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Oregon Licensure in the Age of COVID-19

By Teresa Ferrer | OEA Staff Liaison to TSPC, Center for Great Public Schools


Let me begin with congratulations to each and every Oregon educator. Despite all that is “behind us or in front of us,” every day, and in every large and small way, you continue to lead with and strive for your true center: the care and keeping of your students and the profession of teaching.

Your voice may sometimes feel silenced but the collective power of what you know and what you advocate for is making a difference in many ways… especially during these times that necessitate a grounding in reality. And, as you demonstrated so boldly in your “Red for Ed” campaign of 2019, no one in the system or profession is closer to the reality of what students need than YOU.

The best statewide or local policy and guidance knows that when allowed to focus on what you need to do for your students and profession, Oregon educators will consistently (and even despite all odds) deliver the best of what lies within them.

The Teachers Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC), led by a group whose majority are working licensed educators, has developed emergency provisions that offers a reprieve for educators who are struggling to complete their Continuing Professional Development requirements. Currently anyone who is renewing their license and their licensure cycle in 2020, has 12 fewer PDUs (Professional Development Units) to complete (63 PDUs for three-year license renewal or 113 PDUs for five-year license renewal). OEA has proposed that TSPC expand and extend this provision for anyone who is renewing with a cycle that includes BOTH this year and the remainder of the ’20-’21 school year. TSPC will be considering this and other provisions that allow teachers to focus on meeting the many challenges of COVID-19 schooling. Stay tuned to OEA announcements about any forthcoming changes and/or sign up for emails of TSPC updates on their website.

Likewise, waiver requests due to COVID-19 restrictions and realities are accepted from Oregon educators who are unable to complete licensure requirements to move out of provisional license status. For detailed description of these emergency provisions, please refer to this TSPC notice: oregon.gov/tspc/covid19/Pages/covid19.aspx.

If you ever need to know more about the latest developments in Oregon licensure or have questions that apply specifically to you and your license, OEA offers you four options from which to choose:

In August 2020, TSPC approved a suite of emergency provisions called Flexibility with Fidelity that maps out in clearly and strictly defined ways, under COVID-19 and the ’20-’21 school year specifically, that licensed educators could be allowed (without a License for Conditional Assignment: LCA or a Restricted License) to teach a subject for which they are not endorsed. OEA and TSPC lobbied heavily to assure the focus would be on “fidelity over flexibility” but, as you can all imagine, there was pressure to give equal if not more focus on ‘flexibility over fidelity”.

The positive aspect of these rules is that it creates a scaffolded way for a district to be accountable to find and place those educators who are most qualified and interested in a mis-assignment but the most dangerous part of these provisions is that, when implemented in bad faith, it could adversely affect anyone who is not voluntarily being mis-assigned. The one-pager with details of these provisions accompanies this article (find "Background on TSPC Temporary Rules for Flexibility with Fidelity for Mis-Assignments" on the OEA website). Make sure that you also create hyperlinks to the three documents that this one-pager references.

As in all things, Oregon educators step up to learn the facts and assert their voice. They appeal to the truth of what students need and the best ways to provide those needs. Exercise your natural inclination to get the best information and answers to your questions. With all that surrounds you, go within. Choose any of the four options above for elevating your ability to navigate any licensure issue and do what you do best: centering the care and keeping of your students and the profession of teaching.

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