Education leaders asking for state help in recognition of teacher shortage

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OKLAHOMA -- State education leaders are calling it "unprecedented collaboration."

A report was released Thursday involving dozens of school administrators and board members giving their solutions to improve education.

"So that we can be certain that those laws that are passed, those policies that are set, will actually have meaningful improvement for student outcome," Joy Hofmeister, State schools Superintendent said.

With a group of smiling students behind her at the State Capitol, Hofmeister called on lawmakers to embrace a vision for Oklahoma education called "For the People: A Vision for Oklahoma Public Education."

"Presenting solutions instead of complaining," Hofmeister said. "We want to act on evidence, not anecdote or perception."

With more than 800 teaching vacancies across the state, addressing the teacher shortage is at the top of the list.

Hofmeister will ask the legislature for a $5,000 teacher pay raise, five more days of paid instruction, and a long-term funding plan that will allow districts to plan for the future.

"There must be a plan to achieve what will bring the best results for students," she said, "and that is making the investment in education a priority, and having the will and bold leadership to accomplish that plan."

Local recommendations in the report include more personalized learning opportunities, after-school programs, and public-private partnerships.

But the state's priority remains clear.

"Our biggest issue is our teacher shortage," Shawn Hime, Executive Director of Oklahoma State School Boards Association, said. "Big picture, recruiting people into colleges of education, and once they go through colleges of education, keeping them in Oklahoma."

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