OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 12, 2014) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi is pushing for state legislators to approve a $2,000 teacher pay raise as part of a comprehensive effort to combat a teacher shortage throughout Oklahoma. The proposal is among several recommendations from the Oklahoma Educator Workforce Shortage Task Force, which Superintendent Barresi established last year.
“Nothing is more important than giving Oklahoma’s future generations the opportunities that come with a great education, and that requires great teachers. Attracting and keeping first-rate teachers is a serious challenge when they can receive better compensation elsewhere,” said Barresi.
“Some of our teachers have children on free- or reduced-price lunches. Too many of Oklahoma’s best and brightest reject the teaching profession altogether — or wind up leaving the classroom — because of meager pay. Before Oklahoma can move forward with teacher differential pay, it is important that we make sure teacher salaries are even competitive.”
In the wake of an alarming teacher shortage throughout Oklahoma, Barresi last year convened a task force comprised of various stakeholders, including legislators; teachers; school administrators; and representatives of the business community, higher education and CareerTech. Task force members examined how best to attract and retain high-quality teachers in Oklahoma public schools.
Barresi is urging lawmakers to approve House Bill 2966, authored by state Rep. Ann Coody, which proposes an increase of $2,000 to the state minimum salary schedule for teachers. In addition, the lawmaker has authored HB 2967, which provides a tax credit for space in a teacher’s home that is used for work purposes.
“It has been a long time since our teachers have received a raise and I believe it is very important that they receive a raise,” Coody said. “Of course, we know that we’re short on state money again this year, but a teacher pay raise is a big goal of mine.”
Barresi is also supportive of another task force recommendation aimed at making it easier for retired teachers to return to the classroom without compromising their benefits.
Senate Bill 2118, introduced by Sen. Ron Sharp, would facilitate retired teachers returning to the profession.
“With the current teacher shortage, this is aimed at getting qualified teachers back in the classroom,” said Sharp, a veteran educator. “It addresses some of the issues that have prompted some teachers to get out of the system, so we are optimistic this will have a positive impact.”
Key recommendations from the task force include: