POLITICAL GATHERING: Public, candidates want to do more for teachers | news

Two independent investigative journalism outlets, Oklahoma Watch and The Frontier, recently reported that Gov. Kevin Stitt is withholding $18 million in federal coronavirus relief aid earmarked for education. Many Cherokee County residents want the money to be put to good use and want to find solutions to solve the teacher shortage.

Charles Arnall, a Democrat running for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, District 4, has been in education for 35 years. A former high school principal in Chouteau, he returned to the classroom last year to better witness firsthand the types of challenges teachers face. Currently, he is a math teacher at Grand View School.

“Education has changed significantly in the last 20 years, and it is much more difficult than ever to be a teacher. Between teaching, class preparation, reporting, lunch service, recess service, extracurricular responsibilities, including extracurriculars, including parent-teacher nights, teachers are burning themselves out Arnall said.

He said it is not uncommon for young teachers to leave the profession due to stress. One of the main challenges is that teachers do not have enough time to prepare lessons and do not spend as much time with students because they need time to present reports.

“It would be great if we could hire staff to help teachers with their paperwork and reports. An assistant for four or five classrooms would do,” said Arnall.

He believes more recess and lunch aides would allow teachers a much-needed break from work.

State Rep. Bob Ed Culver, R-Tahlequah, said it’s important to support teachers. He said the Oklahoma Legislature has taken great strides to close the wage gap between Oklahoma and other states. In 2018, lawmakers passed a bill that increased teacher salaries, but teacher shortages remain rife across the state.

“It would be a good idea to raise the salary of teachers, especially those who have taught for two or three years. We want to give them an incentive to stay in the field,” Culver said.

He also recommended paying moving expenses for teachers who live out of state, as has been done in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dell Barnes, vice chairman of the Cherokee Democratic Party, said that despite recent pay increases, teachers still experience below-average compensation.

“Educators are not lining up to teach in Oklahoma because of low pay and an aggressive government working against the state’s public schools,” he said. “The governor and the Legislature must prioritize education funding and should cease their attacks on curriculum and school districts.”

Barnes was referring to HB 1775, signed into law in May 2021, which many have criticized as a blanket attempt to ban the teaching of many topics related to race, without specifically referring to critical race theory , which is not usually taught in middle or elementary school. schools

In a Daily Press Saturday forum on August 13, readers were asked what could be done to solve the teacher shortage.

Grand View educator and TDP columnist Brent T. Been said it’s important to repeal bills like HB 1775.

“The Tulsa school district was recently de-accredited with a warning about some silly violation of this state House bill, which is nothing more than a continuation of the ridiculous Republican culture wars. This does nothing to “Oklahoma is a very attractive state in terms of retaining the number of teachers in Oklahoma,” Been said. “Why is the Oklahoma GOP so interested in punitive measures, instead of improving public schools? Arbitrary and draconian laws like this on state statutes are only hurting public education.”

Cathy Cott agrees.

“Stop threatening to revoke teachers’ certifications for teaching the truth about historical events. Stop imposing your religious principles on public school systems. Repeal HB 1775. Stop treating educators as the enemy. Stop of blaming teachers for every failure in the state of Oklahoma.Education system.The Oklahoma legislature and governors have been destroying public education for at least 12 years.A mechanic can’t fix an engine without the right tools. Teachers also can’t teach kids without the right tools. Why would anyone want to. be a teacher in Oklahoma?” she said

Cheryl Leeds thinks teachers deserve a pay rise.

“Teachers should be paid the same hourly rate as psychiatrists and therapists: $75-$175 per hour. The disrespect Oklahoma lawmakers are showing Oklahoma teachers is disgusting,” Leeds said.

Tracy Norwood thinks Oklahoma could increase pension plans for educators.

“Rebates are great, but how about eliminating out-of-state pension taxes for those who want to come to Oklahoma to teach? A much better incentive,” Norwood said.

The Cherokee County Republican Party was reached for comment but did not respond by press time.

what you said

In a TDP poll, readers were asked if they thought the Legislature should do more to encourage teachers to become teachers or stay in Oklahoma. Seventy-four percent said they absolutely should do more, 11% said they probably should do more, 11% said they absolutely shouldn’t do more, and 4% said they probably wouldn’t should do more

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