OEA Reports Tough Outlook For Teachers, Declining Career Interest

Wednesday, November 10th 2021, 5:43 pm

Mid-Del teachers returned to their Board of Education this week to voice frustration about working conditions.

“We are severely understaffed and having to hear from countless expectations,” said Anna Claywell, a Mid-Del Public Schools teacher. 

She said she wants leadership to come up with creative solutions for overworked staff. 

“I was a teacher in this district, with two different subjects, covering three different grade levels each. Yes, I had six preps to do. One 50-minute planning period,” said Tegan Malone, a former Mid-Del teacher. 

A group of teachers in the Mid-Del district have expressed complaints for months that they do not have the support they need and have threatened to leave. 

“In short, we're burned out to the point that many of us know we won’t be back next school year, and some of us don't know that we’ll make it to until the end of this school year,” said Stephanie Mouse, a teacher at Highland Elementary School. 

Oklahoma Educators Association representatives said they are seeing a long-term decline in teachers entering the field and an increase in teachers leaving the field, due to tough working conditions. 

“They don’t take a vow of poverty. They don’t take a vow to put up with the abuse from legislators and parents and administrators," said Bruce Treadaway, an OEA representative. 

OEA representatives said they have data showing 20% of teachers are emergency certified and 40% are alternatively certified now, which means they have subject matter expertise and completed courses.

About 40% are traditionally certified, meaning they went through an undergraduate program before completing the certification process, said Treadaway. 

This comes as the University of Central Oklahoma warns fewer teachers are entering the field. 

"These teachers need to have higher salaries, and I know that we've had an increase in the recent past, but it’s not competitive enough to keep them interested in the field,” said Bryan Duke, interim dean of the UCO College of Education. 

Duke said another way to incentivize teachers could be supporting their certification process by offering stipends and scholarships.