Department of Education proposes teaching incentives to help fill vacancies; one future teacher responds

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FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Some new teachers across Arkansas might get help starting their career sooner than expected.

Teachers in quarantine have forced several schools to switch to virtual learning this year.

The Department of Education is asking that the state waive the $75 fee for teaching licenses and speed up the paperwork process to get teachers in the classroom as soon as possible.

Lauren Richardson is preparing for a career in education and a new state proposal could help her achieve that goal even sooner.

“Regardless of Covid, we shape the young minds,” she said.

Dr. Ivy Pfeffer with the ADE said there has been a major shortage of teachers this year due to COVID-19. As of this week, 29 districts have had to modify their teaching options.

“Every time we look at these modifications, more often than not, it is staffing issues due to quarantines,” Dr. Pfeffer said.

State leaders are pushing for new teachers to enter the workforce quickly by speeding up the licensing process and waiving fees. However, some are concerned it is too soon. Richardson said otherwise.

“I feel very confident that we would succeed in the classroom if put in a position as soon as possible,” Richardson said.

As a student teaching intern, Richardson puts in 40 hours a week in classrooms right now as she prepared to step into the workforce. She said as she starts teaching next semester in the middle of a pandemic, her desire to teach still has not been affected.

“My love for teaching just trumps that fear,” she said. “I would much rather still be able to educate the young minds than sit at home in fear.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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