Bills modifying teacher exams and helping nursing mothers pass Senate

Mike Seals - March 1, 2021 10:03 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate approved legislation Monday by Sen. Carri Hicks to modify teaching exam requirements and better support nursing mothers in Oklahoma schools.

Senate 51 removes the requirement for the completion of the Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET) for all pathways to certification, and the Oklahoma City Democrat said the test is an expensive, time consuming and unnecessary requirement.

“Oklahoma has been facing a major teacher shortage for several years now. This assessment was put into statute at a time when we had an abundance of applicants into colleges of education, which we know is not the current environment,” Hicks said. “This exam is a duplication of testing since we now use the ACT or SAT as college admittance exams. Therefore, we need to remove this roadblock to help attract and retain outstanding teachers in our classrooms.”      

Currently, individuals seeking teacher certification must pass the OGET, the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Examination (OPTE) and the Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT) for each area in which they want to become certified. The OGET is a computer-delivered exam consisting of 100 selected-response questions and one constructed-response written assignment.

SB 51’s proposed changes would impact teachers beginning in the 2021-2022 school year.

The Senate also passed SB 121 directing local school boards of education to adopt policies allowing school employees who are nursing to have protected breaks to pump. These can run concurrently with other break times. Boards will also be required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private, sanitary room for employees to express milk or nurse their child.

“When I was nursing and teaching school, there were many times where I pumped in school closets and other uncomfortable spaces just so I could make sure my child could eat that night and to maintain my milk supply,” Hicks said. “Research has continually shown the significant health benefits of nursing, but it’s a time-consuming process that requires a comfortable, private and sanitary space for mothers. Last year, we passed a law allowing state employees to breastfeed while at work, and I hope we’ll extend the same privilege to our teachers and other school employees.”

Both bills now move to the House for further consideration. Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh, is the House author of SB 51 and Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, is the House author of SB 121.

For more information, contact:  Sen. Hicks: (405) 521-5543 or [email protected]

 

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