Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association VP Says Changes Must Be Made To State's Education System
TULSA, Oklahoma - With teachers pouring out of Oklahoma, the state has already issued more than 600 emergency certifications with more likely to come this month.
"It's heartbreaking that we no longer have enough people coming into the profession,” said Shawna Mott-Wright, vice president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.
Keeping teachers at Tulsa Public Schools has also been a challenge. At the end of the year in June of 2016, 189 resigned. In June of this year, 292 resigned. That’s more than 100 more in the same month one year later.
“It scared me as an educator, it scares me as a mother, but it scares me as a Tulsan,” said Mott-Wright.
TPS says it still must fill 40 open teaching positions before August 21st.
Mott-Wright says lawmakers aren't listening.
"It's a lack of respect and a lack of understanding that we are professionals," she said.
Low pay, more mandates, less time, more kids and fewer teachers are all things Mott-Wright says are hurting the future of Oklahoma.
"This is your economy, this is your public safety, this is your transportation, like, it should scare you it should bother you,” she stated.
She added that even if pay is adequate, overcoming outcomes-driven teacher evaluations will still keep teachers from staying.
"Things like No Child Left Behind and all the reforms, no, we're hurting kids,” she said.
She feels teachers should be critiqued on student performance, outside of just a test and hopes others don't leave before Oklahoma does something about it.
"It's a miracle that those of us that are left are still left,” she added.
Mott-Wright hopes lawmakers will address the budget much sooner this year to work out adequate funding for schools and wants teachers to be included during the state's process when deciding curriculum and educational standards.