Official: State emergency teacher licenses up 54% in 2018-19

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An ongoing teacher shortage led Oklahoma public schools to hire roughly 1,000 more nonaccredited teachers in the most recent school year compared to 2017-2018, and that number is expected to rise, according to state education officials.

State public schools employed 3,038 nonaccredited teachers in 2018-2019, which is 54% more than the 1,975 who were hired in the previous school year. The state Board of Education received a recommendation list Thursday to certify another 818 teachers, which included 531 renewals, the Tulsa World reported. Roughly 180 of those are for Tulsa Public Schools, including 160 renewals.

Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, which tracks indicators of the teacher shortage, said there are two takeaways from the numbers.

"First is, we continue to have a teacher-shortage crisis," Hime said. "The second one is more positive. These numbers from the state Department of Education show that schools hired more than 1,000 new teachers last year. In a few short years, districts have gone from paying in the low 30s (in thousands of dollars) to many paying in the 40s (in thousands of dollars). That's a huge positive in recruiting."

A state education report in January found that 30,000 Oklahoma teachers have left the profession in the last six years.

State-issued nonaccredited teaching certificates allow people without a state teaching license to teach in a classroom for two years while they complete training. The vast majority of nonaccredited teachers have degrees and work experience in other professions. Hime said districts that depend on them the most must make extra effort to ensure they succeed.

"The work that needs to be done now is with the districts," Hime said. "Districts have to be creative and find new ways to train emergency-certified teachers and partner with higher education institutions so they complete the needed coursework to complete the process to become fully certified teachers."

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Court reinstates death penalty for man in Oklahoma slaying

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal appeals court has reinstated the death sentence of an Oklahoma man convicted in the fatal shooting of his lover's estranged husband.

The full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday voted 10-3 to overturn a three-judge panel's 2-1 ruling in 2017 that overturned the death sentence of 66-year-old James Pavatt on the grounds that the state failed to prove the November 2001 shooting death of Rob Andrew was "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel."

Pavatt's attorneys declined comment.

Pavatt and Brenda Andrew were both convicted and sentenced to death after being arrested in February 2002 while crossing back into the United States from Mexico, where they had fled with the Andrew's two children following the shooting.

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