of substitute teachers is not just in Montgomery County, but nationwide, due to a competitive job market where there are other alternative employment opportunities.

With a shortage of substitute teachers, teachers might not be able to find a substitute in time and instead look to another teacher who must take time off from grading and planning to cover for that class.

“I do know that more schools talk about how we struggle to find substitutes and it’s getting more difficult just to have numbers to be able to cover positions so we don’t have to have teachers covering other classes,” Principal Billie-Jean Bensen said.

Superintendent Jack Smith will present his recommendations on the proposal in July and has already expressed his approval of the proposal according to a March 15 Bethesda Beat article.