Ed Committee hears bills aimed at easing Nebraska’s teacher shortage

1 month ago Nebraska Examiner

LINCOLN — Nebraska teachers, administrators and K-12 education advocates testified Monday before the Legislature’s Education Committee about the scale of Nebraska’s teacher shortage.

The state’s public schools reported nearly 700 unfilled teaching positions at the start of this school year, officials told the committee. Private schools said they were short another 100.

State education statistics show the shortage has been accelerating since the pandemic, with unfilled teaching jobs at the start of the 2022-23 school year up 60% over the previous year.  

The committee heard teacher support for at least parts of three bills proposed to encourage more people to teach and to motivate existing teachers to stay on the job longer. 

New way to qualify to teach

The one bill educators opposed was Omaha State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan’s Legislative Bill 603, which would let certain nonprofits and companies certify teachers outside of colleges.

Teachers, including Millard Education Association President Tim Royers, testifying for the Nebraska State Education Association, said LB 603 would risk watering down new teacher preparation.

By allowing some people to test their way into teaching instead of requiring them to student teach first and show practical ability, he said, new teachers would lack field experience.

“This bill is aimed at letting already identified companies profit from our teacher shortage,” Royers said.

Melanie Olmstead, who advocated for LB 603 on behalf of American Board’s nonprofit teacher certification program, said it would help prepare more teachers for the classroom during the crisis.

American Board was funded by federal grants during George W. Bush’s administration to develop new ways to certify teachers who hold non-education-related bachelor’s degrees.

Linehan said nearly 800 of Nebraska’s classrooms have been staffed this year by people without proper certification to teach what they’re teaching, many in special education.

She cited Nebraska Department of Education statistics that show nearly 200 more teachers retiring than being hired. She said she was trying to maintain standards but expand the applicant pool.

“This bill is not lowering the standards for teacher certification,” she said. “This provides an alternative route for teacher certification.”

Incentives for new teachers

Teachers were more supportive of Linehan’s Legislative Bill 385, which would earmark $10 million to offer teachers up to three annual $5,000 incentives to stay on the job through their fourth year.

The bill also offered incentives for new teachers in specialty areas where districts have had a hard time hiring, including math, science, dual-credit and special education. 

“If it’s a crisis, we’re not going to be able to do just one thing,” Linehan said. “We’re going to have to do several things.”

Mike Lucas, superintendent of Omaha Westside Community Schools, testified in support of LB 385, saying his district was not yet short of teachers but wants to stay that way.

Several testifiers, including Royers, questioned whether the incentives should be broadened and funded more aggressively to make sure they work to reward existing teachers, too.

Jeremy Ekeler of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, which represents many of the state’s parochial schools, suggested reducing the amount of the incentives to help more teachers. 

Hastings teacher Ben Welsch said he welcomed a new investment in new teachers but said he worried about potential troubles when the funding runs out, a so-called “funding cliff.”

Linehan said she wants to have more discussions about making sure experienced teachers are paid enough to stay but said she focused on new teachers because starting salaries are so low that many quit. 

“These kinds of funds would help you keep that kid in Beatrice or Lewiston,” she said. “If you can’t help them, you’re not going to keep them.”

Fewer fees, paid student teaching

Teachers widely backed Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz’s Legislative Bill 519, which would fund their certification fees, retention bonuses and a teaching excellence program and would pay student teachers. 

The bill’s estimated cost of the bill is about $65 million. Of that, $35 million would pay for a $430-per-teacher retention bonus for public and private school teachers and staff. 

Another $30 million would cover the state paying student loans for student teachers willing to teach in Nebraska for at least two to four years. 

Student teachers who start in rural schools or schools with higher concentrations of poverty could keep the pay after two years. They would have to work four years. 

Linehan and State Sen. Tom Briese of Albion raised some questions about the bill’s cost. Walz said she would work with staff and get back to them about the fiscal note.

Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Cheryl Logan, who supports LB 519, told the committee she worries the day is coming soon when some classrooms won’t have a teacher in them. 

OPS, the state’s largest district, which serves more than 50,000 students, has 300 open teaching jobs, many of them in special ed, she said. 

“We are moving to a point where it won’t matter how we move things around, there will be children who don’t have a teacher,” Logan said.

Teaching certificate compact

Bellevue State Sen. Carol Blood also offered a bill teachers liked, Legislative Bill 413, which would sign Nebraska onto a budding teacher certification compact with other states.

The Teacher Mobility Interstate Compact’s goal, she said, is to make it easier for military spouses and teachers certified in other states to be able to teach in Nebraska.

Blood said she hoped her peers would not wait to see what other states do before jumping on board. Compacts like this already work in Nebraska for health care workers, she said.

Ten states would need to pass the legislation for it to take effect among those states, she said. Teachers from those states wouldn’t need to go through a separate licensing process. It would also let states more easily share data on teachers, including disciplinary actions.

Jack Moles, with the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association, said his members often find it difficult to get teachers to cross the border and work in Nebraska schools.

The reason: The state’s separate certification process takes more time, money and testing than some. 

“I think this is a good idea,” he said, “something to really look into.”

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Continue reading...

