Oklahoma Teacher Turnover Higher Than Most States
TULSA, Oklahoma - A new report from the State Department of Education says 10% of Oklahoma's teachers have quit the profession in the last six years. That's higher than the national average of seven percent and some former teachers say it's only partly because of pay.
John Croisant is one of the newest Allstate insurance agents in Tulsa, but he's also a certified, experienced teacher who left the classroom. "The financial aspect of it, we got a pay raise" says Croisant, "but it's only going to be this much, for 20 years. It's a calling and not something we're doing for the money but still, we have to take care of our families."
Croisant says his pay increased dramatically when he quit teaching and became an insurance agent. he says the decision came down to a combination of more students, more work, and pay that wasn't competitive, even after the pay raise.
He's one of the 5,000 Oklahoma teachers, on average, who quit the profession each year. The State Department of Education report also warns the pipeline of newly teachers entering the profession is drying up.
Croisant said he believes the fight for a raise, the loss of support workers and the decline of funding for classroom supplies discouraged many teachers - who simply want to be able to help students. "It's not that people don't want to be teachers, it's that can we be teachers, can we do the things we're called to do."
The State Legislature's Democratic Caucus responded to the report today with a call for more funding - and more respect for teachers to turn around trend.
Minority Leader Emily Virgin of Norman said “Nobody wants to work in an environment that is understaffed and overcrowded. Throw in a few lawmakers that want to work harder to silence teachers than listen to them, and it is easy to see why teachers are leaving. We must restore funding to education, and we must reestablish respect for the teaching profession."