Via Crisis Hits Oklahoma Classrooms with Teacher Shortage, Quality Concerns

An excerpt:

Oklahoma’s deepening teacher shortage has education officials trading in their “Help Wanted” signs for ones with a more urgent message: “Help Needed NOW.”

As schools ring in the start of a new academic year, administrators are desperately trying to fill teacher vacancies amid a scarcity of applicants.

Evidence of that growing desperation abounds through the number of emergency certification requests at the Oklahoma State Department of Education and through vacancies still advertised by districts.

Since July, the state has received 526 requests for emergency teaching certificates — already exceeding the 506 it received in all of 2014-15. Those certificates allow those who haven’t completed basic higher education and training requirements to enter the classroom right away.

“The teacher shortage is at a point of crisis,” said state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. “Emergency certifications continue to skyrocket, and class sizes continue to increase. Until we can attract and retain teachers in our state, education will suffer.”

Tulsa Public Schools, which had 568 teachers — or 20 percent — of its certified teaching positions exit over the past 14 months, has resorted to the measure at a record high rate. District officials say they have submitted 59 emergency certificate requests. Records from the state show 40 of those among the total of 526 already processed.

Today, low teacher morale in Oklahoma and better salary and benefits in surrounding states are making it harder for districts to compete for recent college graduates and retain experienced teachers. The state also averaged 3,000 annual teacher retirements in each of the past five years.

The teacher shortage is spinning off a complex web of devastating consequences in course offerings for students and working conditions for the educators left behind.

Tulsa’s new superintendent, Deborah Gist, said she didn’t fully appreciate all of the implications when she left her position as Rhode Island education commissioner to come here in July.

“Not only do we need a teacher in every classroom, we also need experienced and stable teams of teachers in our schools,” Gist said. “TPS has consistently had around 50 teacher vacancies at the start of school and even through our school year for many years now. So to start the year with a full complement of teachers is an enormous challenge. We have worked tirelessly and creatively to ensure every student in our district has a teacher on the first day of school and throughout the year.”

Three days before the start of school, the TPS website still lists more than 150 teaching positions for applications because hiring needs persist all year. Another 100 support jobs, such as janitors and classroom aides, were also posted.

Frustration leads to retirement

According to the Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System, nearly 15,000 teachers retired over the past five years, including 1,100 early retirees. Public schools reported 1,000 unfilled teacher vacancies in August 2014, and over the course of the academic year, another 3,090 teachers retired.

Of last year’s retirees, 238 left early, including Lynetta Tart, who had taught for 39 years at TPS before retiring in June, shortly before her 61st birthday.

“I decided to retire because I was tired of going to meetings,” she said.

In early July, one of Gist’s first actions as Tulsa superintendent was to send a letter asking more than 900 teachers who had left in recent years to consider returning. A spokesman said that although the effort produced about 35 “leads,” none resulted in new employment contracts.

To read the entire article, click here.

Immediate Release: N7 Fund to Provide Funding for Native Youth-Led Sports Programs

From CNAY blog here. An excerpt:

Washington, DC, July 20, 2015 –– As a part of President Obama’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative, Nike, Inc. and the N7 Fund has partnered with the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) to extend grant opportunities as a resource for Native youth leaders promoting health and wellness through sport and physical activity in their community. Gen-I is an initiative to help improve the lives of Native youth and to cultivate the next generation of Native leaders. Gen-I includes new investments and policies to expand educational, employment, and health and social services for Native youth. CNAY, along with the Department of the Interior, have partnered to launch a National Native Youth Network. Through this Network, CNAY has engaged over 2,000 Native youth from across the country in 2015.

. . . .

Native youth can now apply for up to $10,000 in funding for their programs and initiatives through the N7 Fund website. For more information and to apply, please visit

Tribes support Sovereignty Institute at University of Minnesota

From, here. An excerpt:

All 11 tribes in Minnesota have endorsed the creation of the Tribal Sovereignty Institute at the University of Minnesota in Duluth.

The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council passed a resolution last month to support the new endeavour. Through the institute, tribes will play a key role in educating students, state employees and the general public about their unique status as governments.

“We believe this partnership with Indian tribes is a win-win for the University and the Native nations of Minnesota,” Tadd Johnson, the director of graduate studies within the American Indian Studies at UMD, said in a press release. “We intend to devote a great deal of time and effort into making the Institute a fully-staffed, fully-functioning partnership with Indian tribes.”

Via Nike N7 Fund Seeks Applications to Fund Native Youth Programs

The N7 Fund is expanding grant opportunities to Native youth.The organization, a non-profit arm of Nike, has already been funding health, wellness and sports programs in Indian Country. Through a partnership with the Center for Native American Youth, young Native Americans will be able to secure money for their own initiatives as well.“N7 has allocated resources for Native youth as a part of N7’s commitment to Gen-I,” Sam McCracken, a long-time Nike employee who serves as chairman of the N7 Fund, said in a press release. “We created this opportunity in partnership with the Center for Native American Youth to bring sport and all of its benefits to Gen-I and to create further opportunities for future generations.”Gen-I is the Generation Indigenous initiative that President Barack Obama launched last year to put more attention on issues facing Native youth. As part of that effort, about 1,000 youth attended the first-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering in Washington, D.C., on July 9.

Nike and the N7 Fund hosted a reception for attendees after the historic event. That was where McCracken first made the funding announcement.

“Nike N7 represents a positive outlet and brand to many and we are excited about their continued work to support Native youth,” said Erin Bailey, the executive director of the Center for Native American Youth.

Native youth can apply for grants at

Employment Opportunity: Klamath Tribes Education and Employment Director

Description: The Education and Employment Director will provide leadership, direction, and management for the department and programs. This position performs a variety of complex management and administrative functions. The primary responsibilities are the management, budget control, and enhancement of tribal programs/responsibilities in the Education & Employment Department. This includes, but is not limited to, Higher Education, Adult Basic Education, Adult Vocational Training, Direct Employment, RED Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Early Childhood Development Program, and the Johnson O’Malley (JOM) Program.

Under the general guidance of the General Manager, employee performs the overall planning, execution, and evaluation of tribal programs and services within the department and completes work in compliance with applicable tribal and federal policies, procedures, and regulations.

For more details, click the posting, here.

For the application, click here.