McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State news

June 19, 2014

Identifying the 1,253 educators becoming Republicans

ENID (CNHI) —  An analysis by the Enid News & Eagle pins the number of educators who became Republicans over the past year at 1,253. But who are they?

They mostly come from small, rural school districts. More than half of them work in districts with fewer than 200 state certified educators.

These schools are spread throughout the state and don’t seem to fit a geographical pattern. Sentinel, Central and Frederick Public Schools had roughly a third of their teacher corps change parties. Stringtown, a district of 19 certified educators near McAlester in the state’s southeast quadrant, saw more than half convert before the June 24 primary.

The analysis could only confidently identify 229 converts from the 10 school districts with the most employees, each with more than a thousand educators.

The state’s largest public school employer, Oklahoma City, had just 14 who switched, according to the analysis.

Enid, already a heavily Republican city, saw only a 1.2-percent conversion rate.

The review isn’t perfect, though. While voter registration data provided by the State Election Board includes information like birth dates and addresses, the education department’s list of certified teachers only provides first and last names along with the school district where they work.

Because neither list shares a unique identifier, the results had to be calculated based on names. That effort showed 7,301 Oklahomans who were Democrat or independent switched to the Republican Party. Then that list was compared to the database of more than 50,000 teachers, counselors, coaches and administrators who are on file with the state. Finally, out came a number: 1,253, which is 17.2 percent of all converts.

To narrow the scope of the search and improve confidence in the results, the final list of 1,253 names had to be registered to vote and certified to teach in the same county.

This also presents an issue that could theoretically return fewer teachers than actually joined the GOP. For example, John Smith might vote in Oklahoma County but teach in Cleveland County. For the purposes of this study, he would have been eliminated from consideration.

The list also misses people who teach under a middle name or nickname. Because of the massive amount of data crunching required to simply match a name to one of Oklahoma’s 1.98 million registered voters, finding that match would have been nearly impossible without significant resources or time.

Teachers who weren’t registered in Oklahoma by May 2013, but signed up in time for the GOP primary, also were dismissed because there was no way to divine whether they were Republicans before that.

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