OKC VeloCity | Oklahoma moves up in teacher-pay rankings

Oklahoma moves up in teacher-pay rankings

By Molly Fleming / Policy / October 28, 2019

The John Rex Middle School classroom is ready for students to arrive.

In the last two years, the successful efforts to increase Oklahoma teachers’ salaries helped the state move up in the National Education Association’s annual rankings.

Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s Vice President of Education Drew Dugan said the organization plans to continue to help support teachers and the education field during the 2020 legislative session.

After two years of focusing on education funding, Oklahoma is now ranked 34th in teacher pay, moving up 15 steps from its previous ranking. This puts the average teacher salary above educators in several other surrounding states, including Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas.

With state-paid benefits included, an Oklahoma teacher’s income jumped 13.2 percent from 2017-2018, to the current rate of $52,412.

The jump in the rankings follows two legislative sessions where education funding was a top priority. In 2018, then-Gov. Mary Fallin approved the largest educator pay increase in the state’s history. This year, Gov. Kevin Stitt approved an average of $1,220 boost in pay to nearly every teacher. In total, Stitt’s budget also included an additional $74 million going to classrooms and another $74.3 million for school districts to use to hire more teachers, counselors and social workers.

Recruiting teachers is one priority for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber this upcoming legislative session, said Dugan. The entire legislative agenda is still being finalized, he said.

“We would hope the legislature continues to have a long-term and strategic view on addressing the teacher shortage,” Dugan said. “This should include not only making sure our teacher compensation package is regionally competitive but must also include giving teachers the training, guidance and other support they need to provide a high-quality classroom experience.”

He said the Chamber will likely support legislation to reward teacher performance and experience, incentivize teachers to work in high-priority areas and grow alternative pathways that enhance the diversity of the teaching profession.

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