Oklahoma Teaching Students May Not Graduate If Schools Shut Down
TULSA, Oklahoma - Due to the possible school shutdown, the graduation of future Oklahoma teachers may be in jeopardy.
Education students at OU-Tulsa may not meet the state requirements for new teachers in time for graduation if teachers walk out.
While OU would like its students to be shadowing a teacher in a classroom for 16 weeks, the state only requires 12 weeks – so there’s a little wiggle room, but not much.
“They are truly concerned they won’t be able to graduate,” said Dr. Vickie Lake.
Lake is an early childhood education professor. She says the mood in her classes has been tense.
“The respect for education in general, and the respect for public education, is really at one of the lowest point I’ve seen,” stated Lake.
And the path to graduation could get bumpy. Conversations are taking place with the state board of education to come up with a plan if students don’t get the required hands-on training.
“I don’t’ even know they know what that pathway is because we don’t know how long the strike might last,” said Lake. “We’ve been assured that students’ best interests are at heart.”
Lake says one thing is clear, even with the uncertainty, her students want to teach.
“None of our students have lost their enthusiasm to be a teacher,” declared Lake.
Laura Latta, a teacher at Union, is working towards a Ph.D. in education, along with a handful of other teachers.
“I’m very committed to making a difference in the state and, hopefully, somehow have an impact so that education can be restored,” said Latta. “There are about nine of us – TPS, BA, Union, Jenks, all the surrounding districts. None of us want to leave.”
They all plan on graduating, staying in Oklahoma, and teaching our next generation of kids.
Lake believes “it’s a good time to be a teacher in Oklahoma and know that you’re all fighting for the same thing. At the same time, it’s a sad time to be a teacher in Oklahoma to know it’s come to this point.”
OU-Tulsa says that, while there’s a 15% decrease in those going into education around the country, their program has seen as 11% boost in interest, thanks to incentives and scholarships.