Teacher Shortage Ahead?

Oklahoma City, OK – More teachers retiring

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Oklahoma could be facing a shortage of teachers in the future as the number of retiring educators exceeds the amount coming into the profession.

A National Commission on Teaching and America's Future report recently warned that as baby boomers reach retirement age, states will lose large numbers of teachers. The retirements are expected to peak in the 2010-2011 school year.

The average retirement age is 59. The reports says in Oklahoma, 46 percent of teachers are age 50 or older.

Sharron Coffman of the Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System says this month, 1,085 teachers retired. Coffman says June usually has the highest number of retirements, but the number normally is closer to 800.

Meanwhile, according to the State Regents for Higher Education, admissions to teacher education programs at state universities fell about 24 percent between 1998 and 2008.

In 1998, 2,590 people entered the programs, compared with 1,974 last year.

Some of that has been offset by alternative certifications.

Kevin Burr heads up the recruitment effort for the Tulsa Public Schools. He says the totals are not surprising. He says Tulsa lost 50-teachers at the end of this year, but will gain 80 from the Teach America program. That is more than enough to off-set this year's retirements.

Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.