TULSA, Okla. — The lack of college students going into teaching is a growing concern for some Oklahoma state representatives. Now some legislators are working on bills to restore our teacher pipeline.
Rep. John Waldren (D) says if we don’t address this issue soon we may have a serious shortage of teachers in a few years.
He says there are not enough incentives for college students to go into teaching and many are intimidated by the lack of pay. State legislators voted to increase teacher pay in 2018 and in 2019, bringing us closer to the regional average, but it’s still not enough to restore the state’s teacher pipeline.
Class sizes also remain high, making it more challenging for teachers to be successful. According to a survey by the Nation’s Report Card, Oklahoma ranks significantly lower than the national average in overall education among K-12 grades. Waldren says that shouldn’t fall on Oklahoma teachers but rather the environment they’re faced to work in.
“It’s time to change the narrative about careers in education. We got to change the way politicians talk about teachers. We got to talk about our public schools and we got to give our teachers the tools and the access they need to have rich and fulfilling careers,” Rep. Waldren said.
Representative Waldren pitched one House bill, which would have updated the state’s teacher certification process, but it did not advance further than the house. His next bill won’t be seen until the 2022 legislative session.
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