THE METRO, Okla. (KFOR) – With less than week left until the new school year begins, Metro school districts are still trying to fill teacher vacancies.

The nationwide teacher shortage is nothing new, but schools districts told KFOR it continues to get “harder and harder” to find qualified educators.

Yukon High School teacher, Dusty Crabtree said many educators are leaving the classroom because “there’s just a general feeling of not being appreciated, not feeling like the government or people think we’re worth it.”

Crabtree said Yukon High School had two “prominent” English teachers leave the district and those positions were filled in late July.

Yukon High School reports having three teaching positions left to fill. News 4 asked how many vacancies they had after he previous school year, but we have not heard back.

Crabtree said she, along with teachers are overloaded with work, overwhelmed, and frustrated. “It’s just hard to want to come back,” she added.

But Crabtree comes back because she’s excited to teach and loves her students. She said she’s trying to stay positive.

Crabtree currently has 34 students enrolled in her first period, which she said is the second highest number of students she’s taught at once. The highest being 35.

“Most of our classes are 30 or over. The vast majority, at least a freshman. We have a huge freshman class this year. I have 34, 30 and 33 in my English classes,” said Crabtree.

Crabtree told KFOR it’s difficult to have that many kids in one class, that it’s impossible to form a relationship with them because she’s focused on keeping their attention and teaching.

“It causes behavior problems. It’s hard for them to pay attention because so many of them can be distracting. There’s a higher chance of them not being able to pay attention and because of that, my lesson is all chopped up,” said Crabtree.

Yukon Public Schools isn’t the only district struggling to find teachers though.

News 4 reached out to nine districts to see where they’re at on teacher vacancies. For those who did not respond, those numbers were pulled from their job listing site.

  • Oklahoma City Public Schools has 84 teacher vacancies today. As of July 26, they had 133.
  • Enid Public Schools has four teacher vacancies.
  • Mustang Public Schools has eight teacher vacancies.
  • Guthrie Public Schools has one teacher vacancy after a teacher resigned yesterday.
  • Bethany Public Schools have zero teacher vacancies.
  • Yukon Public Schools has three teacher vacancies.
  • Edmond Public Schools has been 20 and 30 teacher vacancies.
  • According to Norman Public Schools’ job listings, they have 31 teacher vacancies.
  • According to Moore Public Schools’ job listings, they have 34 teacher vacancies.

Bethany Public Schools Superintendent, Drew Eichelberger said, “It has been the most challenging year we have experienced with respect o certified teachers for those positions.”

Eichelberger said there are less qualified teachers to choose from, but there are just not enough to fill the need.

The Oklahoma Education Association President, Katherine Bishop said it also comes down to respect.

“It comes from disrespect, from the community, from leaders, from all over and people want to be in a profession that they feel respected,” said Bishop.

“Lack of respect is the #1 reason….teachers are not respected as professionals….parents override our decisions, admin backs up parents rather than support teachers, student behavior is swept under the rug, no one is held accountable for anything except the teacher….we have state standards and state testing that students are not accountable for…..they don’t have to learn it yet are allowed to move on (truancy is huge recently yet no one wants to talk about it),” said a Norman Middle School Math Teacher who doesn’t want to be named.

She told KFOR it’s been very hard on her, especially the last two years. “COVID made everything so much worse,” she said.

She said she plans to enroll in a Master’s degree program so that she can transition out of public school teaching.

Bishop said it’s about surrounding the educators with support.

Bishop added the teacher shortage has been going on for nearly a decade, but claimed Oklahoma pays educators much lower than surrounding states.

To combat the teacher shortage, Bishop said there needs to be more funding. “We have $2.8 billion in savings. We need to see education as a workforce and one of the largest industries in our state and that’s where we have to invest,” she added.

Both Bishop and Crabtree said to restore public education though, it could take millions of dollars.

Bishop said it’s not just a lack of teachers though. Bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and food service workers are also in a shortage.