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Oklahoma Trains Great Teachers, But Often For Other States

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

A former education leader says Oklahoma is training great teachers for other states. Many young teachers are getting their education here, but then they're leaving over low pay.

Amanda Satlow is in her third year of teaching. We ran into her at a job fair in Oklahoma hosted by the Dallas Independent School District. 

"Honestly, money plays a huge factor," Satlow said. "Right now, I have to have two part time jobs just to do enough for my daily life."

She said she has kids that need money and cars that need gasoline - also, emergencies happen.

"Teaching here, there's no way to reserve money for emergencies," said third-year teacher Amanda Satlow.

In Oklahoma, the state minimum salary for a teacher just starting out is $31,600. In Dallas:

"We start out at $51,000 a year which is about the average in Texas," a recruiter said. "You have the ability to earn more money more quickly in Dallas through Teacher Excellence Initiative. You can make up to $60,000 within three to four years."

"Being in an environment where your classroom supplies aren't coming out of your own pocket," said Amanda Satlow. "Where you don't have to dip into your savings to fund your classrooms.

Educate Oklahoma

"Cops don't have to buy their guns and their bullets; firemen don't have to buy their suits," she said. "Any other profession gets much more support than the teaching does."

So how does Oklahoma compete?

Over in Arkansas -  a teacher can start making $37,000 in Fort Smith and $44,700 in Bentonville.

Up in Wichita Kansas - starting pay is $40,700  

A $10,000 raise would make Oklahoma very competitive - but at one point it was just a $5,000 raise being debated.

A $5,000 pay raise still won't be what Dallas can offer, but a former Oklahoma superintendent said it'll help. Karl Springer, a former OKC superintendent, is now retired and living in Dallas - where he now volunteers.

"There's a certain allegiance to the state of Oklahoma, and I think if teachers saw that the legislature and community cared enough to give them that type of raise, the results would be positive," he said.

"What's happened is over the last 15 years, revenue for education has been going down," said former OKC school superintendent Karl Springer.

"So the attitude has been, it'll be OK. We'll reduce taxes, have prosperity and have more revenue - and that has not been the case."

He says until that changes, out-of-state school districts will find success in holding career fairs in Oklahoma, and teachers like Amanda Satlow will be looking to leave. 

"Study after study keeps telling us that teacher pay is the reason we're having such a hard time retaining teachers," Satlow said.

While a lot of teachers are moving to Texas for a bigger paycheck, the higher cost of living will still take a chunk of that money.

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