(Guest post by Greg Forster)
The Oklahoman carries my article on how a century’s worth of headlines in the Oklahoman (formerly the Daily Oklahoman) have kept on telling us over and over again about a dire teacher shortage:
Nor was this limited to 1919. Examples abound in succeeding decades. “State Feeling Sharp Teacher Pinch Again” ran a headline in 1964, for example. That story said shortages happened only occasionally, but the paper ran similar headlines in 1966, 1969 and 1970.
The “dire teacher shortage” story appeals not only to readers who are teachers and their families (a fairly large constituency) but to any reader who likes a good underdog-versus-huge-uncaring-system story.
But journalists ought to be exercising a little more critical thought. Reviewing more recent coverage in Oklahoma, I point out:
The coverage did not raise obvious questions like: If the huge, indiscriminate across-the-board pay raise that was sold as necessary to recruit teachers in fact had little effect on recruitment, why did we enact it?
Or: Shouldn’t we tear down the artificial barriers to entry that keep people out of the teaching profession, like useless certification requirements that have consistently failed to show any connection to classroom outcomes?
Or: Shouldn’t we reform the pay scales and contract provisions that prevent us from targeting the best teachers for recruitment and retention?
No, the implicit takeaway is always more, more, more indiscriminate spending, without systemic reform.
I’d like to thank the Oklahoman for being such a good sport and running this!
Let me know what you think.