teachers

In the Navajo culture, teachers are revered as "wisdom keepers," entrusted with the young to help them grow and learn. This is how Tia Tsosie Begay approaches her work as a fourth-grade teacher at a small public school on the outskirts of Tucson, Ariz.

For Navajos, says Begay, your identity is not just a name; it ties you to your ancestors, which in turn defines you as a person.

"My maternal clan is 'water's edge'; my paternal clan is 'water flows together,' " she explains. "Our healing power is through humor and laughter, and I try to bring that to my classroom."

Emily Wendler / KOSU

The first year of teaching is hard. National data shows that one in 10 teachers will quit in their first year.

In Oklahoma, hundreds of people have received emergency certifications, allowing them to teach with very little, or no, experience. What kind of support are they getting? In some schools, it's not much. But in others, they have help and inspiration to get them over the first-year hump. 

Tammie Lincoln worked for an insurance company before she got her job at Lawton Public Schools.

Starting a new job is always tough — no matter the profession. But the first year for a new teacher can be brutal.

Research shows that roughly one teacher in 10 will quit by the end of that first year, and the toughest time — for many — is right now. In fact, this season is so famously hard on teachers that it even has a name ...

Here's a recent excerpt from the blog Love, Teach:

Emily Wendler / KOSU

University of Oklahoma President, David Boren, and his education advocacy group filed a petition with the Secretary of State Monday, that will ask voters to support a one-cent sales tax increase to fund education.

“Are our kids worth a penny?” Boren asked his listeners at the state capitol.

Various estimates say the tax could cost an Oklahoma family anywhere from $75 to $250 a year.

It's election season at Canaan Elementary's second grade, in Patchogue, N.Y., and tensions are running high. Today is speech day, and right now it's Chris Palaez's turn.

The 8-year-old is the joker of the class. With a thick mohawk and a mischievous glimmer in his dark eyes, he seems like the kind of kid who would be unfazed by public speaking.

But he's nervous.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about Monday's teacher rally and the vote a few days earlier to ban payroll deductions to teachers' unions.

The trio also discuss the new law signed by Governor Fallin to require doctors to check an online database of prescription drugs to crack down on abuse and Oklahoma emergency officials have to make hazard plans dealing with climate change or risk losing grant money.

Every year, thousands of fresh-faced teachers are handed the keys to a new classroom, given a pat on the back and told, "Good luck!"

Over the next five years, though, nearly half of those teachers will transfer to a new school or leave the profession altogether — only to be replaced with similarly fresh-faced teachers.

This is the canary in the coal mine.

Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation's largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It's down sharply in New York and Texas as well.

In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.

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