Read On "Nebraska Examiner"
More News On "Nebraska Examiner"
BREAKING NEWS
1 month ago - Alameda County landlords owed thousands in rent, call for an end to eviction moratorium 1 month ago - Monday Feb. 27 COVID-19 update: 4 deaths in Douglas County 1 month ago - State basketball preview: 6A, 5A tournaments return to Weber State’s Dee Events Center this week 1 month ago - One Wealth Advisors LLC invests in Enovix Co. (NASDAQ:ENVX) 1 month ago - Uncommon length makes Pleasant Valley’s 2-3 a no-scoring zone 1 month ago - Study: Back-to-back hurricanes likely to come more often 1 month ago - What’s Happening Vegas? – March 2023 1 month ago - Osceola County community events calendar for 03/01/2023 1 month ago - North Adams, East Clinton, Unioto still alive 1 month ago - North Korea holds rare meeting on farming amid food shortage 1 month ago - 'Dilbert,' Scott Adams lose distributor over racist remarks 1 month ago - Soap or phone call? Colo. lawmakers want to make prison phone calls free 1 month ago - EXPLAINER: Windstorm was likely a derecho. What is that? 1 month ago - What's Happening in Las Vegas for this Year's March Madness 1 month ago - Outsmarting humans just one step for AI video game players 1 month ago - 'Cocaine Bear' gets high with $23.1M, 'Ant-Man' sinks fast 1 month ago - 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' dominates at SAG Awards 1 month ago - Digital Transformation: The Revolutionary Impact of Technology in Africa 1 month ago - ShotSpotter (NASDAQ:SSTI) Price Target Increased to $44.00 by Analysts at Lake Street Capital 1 month ago - Season 3 of Outer Banks disappoints critics; watch only if you were a die-hard fan of earlier seasons, they suggest 1 month ago - Board Game and Card Game Market Size in 2023 with [ STATISTICS FIGURES] Future Development Status and Forecast up to 2029 1 month ago - Tabletop Gaming Market Size in 2023 NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT and Latest Innovation in Analytics Sector till 2029 1 month ago - Celona Offers Most Comprehensive Private 5G Solutions for U.S. and Foreign Markets 1 month ago - ShotSpotter, Inc. (NASDAQ:SSTI) to Post Q1 2023 Earnings of ($0.03) Per Share, Northland Capmk Forecasts 1 month ago - Asian shares track Wall Street decline on hot economic data 1 month ago - Final Nebraska high school swimming and diving season leaders 1 month ago - Girls BB: Saluting Section Champions 1 month ago - Tens of thousands protest Mexico electoral reforms 1 month ago - Third finals appearance the charm for Hortonville's Skebba; Stoffel makes history for Appleton North 1 month ago - Medical Blades Market Business Opportunities, Top Players and Forecast 2030 1 month ago - Central College Dutch Sports Update – 2/26/2023 1 month ago - Buhro takes individual crown as Oak Harbor earns sectional championship 1 month ago - Nebraska conservatives set sights on education takeover – Associated Press 1 month ago - Back-to-back: Minico successfully defends 4A state wrestling championship 1 month ago - Here are Saturday's high school sports results 1 month ago - Farewell, Fontana: NASCAR's last weekend at a racing gem 1 month ago - Kansas Democrats pick Repass as their new chair despite campaign baggage 1 month ago - Tesla’s Global Engineering HQ in Palo Alto — Opening Party Highlights (Pics, Videos, Quotes) 1 month ago - San Ann'as Pizza and Mexican celebrating 45th anniversary 1 month ago - L.A. on the Record: The Senate takes one more look at Garcetti 1 month ago - Dodge County real estate transfers 1 month ago - How UNL instructors are tackling the emergence of ChatGPT and other AI in higher education 1 month ago - Some Democratic-led states seek to bolster voter protections 1 month ago - Casey Vaughan: Only rain should go down a storm drain 1 month ago - Nebraska conservatives set sights on education takeover 1 month ago - West Michigan Conference basketball: Girls and boys roundup from Feb. 24, 2023 – CatchMark Sports 1 month ago - Jeff Yost: Look Upstream 1 month ago - Brokers Set Expectations for ShotSpotter, Inc.'s Q4 2023 Earnings (NASDAQ:SSTI) 1 month ago - Building affordable homes in Fremont 1 month ago - Local chef to open farm-to-table eatery in Fremont 1 month ago - Jeanna Wilcoxen Murder: Where Is Jeremiah Connelly Now? 1 month ago - More than 70 soldiers killed in Burkina Faso, extremists say 1 month ago - Clyde Council to consider citizens raising chickens in town 1 month ago - Wilhelm: More on Jacksons, Willow Hill and efforts to share insight into African American history 1 month ago - STATE HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING TOURNAMENTS: Crowded at the top ... Trojans third, but well within striking distance in 5A tournament 1 month ago - Bulldog wrestlers have solid day at state 1 month ago - High school boys basketball: 6A/5A second round recap 1 month ago - Head-To-Head Analysis: Amprius Technologies (NYSE:AMPX) & Novanta (NASDAQ:NOVT) 1 month ago - Here are Friday's high school sports results 1 month ago - It’s Official: California Will Be Tesla’s Engineering & AI Headquarters
free geoip