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Thousands of State’s Educators Lose Jobs to Budget Cuts Despite Persisting Teacher Shortage

Thousands of State’s Educators Lose Jobs to Budget Cuts Despite Persisting Teacher Shortage

A recent survey found that at least 2,800 public school jobs were lost to budget cuts, and yet many of Oklahoma’s students will be taught by teachers who obtained emergency teaching certificates this school year.

Despite laying off hundreds of school teachers, the state is still in need of 500 teachers, forcing more than half of districts to look into emergency teaching certifications to fill vacancies.

The survey, conducted by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, found that Oklahoma’s teacher shortage problem is getting worse year after year due to both budget cuts and a failure to make the teaching profession attractive to both recruits and recent hires.

As a result, 34 percent of school leaders said their schools will likely be forced to offer fewer courses this school year and nearly half of respondents said class sizes are likely to increase.

In response to the survey results, "OSSBA has called for a long-term funding strategy for public education that increases teacher compensation so that it's regionally competitive, provides adequate resources for students and rebuilds the teacher pipeline — possibly through the launch of a scholarship or loan forgiveness plan for future educators,” according to Tulsa World.

Tulsa Public Schools told Tulsa World that while it has successfully hired enough teachers for this upcoming school year, the task was significantly more difficult compared to last year as the district saw a 30 percent decline in its applicant pool.

Shawn Hime, executive director of OSSBA, discussed the negative effects of relying on emergency teaching certificates to teach students.

"People who have never trained a day as a teacher are now responsible for teaching elementary school students how to read and do math. We have high school students who can't take Spanish because their school can't find a teacher...This is what it looks like when a state fails its schools and its children,” Himes said to Tulsa World.

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

8/22/2016

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