Monday, August 8, 2016

Context missing in Oklahoma teacher pay debate

Economist Byron Schlomach writes that "a $5,000 pay raise in Oklahoma is the equivalent of a nearly $5,700 raise in the rest of the country."
Such an increase would raise teacher pay enough that on a cost-of-living-adjusted basis, only Texas would still outrank us among our nearby neighbors. We would have the 15th-highest average teacher pay, ahead of Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, and Massachusetts. Georgia would be the only Southern state besides Texas to outrank us in average teacher pay adjusted for cost of living. 
A $4,000 pay raise would still see Oklahoma paying more than every neighboring state except Texas on a cost-of-living basis and see us continuing to outrank the states just mentioned. We would be 17th highest in adjusted teacher pay. 
A $2,100 pay raise would see Oklahoma ranked 24th among the states in teacher pay with cost of living taken into account. We would move above Maryland, California, Massachusetts, and Missouri. 
These are facts to be considered as Oklahomans contemplate raising teacher pay, whether the Legislature does this in a special session or we vote to do so in a referendum election. As the spouse of a teacher, a pay raise would be appreciated. But whatever is done, it should be an informed choice.
Dr. Schlomach says Oklahoma's teacher pay currently ranks 30th, not 48th.

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