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Some lawmakers and educators are criticizing a recent report on Oklahoma teacher salaries by the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency. The report, which is available on the LOFT website, used some interesting math to declare Oklahoma teacher pay is number 1 in the region.

To come to that conclusion, LOFT adjusted the reported salaries for “tax burdens and cost of living.” When “real buying power” is factored into Oklahoma’s average 2019 teacher salary of $52,397, it jumps to $55,161, the report found.

State Rep. John Waldron, a former history teacher, called it a “smoke-and-mirrors report.” The Tulsa World, in an editorial, said it was crafted to “convince people there is no problem, rather than fixing the actual problems.”

The latest National Educators Association salary report — considered the gold standard for an apples to apples comparison across states —  shows Oklahoma classroom teachers earned an average of $54,096 in 2020, ranking 34th in the nation.

That was below Texas ($57,090) and New Mexico ($54,256), but above Kansas ($51,320), Missouri ($50,817) and Arkansas ($50,456).

It’s important to recognize all of these salaries reflect total compensation, or a salary before deductions for Social Security, retirement, health insurance and other benefits. LOFT found those benefits totaled an average of $16,900 per teacher in 2019 – meaning what teachers are actually taking home to live on is around $37,000 a year. That’s a big difference.

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  • Lessons about racism and history remain unchanged at Millwood, a mostly black school district, following the passage of state’s highly controversial “critical race theory” law. “I don’t teach one race to be greater than another race or that you’re disadvantaged because you are this race,” said middle school teacher Chevis Smith. “I never taught that.” [The Oklahoman]
  • Epic’s efforts to clean up after its former management company includes trying to track down lost laptops, IPads and hotspots. But some parents say they got a surprise notice from a collection agency, and the online charter school apologized. [Tulsa World]
  • A small but growing list of school districts across the country – Newark, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Cleveland – shifted temporarily to remote learning to deal with a surge of COVID-19 cases. [The New York Times]

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