Tag Archives: oklahoma

Teacher Exodus Update

I am really excited to share some more results from my study of the teachers who have left Oklahoma.   I am still analyzing some of the open ended responses but I have analyzed enough of the results that I feel confident sharing some of the results with you as I continue to add depth to the study and its results.   Normally in research, we would not be able to share results within the a month of starting a study – however this is such a current problem, and we need to be talking about what I am learning from this study.

To remind you, my research questions were:
Why are teachers leaving Oklahoma?
What is the cost to Oklahoma by this exodus?
What must change for teachers to return?

For each graphic, I am embedding the graphic from Pictochart so that you can click on the graphic and see the data and interact with it. If the format of the blog is too hard to do this, I have included a link that will open in a new window.

Method of the study

What OK loses by teachers leaving

Why are teachers leaving? 

Hope for the future

So after looking at all this, what are my thoughts as a researcher related to the Oklahoma teacher exodus crisis?

1)Most of the teachers left recently, they miss their families and 31% would be willing to return.

2) The problems they are talking about make sense – They are not making enough money as teachers to pay down their student loans, have a reliable car, and achieve benchmarks of success like buying a home.

3) It is about more than money. Teachers want to feel respected and valued as part of their communities. Their community is their local community but also their state as a whole.   They are committed to building their communities and they want to feel supported by them.

4) Teachers are important members of our communities.  We need them in our communities as members of neighborhoods and institutions.  We need to create an environment where they can be afford to part of them.

5) More than 50% of teachers who left had degrees beyond their bachelors. These were highly trained teachers. Replacing them with emergency certified teachers is not an equivalent trade.

6) Here’s the big one: if we think that we are feeling the effect of this teacher exodus phenomenon right now.. just wait.  If we don’t fix it quickly, 5 years from now, we will see the effects in the education of level of our next generation.  This will affect our economy, and our future as a state.   THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!!!


Feel free to browse my most updated map with Salary Differences.  Each marker is set to the new city and titled with the Oklahoma City if available salary difference is shared


Research your Passion

Wow.. I am blown away by the research experience I have had in the last 24 hours..

Sometime this summer when I heard about a few prominent teachers leaving Oklahoma, I was left with the question.. What have we as a state lost? I started to think about how we could capture this phenomenon and document the teachers who left Oklahoma and where did they go.

This is phenomenon research – research designed to capture and document something that is happening at a given time.  it is often framed by context or events and is time sensitive.   If you want to learn more about this type of research consult this special issue of Change management on the topic.  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14697017.2016.1230336?journalCode=rjcm20

I started out wanting to do the research anonymously – teachers leaving Oklahoma is a highly politically charged topic and i was not interested in being part of that.  but then after talking to a few teachers,  I realized that knowing that a professor was asking the questions was important.

I began working on a survey, got feedback from current teachers and teachers who left about the questions. The survey grew based on this feedback and also the sample narrowed.   It became clear that the sample needed clear bounding. So I limited it only to educators who are still working in education but in a different state.  I know this excludes people who left education or could not move for a variety of reasons – but again, this is phenomenon research – so the phenomenon I am capturing is educators who left OK to teach elsewhere and why they did that.   Those other choices were equally as valid and may be part of another study, but one of the challenges of a study is set clear boundaries. I also decided to only allow people to fill it out for themselves – and then that way I won’t ask a name, and they can do it anonymously (however, the collection of their data in some ways identifies them).

I went through a week of Human Subjects approval which also refined my survey more and did a few more proofings.

My ultimate goal is to look at the economic and educational impact of this phenomenon as well a produce a visual map to show who has moved to where.

The survey is found at  http://bit.ly/okteacherflight  

I am sampling using snowball sampling. I am sharing it on social media including a facebook group about educators in Oklahoma and Twitter.   And then encouraging others to share.  So my few posts of sharing, has a snowball effect to let others identify participants.

In the first 18 hours I had 135 responses.. (about 130  were valid and complete enough)

It allowed me to create this map after only 18 hours. Click on the pin to see where the teachers had taught in Oklahoma.

I am going to continue to capture data and plan to create new maps along the way.

But wow.. First,  what I am learning so far. People are so passionate about this issue.  Second, even after leaving the state, teachers have maintained an important network of educators and still care deeply about the state and their communities.  Third, we have a lot of work to do to learn about this problem.  Lots more info in the survey but this visual has a lot to say too.

My final, thought, I was a little in a research doldrum and I am so excited by this opportunity and idea..  Proof that research is driven by passion and the results can surprise you.

Thank you to everyone who is sharing the survey (http://bit.ly/okteacherflight , and I will continue to capture data.