Thu, 13 Oct 2022 11:09:12 CDT
KC Sheperd, Farm Director, had the chance to visit with Jena Nelson, who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction as she answers questions concerning her stance on issues for education in Oklahoma.
With many teachers certified to teach in Oklahoma, teachers leaving the profession due to low salaries or lack of support has become a critical issue. Nelson said this issue is one of the main reasons she entered the race for Oklahoma State Superintendent.
“We have to address the teacher pay; we have to make sure that our professionals are paid a professional wage,” Nelson said. “Then, we also need to make sure that we are toning down the rederick when it comes to public education. Our educators deserve to be celebrated and elevated and having one of their own as state superintendent is going to help with that morale issue as well.”
Another part of Nelson’s plan if elected is to ensure there are programs in place to help teachers in their first year, to the fifth year.
“At the state department level, we can actually take our standards and then make a website where our one through five, or even our veteran teachers who need a little brush-up, we can then put in curriculum and lesson plans and attach them to the standards so we can take one more thing off of their plate and then they can adjust those lessons and just keep themselves going because when you are a first-year teacher, you are kind of paddling a lot and so you need all of the support you can get as you are learning the school culture.”
Another tactic Nelson plans to use to tackle to teacher shortage is to send out a school culture survey in January to each teacher in the state to find out what issues they are facing and see if there is a particular school where many teachers are leaving.
“We can bring the school culture team that is already developed at the state department level to help those administrators and districts maintain and sustain those teachers in the building so that our kids are not going to be out without a great instructor,” Nelson said. “I just think offering that opportunity for educators to be listened to is very important.”
Nelson said she has what it takes to run a large state agency.
“In addition to being a 17-year educator, as the state superintendent, obviously you are going to have to deal with a lot of policy,” Nelson said. “When I was the state teacher of the year, I served on committees at the state and national level that dealt with teacher retention, career readiness, also food insecurity with children. We also had committees that I served on with mental health, I worked with members of Congress, I have worked with our state legislators, and I have also worked in the cooperate world. I have run my own small business and I have even sold real estate. “
Nelson said her diverse experience will be valuable to move the state department in a forward direction with new ideas she gained working across the country.
Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear Jena Nelson answer more questions about critical race theory, the application of agriculture in curriculum, administrative spending auditing, and more.