Sept. 8, 2021

Two Signs the Teacher Shortage is Worsening

In this Feb. 11, 2020 file photo, kindergarten teacher Michelle Brooks works on sounding out letters with her class at Nichols Hills Elementary School in Oklahoma City. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

Good morning readers. Last week, Oklahoma Watch published data on the record number of emergency certified teachers in classrooms this year. Emergency certificates allow schools to hire people with at least a bachelor’s degree to fill a classroom teaching position. Often they have no formal training in teaching. Sometimes they are just certified in a different subject area.

The number — 2,673 since June — is a clear sign that there aren’t enough teachers.

Another sign: summertime teacher retirements are up 38% compared to last year, according to a story in the Tulsa World. Some of that was expected; it has been three years since since teachers received a significant pay raise and the salary of the three highest years in a teacher’s career is what is used to calculate benefits. But that’s does not appear to be the driving force behind it.

Listening to teachers, it’s clear they are suffering from major burnout and a lack of respect.

Take Rebecca Harris who, according to the Tulsa World, described her experience: “The final sign came in December 2020 when a student’s parent flipped me the bird in a Zoom class.”

Or Jami Cole, a teacher in Duncan I talked to recently, who told me “I literally feel disposable.”

I want to hear from you. How can we improve teacher retention and morale? As always, email and DMs open. Have a good week.

— Jennifer Palmer

Oklahoma’s Ban on School Mask Mandates is on Hold. Here’s What You Need to Know

School districts can institute mask requirement on school campuses soon, as long as the mandate [Read more…]

Oklahoma Starts Year With Its Most Emergency Teachers On Record

The 2,673 approved for this school year surpasses the August totals for any other year. [Read more… ]

What I’m Reading

  • The pandemic’s impact on children with special needs could be lifelong. [The Oklahoman]
  • Across the country, these photos document a “surreal” return to classrooms amid delta’s surge. [The 74]
  • A survey digs into how schools are spending COVID-19 relief dollars. [NPR]
  • The tragedy of America’s rural schools. [The New York Times]
  • A state Board of Education member writes he’s very concerned about recent sex abuse cases in schools. [The Oklahoman]

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