OKC Teachers talk about violence, Pathway to Greatness issues and overall climate of schools in survey

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers’ annual survey is out and teachers did not hold back on their opinions.

“Behavior and teacher time are still the big issues,” President of OKC AFT Ed Allen said.

About 800 out of 2,600 teachers responded.

44% of teachers said behavior issues have increased in the classroom.

While 45% of the teachers surveyed say student welfare and school climate has declined.

This year, AFT added questions about Pathway to Greatness.

“I was a bit surprised on Pathway to Greatness. A lot of negative comments about that,”

One teacher said, “P2G has created a hostile environment at our middle school. Fights have escalated.”

Another said, “P2G has ruined the few good schools in OKCPS. It is the death knell of public education in OKC.”

And a teacher also said, “P2G is not working. School climate here is a joke.”

Other teachers commented on the hostile environment with students.

A teacher wrote, “Violence is a huge problem. I wish I could gripe about cell phones turning students into zombies, but I’m too busy breaking up fights.”

Meanwhile, another teacher wrote, “Staff is in danger and there probably will be an incident due to the lax in discipline and/or refusal to discipline to help increase numbers or to just hide and make things look ‘good.’ Smoke and mirrors.”

There were also positive comments like, “I feel like our school climate and student welfare have improved since I have been there, however, staff climate is more stressful than it has been since I have been at this school,” and “Things have been a tad rough, but that was expected, and we are making good headway.”

“We know by just being in the buildings that many of those comments came from the middle schools,” Allen said.

You’ll remember the Pathway to Greatness plan closed 15 schools and reconfigured 17 others. The goal is to save money, reduce class sizes and invest in other resources like supplies and transportation.

Superintendent Dr. Sean Mcdaniel sent a statement to News 4 saying,

“All information is good information. District leaders are closely examining the survey data, along with the feedback we regularly gather directly from our valued educators via my Teacher Advisory Committee, our school site visits, and other one-on-one interactions with OKCPS staff. We deeply appreciate our partnership with Mr. Allen and his team at AFT, and I look forward to working closely with them in the days ahead.”

John Thompson retired from teaching at John Marshall High School in 2010. He believes this survey shows behavioral issues are getting worse.

“I thought their comments were perceptive. I’m afraid they’re all too accurate,” John Thompson, former OKCPS teacher, said.

He believes Pathway to Greatness loaded teachers with too much work too fast.

“I think they overreached, created an impossibly long list for administrators and when that happens, an impossibly long to-do list gets dumped on teachers,” Thompson said.

A glimpse into teachers’ thoughts on Pathway to Greatness.

Click here for more information about Pathway to Greatness.

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