Editorial: School boards set teacher salaries

State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister thinks that the Republican-led Legislature decides teacher salaries.

That simply isn’t true.

Local school boards set teacher pay. State statute sets a minimum salary for teachers but apart from that, lawmakers don’t determine how much public school teachers make.

Hofmeister, a registered Republican, constantly joins the liberal news media (particularly the Tulsa World) in spreading half-truths about who is responsible for “low teacher pay” in Oklahoma.

Tulsa Public Schools could give every teacher a $5,000 raise if the school board realigned its priorities. Instead of filling the Education Service Center with overpaid administrators (two of the more recent hires make a combined $315,000 a year), the TPS Board could direct those funds to the classroom.

But that is not the message of progressives like Hofmeister. No, her mantra is to pour more and more taxpayer money into public education and to grow these academic “kingdoms.”

This is why State Question 779 will be on the ballot November 8. It is a one-cent sales tax increase (a 22 percent hike) that proponents claim will raise more than $6 million a year for “public education.” Thanks to the media, most voters think all this money will go to common education (kindergarten through 12th grade). It won’t. In fact, only about 60 percent will, with the rest going to higher education and vocational training.

And should this pass, look for the Tulsa World and the local TV stations to start running stories about this is still not enough funding for education. Public education spends too much on low priorities (administrators) and too little on important areas (teacher pay). Raising taxes and giving school boards more billions of dollar to misspend won’t solve the problem.