A new survey from an Oklahoma education group says the state's teacher shortage has reached "extraordinary" levels as school districts seek to fill about 1,000 open teaching positions. Those same districts have eliminated about 600 teaching jobs despite growing enrollment and are requesting a record number of emergency teaching certificates, according to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
Over 180 emergency certificates were granted last month alone, and the state says they're considering nearly 500 more.
The group's director, Shawn Hime, said students are suffering from the state's refusal to pay teachers a competitive wage.
“Saying we don’t have the money for teacher pay raises is no longer an acceptable excuse,” Hime said in a news release. Hime said increasing class sizes and undertrained new teachers are adding to the negative impact on students.
Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister commented on the teacher shortage survey:
"The OSSBA survey confirms what we have all suspected, that the teacher shortage has worsened significantly," she said. "The shortage has meant the elimination of teaching positions, increased class sizes and the slashing of class offerings. We are shortchanging our schoolchildren each day we fail to take bold action."
OSSBA conducted the survey during the first two weeks of August. Districts representing about 80 percent of the state’s public school enrollment participated. Among other survey findings:
Hime said efforts are being made to raise the cap on how much retired teachers can make when returning to the classroom.
The group also recommends the state work to: