Oklahoma officials worry that the Sooner State is suffering a teacher shortage crisis. Their educators are escaping to Kansas, according to one district superintendent, Jason James. James is the superintendent of Alex Public Schools in Oklahoma.
“Our teachers are going to Texas and Arkansas and Kansas, because they’ve got shortages, too,” James told the Daily Oklahoman.
If Oklahoma teachers are crossing the northern border, that’s likely news to Kansas officials, who routinely argue the Sunflower State routinely loses teachers to neighboring states.
Several media outlets reported last summer that Kansas was in dire need of additional educators. KSHB-TV reported the Sunflower State is facing ‘another round of teachers shortages,’ though the story doesn’t say when the other rounds occurred.
“It’s been tough trying to recruit enough teachers to fill all of the positions that we have this year. We have a lot of shortages, especially math and science, like a lot of places, but also elementary school teachers,” Patricia Hodison, Kansas City, Kansas, teacher union president, told one media outlet.
Kathy Busch, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education, told Fox 4 News that teachers are leaving Kansas for better pay elsewhere, and new teachers aren’t applying to work in the state.
Perhaps the 2016 shortage was on the heels of the 2015 teacher shortage? That’s the year the Washington Post theorized teachers ‘hot-footed‘ out of the state. The Post reporter suggested the Great Educator Escape of 2015 was related to low pay. She quoted 2012-2013 average Kansas teaching salary of $47,464 as a cause.
Fox 4 and KSNT reported on the shortage, and as recently as January 2017, High Plains Public Radio asked Kansas teaching schools how they’re addressing the shortage. So, is there a Kansas teacher shortage?
One news organization bothered to read the report from a Kansas State Department of Education Blue Ribbon Task Force. It reported the answer is not exactly.
“More than twice as many educators enter Kansas each year than leave the state, and the number leaving the teaching profession hasn’t increased dramatically, state data indicates,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reported in August 2016.
Oklahoma officials believe Kansas beckons Oklahoma teachers north, but Kansas officials think the Sunflower State is hemorrhaging educators. The truth is probably somewhere in between. A so-called teacher shortage is nothing a pile of taxpayer cash can’t solve, according teacher unions and their media allies. In a free market education economy, none of these squabbles would be required.