teachers

We're doing things by the numbers this week in our weekly roundup of all things education.

167 of 1,113 public schools in Puerto Rico are open

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The state set a new record today for the number of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma classrooms.

The State Board of Education approved 574 new emergency certifications, bringing this year’s total to about 1,400.

Last year, there were 1,160 emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma. Five years ago there were 32.

Schools ask for permission to hire emergency certified teachers after proving they could not find anyone with traditional qualifications.

Flickr / wfryer

A new survey shows what many state leaders feared: Oklahoma’s teacher shortage is getting worse.

As of August 1, there were still 500 unfilled teaching positions across the state. That's according to a survey conducted by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

Shawn Hime, the Executive Director of the OSSBA, says his agency talked to more than 300 school districts in order to complete the survey.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma schools are becoming more and more reliant on teachers with no training.

A lack of school funding, low pay, and waning morale have driven many of the experienced teachers out of the classroom, or out of the state.

Superintendent of Mid-Del Schools, Rick Cobb, said he used to have 10 to 15 applicants for every open teaching position. Now he’s lucky if he has two.

“You want to know you’re picking the best person that you can, and that’s hard to do now with the super shallow pool of applicants,” he said.

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The State Board of Education approved 631 emergency teaching certifications at Thursday’s board meeting, which is nearly double what the board had approved at this time last year. It brings the total number of emergency certifications to 850 for the 2017-18 school year.

Compare that to last July, when the board had issued a total of 381 emergency teaching certifications, a record number at the time.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says August is typically when most of the requests for emergency certifications come in, so the number is expected to grow.

Teachers have one of the lowest-paid professional jobs in the U.S. You need a bachelor's degree, which can be costly — an equation that often means a lot of student loans. We've reported on the factors that make this particular job even more vulnerable to a ton of debt, including chronically low teacher pay, the increasing pressure to get a master's degree and the many ways to repay loans or apply for loan forgiveness.

About exactly a year ago we brought you the story of Shawn Sheehan, Oklahoma's 2016 Teacher of the Year.

At the time, he and about 40 other educators were running for office in the state, wanting to make a change because, as Sheehan puts it, lawmakers weren't prioritizing education. Funding for schools in the state has been cut tremendously over the past decade and teachers in Oklahoma are some of the lowest paid in the country.

okcps.org

The Oklahoma City Public School Board of Education meeting was packed with angry community members on Monday night.

Many people in the crowd felt the district was being dishonest about a proposal to close a local elementary school.

Last Wednesday, OKCPS administrators released information about their proposal to close North Highlands Elementary in northeast Oklahoma City, just five days before the school board was set to vote on it.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

The promise of a teacher pay raise seemed real this year, like lawmakers were actually going to get it done. But, they didn’t. And so, once again, some teachers are packing their bags in search of more money elsewhere. However, one teacher is asking them to stay in Oklahoma, and keep fighting.

This year’s legislative session began with high hopes of a teacher pay raise.

Governor Mary Fallin stressed the need for one in her February State of the State speech, and lawmakers put multiple pay raise plans on the table.

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