By Jeff Harrison
A state lawmaker from Midwest City is looking into how the state trains and recruits new teachers as part of an interim study.
State Rep. Kelly Albright and Rep. John Waldron are leading the study on new teacher training.
“We want to examine current practices for teacher training, identify gaps, and find ways to encourage new teachers to enter the profession since we still see a huge lag in enrollment in colleges of education,” Albright said.
The teaching profession is facing many challenges including a spike in teacher retirements related to COVID and the teacher raise of 2018, increasing diversity of public school populations, and the problems associated with distance learning and digital access.
Albright said the study will examine how schools are responding to these challenges, and possible legislation to support these efforts.
The study will touch on topics including: future demands for teachers and retirements in 2020, how teachers are being prepared for demands of the modern classroom and COVID-19, recruitment priorities in the Oklahoma Association of Colleges for Teachers of Education schools, and the effectiveness of incentive programs for teachers.
Albright and Waldron are both former educators and have worked closely together on education issues.
“We thought his [Waldron’s] longstanding experience in the classroom paired with my more recent experience in teacher training and being a young professional would match well together,” Albright said. “We both feel passionately that supporting and preparing teachers for their profession as well as throughout their career will help boost educational outcomes for our children.”
The District 95 representative said they are still finalizing speakers for the study. The meetings are currently planned to be conducted in person at the Capitol. The House studies are broadcast online via the House website through each committee where the study is held at okhouse.gov.
House Speaker Charles McCall approved 74 of the 92 interim studies requested by lawmakers. Four study requests were combined with another study to examine similar topics. Additionally, four of the 74 studies have been approved as joint studies to be conducted in partnership with the Senate.
Interim studies provide House members the opportunity outside the legislative session to take an in-depth look and hear from subject-matter experts on particular issues. Interim studies are assigned to committees with jurisdiction over the subject matter contained within the request.