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Oklahoma teachers leaving state in droves; emergency certifications skyrocket

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Oklahoma is last in the region in starting teacher pay.
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The end of summer is in sight and it’s almost time for to go back to school. With our current state of education in Oklahoma, it is no doubt that parents and teachers alike are wondering how this school year will go. According to the Oklahoma Education Coalition, Oklahoma would have to spend $1.3 billion a year to meet the regional average of student investment.

According to the Coalition, between 2010 and 2015 more teachers left Oklahoma than entered.

“I would receive a $10,000 pay raise for moving out of state,” said Elizabeth Usrey, a teacher from Oklahoma who moved to Nevada for better career opportunities. “My district offered a bonus to teach at a title one school. They also offer many different professional development opportunities. I've been accepted into a master's program through a partnership with CCSD and UNLV.”

Donna Elliott, a seasoned Oklahoma teacher, echoed this reality saying,  “Each of the 4 core departments- English, history, math, and science- have lost a teacher in the past two years.  That means larger class sizes, which is not ideal for students."

"I also spend more of my own money for basic supplies like paper clips, pens, Kleenex, etc.  We can see the effect of the economy on students, too.  Several of my colleagues and I have started a "food closet," of sorts.  Many students don't have money for lunch, yet their family income is too high to get free or reduced lunches.  We keep microwavable food like macaroni and cheese.  I remind students periodically about my food closet, where, no questions asked, they are free to get something for lunch.  Even if they happened to forget their lunch for the day, they're welcome to get something.  My fellow teachers and I decided that we just aren't going to let kids go hungry...not if we can help it!”

However, it is not all gloom in Oklahoma classrooms, Elliott mentioned that her school district would be introducing Chromebooks to the students starting this school year. “When I first started, there were no computers...hard to believe!  Students used to write notes to each other; now they text.  I kind of miss the days of note writing.  At least they were getting writing practice, ” she teases.

The Chromebooks will largely replace textbooks and will allow students to keep up with their homework when absent.

During this crisis, schools are sending in as many teachers as possible to fill the gaps of teachers who left. In the 2011- 2012 school year, 32 emergency certifications were granted in Oklahoma. During the 2016 – 2017 school year the number has skyrocketed to 1,160 according to the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

To help a teacher, you can visit www.oklahomansforteachers.com for ways to do so.

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Chelsea Copeland

Chelsea Copeland is a native Oklahoman, born in Tulsa and raised in Coweta. She graduated from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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