In response to Governor Kevin Stitt’s announcement on January 18 that said employees can substitute in any public school in Oklahoma, Tulsa Public Schools said it is welcoming all the help it can get right now to keep schools open.
The Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association said it is appreciative of the governor's "out of the box thinking."
They said there are still questions about exactly how this is going to work.
In a statement, TCTA Vice President LeeAnne Jimenez said: “While we are appreciative of the out of the box thinking that the Governor mentioned this afternoon, we need to be mindful that multiple departments are experiencing shortages right now. There are so many questions, still, to be answered. We wonder if the Governor or his staff have checked in with the State Department of Education. Is there a backlog on background checks? How quick is the turnaround? Additionally, we are curious as to why in-person learning is the sticking point with the Governor. Does he really believe that quality instruction can happen with the limited number of substitutes that his executive order will produce? Broken Arrow alone had over 700 employees out last week. Will the number of state employees available cover that? There's solutions to a problem, and this solution is about one minor piece of the major shortage in education we had before the pandemic hit.”
The governor said substitutes could be in classrooms as early as January 19, but districts are still trying to understand how that could happen.
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Deborah Gist, welcomes all the help the district can get.
"It's been all hands on deck for months and months and months and people are really exhausted,” Dr. Gist said. “So anything that can happen that will give us extra hands is very welcome. And we can't do this alone. We really need the whole community to come together."
Jenks Public Schools released this statement Tuesday: “At Jenks Public Schools, we appreciate anyone who is willing to be a substitute teacher and we are so grateful to the members of our community who have already stepped up to serve as substitutes. Asking state employees to substitute could be helpful, but there are still unanswered questions about how volunteers will be mobilized to districts across the state. Teachers are not a disposable resource. Teachers are highly qualified professionals, and they cannot simply be replaced. At JPS, in-person learning has always been the priority, and we believe a professional educator is still the most effective leader for a classroom.”