EDUCATION WATCH BLOG
March 20, 2015
Oklahoma gained one spot to claim the fourth lowest average teacher salary in the nation, not because teachers are earning significantly more, but because the average salary in Idaho went down.
The National Education Association report released earlier this week showed Oklahoma’s average teacher salary was $44,373 in 2012-2013, ahead of only South Dakota and Mississippi. The new data for 2013-2014 shows Oklahoma’s average salary was $44,549, up $176 compared with the previous school year.
But it was a $204 decrease in the average salary in Idaho that pushed Oklahoma up to fourth lowest.
The NEA is the nation’s largest teachers union. The local affiliate is the Oklahoma Education Association.
It was not immediately known why Idaho’s pay decreased, though averages can change as older teachers retire and new ones are hired at lower pay.
The salary data includes base pay and medical benefits.
Here is how average salaries stacked up in the bottom five states:
Arizona – $45,264
Idaho – $44,669
Oklahoma – $44,373
Mississippi – $41,814
South Dakota – $39,018
North Carolina – $44,990
Oklahoma – $44,549
Idaho – 44,465
South Dakota $ 40,023
The report also shows Oklahoma still has the third-lowest per-pupil funding in the nation, ahead of only Nevada and Utah.
Here’s how the bottom five states stacked up in per-pupil funding:
Tennessee – $8,984
Mississippi – $8,971
Oklahoma – $8,729
Utah – $8,549
Nevada – $7,507
Mississippi – $9,114
North Carolina – $8,991
Oklahoma – $8,804
Utah – $8,743
Nevada – $7,521
State Education Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has used the state’s rankings in per-pupil expenditures and average teacher salaries to push for more education funding.
Shortly after taking office in January, she unveiled her plan to increase teacher pay by $5,000 and to add five additional days to the school calendar during the next five years.
Hofmeister asked for an additional $205 million in funding for support her proposal during the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The future of Hofmeister’s request, though, is uncertain.
Departments were told their funding could be cut by up to 4 percent next year due to a projected $600,000 budget short fall.
Hofmeister told the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this week that a 4 percent cut would mean $100,000 less for state education.
On Friday, Hofmeister said there are ways to increase education funding despite the budget shortfall.
Strategies included looking for ineffective tax incentives, reducing education mandates and finding ways to divert money that goes to testing.
Failing to take action will only make the state’s teacher shortage worse, Hofmeister said, especially since the surrounding states offer higher salaries.
“Out students deserve to have an effective teacher in every classroom,” she said. “I am going to continue to highlight this problem. This is a crisis.”
Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said she was not surprised by the report’s findings.
“Our state’s position in the rankings will never change until our elected officials make education a true priority,” she said. “While Oklahoma faces an enormous budget shortfall, with true legislative leadership there is still time this session to create a plan to better fund education in the near future.”
Nate Robson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more Education Watch blog posts click HERE