State superintendent pushes for higher teacher pay | News

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s top education official said he plans to ask legislators to spend $310 million to give all teachers a $5,000 raise, but one state legislator said one He said that while the first was justified, he did not know whether the amount was financially feasible.

Joy Hoffmeister, state public education chief, said in a news release Monday that the price increase will be part of the State Department’s Department of Education budget request for the next legislative session. Amid acute teacher shortages, investment is critical to the state’s ability to “build the sustainable teacher workforce necessary to provide the high-quality education Oklahoma students need and deserve.” said.

She said just as Oklahoma legislators have raised teacher salaries significantly in recent years, so have neighboring states. Oklahoma now ranks fourth in the region with an average salary of $54,096 Ranked. Behind Colorado ($57,706), Texas ($57,090) and New Mexico ($54,256). She also noted that the governor of New Mexico recently signed a bill that would increase teachers’ salaries by $10,000 annually.

“It’s imperative that we look for long-term solutions to show that Oklahoma respects and respects teachers,” said Hoffmeister, noting that the state has 52,850 certified teachers. mentioned.

Hoffmeister’s call comes just days after the Oklahoma School Board Association reported a record 1,019 teaching vacancies. School districts are on pace to hire a record number of emergency certified teachers and part-time teachers.

The survey has been running for nine years and nearly 70% of the 328 school district managers surveyed say the teacher recruitment market is worse than it was a year ago.

School districts provide free or low-cost childcare, preschool and afterschool programs, increased benefits, tuition reimbursement, housing incentives, additional paid professional development opportunities, classroom grants through private partnerships, and financial reported trying to encourage employees by offering assistance. Assistance with certification exams.

Districts received very little new state funding in the current budget year. The survey found that many rely on temporary federal relief funds to help with recruitment and retention.

The survey also found that 25% of school districts have used salary increases, retention rates, or recruitment incentives to increase teacher compensation. About 60% of districts have increased salaries for support workers.

In a statement announcing the findings of the study, Sean Hime, executive director of the group, said all Oklahoma students should work hard to ensure they have quality teachers with the training and resources they need to help. , said it was now time to make “bold and unprecedented commitments.” All students succeed.

“Investing in education is the best form of economic development,” he said. “Our students deserve it. Making teaching an attractive profession is the best strategy for

Oklahoma’s last official pay raise was in 2018 when lawmakers passed a $6,100 pay raise just before a strike threatened, and in 2019, teachers received an average of $1,220 extra pay raises. , said the State Department of Education.

Sen. Dwayne Pemberton (R-Muskogee), a former educator and chairman of the important education budget subcommittee, said there is no question that teacher pay increases are needed, but how much of a problem? Thing.

He said he wasn’t sure if $5,000 was financially feasible, or if it was the right number “because it’s a tremendous amount.”

“I don’t know if $5,000 is realistic, but it’s definitely time to consider raising salaries for teachers,” said Pemberton.

Pemberton said the country’s economy was still doing fairly well, but no one could tell when the country would slip into a “recession” due to inflation.

He said there are many factors discouraging teachers from working in Oklahoma classrooms, including salaries. A new law is about to go into effect and school districts should try to identify why teachers are resigning or leaving the classroom.

Pemberton said wages discourage people from pursuing a career in education because college graduates can make more money if they start in other occupations.

“If we take education seriously and try to make sure that we show people that we appreciate them and that our teachers are appreciated, so that they can feel good about themselves and their teachers. We need to find a way to compensate until it’s a job they do in the classroom,” Pemberton said.

Kathryn Bishop, president of the Oklahoma State Education Association, said Hoffmeister’s plan was “a big step in the right direction” and that the state hoped that both the state education department and legislature would “attract teachers to our schools.” We need to take bold steps to keep it safe,” he said. classroom.

Bishop said there is a shortage of teachers nationwide, but Oklahoma has been short of them longer than any of the surrounding states.

The state has more than $1 billion in savings and is ready to set aside nearly $700 million after lawmakers failed to lure a Panasonic battery factory to create 4,000 jobs, she said.

“Oklahoma needs to start looking at what we have and the money we have,” she said. I’ve never been more frustrated about not being able to use it and where it should be spent.This is a workforce that needs investment and the future of students starts now so it’s time to start investing in that. Here comes… I can’t wait, they can’t wait, our kids can’t wait any longer.”

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