TPS Sees Increase Of Teachers Leaving District
TULSA, Oklahoma - As the first semester of school comes to a close, one district is losing four times as many teachers this winter compared to the same time last year.
According to Tulsa Public Schools, between November 9th and December 1st of last year, six teachers left. This year, during the same time period, the district has had 25 teachers leave.
"That's more than four times as many teachers, that have left," said vice president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, Shawna Mott-Wright. “It's not just embarrassing it hurts me at my core. It's infuriating."
She's heard from a number of teachers who said since State Question 779 failed, living and teaching here isn't affordable.
"Even though this is my craft, this is what I'm best at, I can't afford to do it anymore," Mott-Wright said.
In a statement TPS Chief Talent Officer Talia Shaull says:
The teacher shortage continues to be an issue for school districts in Oklahoma, and we are always actively hiring for educator positions at Tulsa Public Schools. The reality of being a teacher in our state is that for all the wonder and joy of teaching, these men and women receive abysmally low salaries that make it incredibly difficult for them to get by. In our summer exit surveys, the majority of teachers cited compensation as their reason for leaving the district. There are many reasons that teachers might choose to leave our district – they may be moving to another teaching role, switching to a new field entirely, or retiring, and the failure of state question 779 could be among those considerations.
Mott-Wright said, “And it's not their fault, and it's not our fault. Our legislators need to take care of business."
Tuesday, TPS superintendent, Dr. Deborah Gist met with new Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum for an education summit.
Gist said, "With the failure of State Question 779, and it's been really tough on our teachers. So, I don't think I've been in any meeting where that hasn't come up."
Mott-Wright is challenging lawmakers to live on a third-year TPS teacher's pay after benefits are taken out.
"They need to live off of what a teacher lives off of a day - $4.96, per person, per day if there is two of you," she said.
Mott-Wright also wants parents to push the issue.
"Call them. Bug them. Tell them to get it done, pass a plan," she said.
Last year at TPS, a third-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree made less than $34,000 a year - pre-tax and pre-benefits. Even with 32 years’ experience and a Ph.D., they still make less than $60,000 a year.