Editorial: Solid plan to raise teacher pay

State Rep. Michael Rogers has a good plan to increase teacher pay.

Rogers, R-Broken Arrow, has a background as a school administrator and public education is very important in his district. Rogers, chairman of the House Common Education Committee, authored House Bill 1114, which would give public school teachers a $6,000 raise over a three-year period.

This bill accomplishes a lot, including:

  • It softens the blow to the budget by giving raises in increments of $1,000 the first year, $2,000 the second year and $3,000 the third year.
  • It forces superintendents and local school boards, who actually determine teacher pay, to put this extra money where is does the most good – the classroom.
  • It gives Oklahoma the top regional starting pay among adjoining states (Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri).
  • It jumps the state minimum teacher salary – the only figure set by state lawmakers – at $37,600, up from $31,600.
  • Among those seven states, it gives Oklahoma the second highest average teacher salary ($51,217), only trailing Texas ($51,758).

Here’s hoping the Oklahoma Senate will see the value in this commonsense bill and it will pass and be signed by the governor. There is opposition. Some want instant $10,000 a year raises for teaches and overpaid administrators. There is no money for that as the state faces an $800 million budget shortfall.

Some public education advocates will never be satisfied, even if the entire discretionary budget of the state was spent on common education.

Public education is not getting the job done in Oklahoma. Raising pay for classroom teachers is important and that is what Rogers’ bill accomplishes.