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Gov. Henry asked for teacher pay increase

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Gov. Brad Henry urge lawmakers at the State Capitol to raise the state's teacher salary to match the regional average.

The governor estimated an average of $1,200 pay increase will take Oklahoma teachers to the regional level.

"We have great teachers in Oklahoma, but until we pay them a competitive wage, we will continue to lose our best and brightest educators to Texas and other states that offer better salaries," said Henry in a press release.  "We need to keep the promise we made to our teachers and raise their pay to the regional average."

According to the most current salary data reported by the states to the National Education Association, the average teacher salary in Oklahoma is $42,379; the regional average is $43,519; and the national average is $50,816.  

Oklahoma ranks 48th on the U.S. teacher pay scale.

At least one teacher fears if salaries don't go up, more teachers will move out of state.

"My family is here, I'm here. I'm not looking to go somewhere else. That doesn't mean if the right opportunity came I wouldn't take it," said Kristy Crabtree, an Oklahoma public school teacher. "But for these new teachers coming in, they're going to go to states [where they can be] making more money."

In 2004, the governor proposed a multi-year effort to boost teacher compensation. The pay raise passed in the legislature as an effort to attract and retain high-quality teachers.

"This is not an across-the-board raise. The more classroom experience a teacher has, the larger the pay raise," said the governor.

If this year's raise passes, Oklahoma teachers will have gotten pay raises for five years in a row. Lawmakers have raised teachers' pay incrementally each year, but still need to approve another raise this year to hit the regional average.

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