Lawmakers Push Back After LOFT's Report Concerning Teacher Salaries In State

Wednesday, January 5th 2022, 6:21 pm

A Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) report released this week is raising questions.

The report claimed teachers in Oklahoma make the highest salary in the region. 

In recent years, Oklahoma has generally ranked in the mid-range when it comes to state-to-state comparisons of teacher salaries, according to the long-used comparisons provided by the National Education Association. 

The LOFT report said the committee came to their conclusion by including factors like the cost of living and tax burden in the state. 

Democratic lawmakers pushed back this week and said the report doesn’t fairly address teacher compensation. 

“It's not helpful. If you want and honest look at where our teachers are at compared to nationwide and compared to regionally, you really need apples to apples. Once you start adding in multitude of other factors that may or may not be measured in other states or the surrounding area, then it becomes convoluted,” said Melissa Provenzano, representative of House District 79. 

Colleges preparing teachers to enter the field said issues with teacher recruitment and retention are much broader than state-to-state competitiveness. 

“Other than pay, it's about respect, being treated with respect in the profession, and I think that the executive summary kind of touches on both of those items, whereas the executive summary I think makes a case for our competitiveness in our salary, don’t think that's what teachers, or future teachers perceive,” said Bryan Duke, interim dean of UCO College of Education. 

He said the career-long, low-pay for teachers compared to other fields de-incentivizes people over time. 

“Motive to go in, to make a change, to be part of a profession that has such great purpose, gets lost when they see the reality of the conditions that they have to face,” he said. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the LOFT report was produced too rapidly to capture all available information about the state’s teacher shortage, which was a 90-day process. 

“I’m glad we’re talking about this, but our kids can’t wait, and our families and our state can’t wait to figure out what it takes to attract and retain teachers. We already have those answers,” she said. 

UCO administrators said state stipends to support teacher’s as they get their credentials and other financial supports long term are needed to keep teachers in the classroom. 


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