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Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage

Oklahoma needs teachers who specialize in science and English, but low salaries have new teachers looking outside the state for jobs.
Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage

Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage

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Show 1637: Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage
Air Date: September 11, 2016



Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. The start of the school year has been a rough one for many school districts around the state -- more than 1,500 teaching positions and an additional 1300 support staff jobs all eliminated due to state budget cuts. Earlier this summer, we talked with some new want-to-be teachers, straight out of college and still looking for work. And what they told us? Well, it wasn’t encouraging.

Wait til this summer, wait til July, we’ll see. I keep hoping that the money will come through and I keep thinking that in August they’ll be desperate for teachers again, so that’s what I keep telling myself.

Rob: Yet despite the difficulty of some finding a job, Oklahoma still has a teacher shortage. Since the end of school last year, the state board has approved 730 emergency certificates for prospective teachers with their bachelors’, but not the right subject matter certifications. According to a survey done by the Oklahoma State School Board Association, more than half of school leaders say hiring teachers was more difficult this year than compared to last year, while a full half of all Oklahoma school districts expect to increase class size this year. At the same time 34 percent of the superintendents surveyed say they will be forced to limit their class offerings this school year. And it’s a problem magnified by three growing trends, not enough teachers specializing in science and English and too many experienced teachers leaving the profession altogether or just going to another state for more money.