Oklahoma Teacher Pay Offset By Low Cost Of Living, Argue Some

Wednesday, March 21st 2018, 6:13 pm
By: News On 6

Teachers say they're walking out in 12 days if lawmakers don't meet their demands.

They're asking for a $10,000 raise over three years. They say that will put them in line with other states in our region.

3/21/2018 Related Story: Tulsa Teacher Working 2 Jobs Says She Wants Paid Like A Professional

Some argue, however, that Oklahoma teacher salaries are already at the regional average because of our lower cost of living.

3/21/2018 Related Story: Teacher Says Pay Raises Not Necessary, Should Wait Until Economy Improves

Education advocates say Oklahoma ranks last in the nation when it comes to teacher pay.

But we all know here in Oklahoma your money goes way further than a lot of other areas.

Alberto Morejan and his wife are both young teachers in Stillwater and they love it there but don't think they haven't at least done the math on moving to Texas.

If we move three hours south we're getting 45,000 raises between the both of us,” said Morejan. 

The cost of living in Dallas is about $4,000 more per person so they would still come out way ahead. 

But According to the education non-profit EdBuild who took average teacher salaries and adjusted them to cost of living for a recent NPR article, Oklahoma's adjusted teacher salaries would be closer to the middle of the pack in the region.  

“I do not care about a cost of living table or calculation on the internet or what someone might offer as an excuse for not addressing competitive pay,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. 

Hofmeister, however, said such cost of living adjustments are irrelevant.  

Other states not only offer better pay but a better teaching environment. 

She said Oklahoma has cut education funding by 28 percent in the past decade. Right now, our schools have nearly 2,000 emergency certified teachers. 

“What matters is that teachers are leaving. Oklahoma teachers have been walking out one by one of Oklahoma schools and Oklahoma classrooms for the last several years and they are leaving in droves. We have to do something to show respect,” Hofmeister said. 

By the way, if you take cost of living into account Oklahoma is still 40th in the country in teacher pay.