Tulsa has trouble finding and retaining teachers. It may be due to the fact that Oklahoma has low teacher pay, perhaps the lowest in the country.

The district is responding to the teacher shortage by creating its own TFA-style teacher-training program, with five weeks of preparation for people with a bachelor’s degree. In only five weeks, candidates will be able to step in as teachers of elementary and secondary schools, as well as special education classes.

The program has applied for but not yet been approved by the state. 

It is a nail in the coffin of the teaching profession, as is TFA. If people can become full-fledged teachers in five weeks, then teaching is not a profession. How would the people of Oklahoma feel about qualifying their doctors, lawyers, and accountants with a five-week training program?

The superintendent of the Tulsa city public schools is Deborah Gist, who previously achieved a level of national notoriety when she was State Commissioner of Education in Rhode Island. In 2010, Gist backed up the local superintendent in impoverished Central Falls when she threatened to fire every member of the staff of Central Falls High School because of low test scores (including the lunch room staff and the custodians). That event coincided with the release of “Waiting for Superman” and the Gates-driven movement to blame all the ills of urban education on “bad teachers.” Gist, like Rhee, enjoyed a measure of fame for her “get Tough” attitude toward teachers.