OPINION: Allowing 18 year olds to be substitute teachers is not the way to go

YetThe COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of stress over the past couple of years. A large group that has been affected by this stress are teachers. Right now, the U.S. is in high demand for teachers. In 2021, many teachers and substitute teachers have decided to resign because of low pay, high risk, and disrespect from students, parents of students, and their districts.

Because of the high demand for substitute teachers in the Wichita school district, the district unanimously decided to let anyone 18 years or older with a high school diploma substitute teach through June 1 of this year. 

I do not think is a great idea. There is a lot of training involved in becoming a teacher — let alone a substitute teacher. Many 18 year old’s who have just graduated high school either have very little to no experience when it comes to teaching.

 I am 17, with only high school diploma. I have some experience in teaching as a coach and director at a summer camp. I also have some teaching experience in martial arts. Those experiences still would not qualify me as “teaching material.” I am not saying that I did not enjoy those jobs or helping out, because I did. Both jobs were fun. However, what I am saying is that, those may look good on resumes but I still would not have enough requirements or the certification to teach a class. 

I asked two teachers who I am close with and both feel that the new rule is ridiculous. One teacher told me the situation is complicated because of the sub shortage in the district. He also told me that the change looks really bad on the surface. 

He has told me that the change will not help much with the shortage because of the process it takes to get a teaching license. Another point this teacher made is that high school students will not respect or listen to an 18 year old. As someone who has worked with kids, I can see this being a huge problem. 

This can be a huge problem because some 18 year old’s may try to become friends with other 18 year old’s or befriend high school students in general and these students will not respect them like they should because most 18 year old’s do not have the maturity level for a job like substitute teaching. 

Another point this teacher made is that some teenagers may be subbing in schools for the wrong reasons. An example he gave me was that he could imagine some 18 year old boys thinking that this is a good way to meet girls.

Overall, letting 18 year old’s who just graduated High school substitute teach is not the best way to go. I am aware they have to have background checks and have other requirements met besides having a high school diploma but, the best way to solve this issue is to reconsider remote schooling. While remote schooling is not ideal and it’s much better to keep kids in school, it would be better to post assignments on Google Classroom and not have daily zoom meetings, than to sit in a classroom with a sub and not do anything at all. 

This would teach kids and teenagers responsibility and accountability and it would help them prepare for the real world. The future’s uncertain and unfortunately, we do not know if this will get any better but we can prepare kids, teenagers, and young adults for what will come in the near future.