Teacher Pay, Education Funding Cited as Primary Reasons Oklahoma Teachers Leave the Classroom

The two main reasons why Oklahoma teachers are leaving the classroom in a new survey are the same as we’ve heard anecdotally for a while; teacher pay and education funding. The Oklahoma State Department of Education released the findings on Monday which also indicated a way out of the teacher shortage.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister pointed out that 31 percent of the respondents indicated they would likely return to the classroom if teacher pay were increased.

“As our state continues suffering the effects of an unprecedented teacher shortage, Oklahoma cannot afford to ignore the results of this survey,” Hofmeister said. “Pay is no cure-all to staving off this shortage, but without regionally competitive compensation, we are trying to win a home run contest with one arm held behind our back.”

The Teacher Shortage Task Force recommended performing the survey to ask inactive teachers who have active certificates why they left the classroom and other related questions. The Oklahoma Public School Resource Center (OPSRC) funded the survey. It hired Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates to conduct the questioning this fall.

“It was important to partner with OSDE on this project, which has important implications for all education stakeholders,” said Brent Bushey, executive director of OPSRC. “Funding a survey of this scope would have been a challenge for OSDE, and we wanted to step up to make it happen.”

One of the more troubling findings is that special education and secondary teachers were the largest percentage of those who said pay was a primary reason for leaving.

“We have raised academic standards and expectations to give our students a competitive edge. We have a strong eight-year plan in place for education, but all of it depends on having well-supported teachers for our kids,” Hofmeister said. “It is also alarming that our special education teachers are particularly pay sensitive, which does not bode well for serving our students with the greatest needs.”

It also seems younger teachers were more concerned about pay than older teachers. The survey found 48 percent of respondents 18-24, 37 percent of those 24-24 and 36 percent of those 35-44 would return to the classroom if teacher pay was increased. A total of 31 percent of all demographics said they would return to teaching in Oklahoma if the pay was better.

“While the survey reveals that a number of factors attribute to the teacher shortage,” said Hofmeister, “it also confirms that increasing teacher pay is the single most effective first step to reducing the crisis and perhaps even convincing teachers who have left the field to return.”

You can download the Teacher Survey Report here.

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  1. castor, 23 January, 2018

    Three things to observe here:
    1. Each school district sets its own pay scale. Some districts pay $4,000-$5,000 more across the board than the state minimum[which over 300 districts follow.] Most of the defections are from those that follow the state minimum.
    2. Good teachers would stay if they could make more than their mediocre colleagues.
    3. Charter schools can pay according to merit. There a virtual charter that is paying a special ed teacher just over $100,000. Teachers should check this out.


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