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Oklahoma Education Department Hopes To Follow Iowa's Lead On Teacher Retention

elementary school library
Jacob McCleland

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has asked for $15 million to implement a system lawmakers passed last year that would help retain highly effective teachers.

The Legislature didn't have the funds to pay for the so-called “Iowa model” as part of House Bill 3114. The Education Department asked for the money Thursday as part of its budget request for Fiscal Year 2018.

eCapitol's Christie Southern reports the money would allow 10 to 15 schools to participate in the program, and the money would pay for stipends for professional development conferences and allow for a replacement teacher to fill the classroom during that time:

Carolyn Thompson, director of government affairs, said the department has not calculated how much that would cost. The program is entirely voluntary and not a mandated. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister added there could be other funding sources but Oklahoma often misses out on these grant opportunities because of its inability to provide the necessary financial commitment. "We are often finding because Oklahoma does not show a commitment financially to a particular effort it is very hard for us to successfully acquire a grant to support that work. This is very important as we begin this work to attract other funds," she said. Hofmeister said because of this lack of "seed money" Oklahoma has been left behind when other states are given so much through philanthropic support.

The state Board of Education wants to expand the program statewide because there are currently about 50,000 students being taught by emergency-certified teachers who require significant support and professional development.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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