Oklahoma 47th In Average Teacher Salaries

Thursday, March 29th 2007, 2:09 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The latest survey by a national teachers' union ranks Oklahoma 47th among the states in average teacher salaries.

The average teacher salary in Oklahoma for the 2004-05 school year was $37,879, an increase of 8% from the previous year, according to the American Federation of Teachers.

Gov. Brad Henry and legislative leaders have been working to raise Oklahoma teacher pay to the regional average and last year a $3,000 across-the-board salary increase was approved. That raise was not reflected in the AFT survey.

Nationally, teacher pay averages $47,602, a 2.2 increase from the previous year but not enough to cover the cost of inflation, the AFT said.

Shelly Hickman, spokeswoman at the state Department of Education, said Oklahoma has been ranked as low as 49th by the AFT so the new report shows improvement.

State teachers were listed as 47th in estimates for the 2005-2006 school year by the National Education Association, another national teachers' union. The NEA rankings are scheduled to be released later this year.

Hickman said it is unclear where the state will stack up in national and regional rankings for the current school year, despite last year's hefty pay raises.

"Other states have passed pay raises, too, and we just don't know," she said. "We do have to have a sustained effort to reach the regional average."

A legislative budget plan recently vetoed by Henry proposed teacher pay raises of $600. Henry said that plan was insufficient.

He had proposed raises of $1,100 in February, before a state board lowered from about $500 million to about $250 million the amount of new money available for lawmakers to spend.

Other states in the region ranked in the AFT study included Texas, which was 32nd with an average salary of $41,009 and New Mexico, which was 37th at $39,391.

Oklahoma ranked 33rd in the survey in beginning teacher pay at $29,174, down 1% from 2004.

Several years ago, Oklahoma raised pay for beginning teachers substantially in an effort to stem the trend of young teachers going to other states such as Texas.