You can find the survey page here.
For this assignment I used my blog space and invited anyone who would like to participate to answer four questions about the teacher shortage in Oklahoma. All answers were given anonymously. There were 21 people who submitted answers. The questions on the survey were:
- How did you first hear about the teacher shortage?
- What sources do you use to get information on the teacher shortage?
- Has this issue received too much or too little media coverage?
- Are the statistics that are used to report the teacher shortage reliable? Why or why not?
In hindsight, some additional questions may have been helpful: what is your role in the education process; or, are you in an urban, suburban, or rural school district. This would have given me some basic demographics to work with, as well as the point of view of the person answering. I could usually tell if an administrator or teacher was answering the question, but sometimes this was hard.
The answers to this question fell into some specific areas. Several respondents were in a position to hire teachers and commented that they had seen this coming as the applicant pool dwindled. Some of the answers were from people involved in public education and could see the crisis forming and coming. One of the respondents said “Every year when we interviewed for an open position we didn’t’ hire the best candidate, we hired the ONLY candidate.”
Other respondents replied that they learned of this issue through their PLN or in Twitter. Several responses said that Twitter had made them aware of this issue, one person said “From the members of my PLN #oklaed.” This would reference the Twitter hashtag that is used to group tweets that are focused on education and education issues in Oklahoma.
Other responses included finding out from the OSSBA Survey (Oklahoma State School Boards Association). This group performed a survey during the first two weeks of August this year, about 80% of the state’s public school districts participated. There were only two responses that were recorded as first hearing about the teacher shortage from the newspapers or national news.
Analysis: There were a variety of ways that people first heard about the teacher shortage. It appears that where you first heard about it, depended on what your involvement in the educational process is. Administrators would say that they are not getting enough applicants. Teachers would note that some positions had not been filled, and others would use TV news or newspapers to get this information.
Favorite quote for this question “Job security for the rest of us…”
Eleven responses directly stated that the social media giants, Twitter and Facebook, was a part of them getting information about the shortage, several more said they read state and national blogs as well. Some of the response listed the Oklahoma State Department of Education website, some also listed OSSBA, and other education advocacy groups (CCOSA, TCTA, TPS, NEA). Nobody listed the Daily Oklahoman, yet several people listed the Tulsa World. National newspaper digital editions, professional journals, local TV news were all mentioned one time.
Analysis: Social media played a huge role in providing sources of coverage for this topic. Blogs were a close second with the more traditional media sources of TV news and newspapers getting only a mention. This is interesting and appears to support our conversation about “truthiness” and finding those people who believe like we do.
Favorite quote for this question: “myself: before morning coffee, look myself in the mirror and ask ‘Do I want to contribute to the teacher shortage starting today?’”
Almost everyone that answered this question said that there had been too little media coverage. One person responded by saying “I have lost all faith in our leadership at the state level.” This person went on to say that they had left education this past May and was earning quite a bit more money. One of the response said “It will have received enough publicity only when the shortage has ended.”
Another response questions the accuracy of the media and had a different question “What are we going to do to fix this?” Along these lines, a response was not so much that there was an issue with the amount of coverage, but who was receiving the coverage. This person questioned why so many “experts” were the ones being asked about the teacher shortage.
Analysis: Most responses felt like there was not enough focused coverage on the teacher shortage.
Favorite quote for this question: “It’s like being in a 10-year drought and trying to explore a variety of reasons it’s dry. No, dumbass – IT HASN’T RAINED FOR 10 YEARS!”
Most of the responses shared that anything from the Daily Oklahoman was not to be trusted and neither were numbers from the legislature. One of the responses shared that “Statistics can always be manipulated to support the speaker’s point of view.” There were also several people who said that what they saw on Twitter was what they believed and still others felt like the SDE or one of the professional organizations had good numbers.
Analysis: Responses were all over the place, with the Daily Oklahoman and the legislature getting no credit for their statistics.
Favorite quote for this question: I can’t speak to all of them, but I about want to eat my own leg off every time I read about our average $44,000 salary. WHERE ARE THEY COMING UP WITH THAT NUMBER?!?