OWASSO – As Oklahoma continues to see a shortage of qualified educators to take teaching positions in the state, one legislator says that he is standing ready to do what it takes to keep good teachers from leaving.
Before you get to fleeing teachers, you have to rewind to Monday when a number of educators descended on the Oklahoma State Capitol to lobby for pay raises. Several thousand were reported in attendance to support a campaign that would ask for $5,000 increases in educator pay.
“Our kids can’t wait any longer. Teacher shortage is real. We know our teachers must take care of their own families and are sacrificing to take care of yours and mine.” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told educators gathered. “The teacher shortage is known throughout this state & country and it is shameful.”
But now, neighboring states like Arkansas are taking advantage of disgruntled professionals seeking greener pastures. Some departures are notable, like the recent departure of Oolagah Head Football Coach Brandon Craig for a program at border town Siloam Springs. But others, like an elementary or middle school teacher don’t make the spotlight.
According to one advocate for educators, the Natural State isn’t backing off either. Hayley Jones, who serves as Deputy General Counsel for the Cooperative Council For School Administration said Wednesday on Twitter that a large Arkansas school district had asked her organization as recently as Tuesday to post their job vacancies on their website.
“Until the Oklahoma legislature funds a teacher pay raise and restores per-pupil cuts, calls like these may be the only realistic “better plan” for Oklahoma teachers.” Jones noted.
After seeing her note on Twitter, Senator J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso) told his followers that he wants to put a stop to the outflow of good educators.
“We’ve lost teachers every year to Northwest Arkansas from Owasso High School. Partisan rhetoric ain’t gonna solve our problems.” Dossett said. “Serious long-term investment in our education system by a group with common sense is our only hope to end this crisis. I stand ready to be part of the solution.”
The state Superintendent is hopeful that more legislators like Dossett will hear her message loud and clear.
“We have an opportunity today for greatness.” Hofmeister noted. “We have an opportunity today for statesmen to lead from the Capitol building and do the right thing.”