Tuesday, April 10, 2018

OCPA column: The $106K Teacher

The $106K teacher
by OCPA president Jonathan Small

School choice is good for teachers. With so much focus on education policy right now, that’s an important fact.

Calculating the pay raise, Oklahoma teachers rank 31st in raw dollars nationally. Economist Byron Schlomach, a scholar-in-residence at the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at Oklahoma State University, calculated that, thanks to the new pay raise, Oklahoma’s cost-of-living-adjusted teacher pay is now 11th in the nation. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister noted the pay raise moves us up to 2nd in the region, just behind Texas which has no income tax.

That’s good news. But consider this: The highest paid public-school teacher in Oklahoma actually teaches at Epic Charter School. She makes $106,324.

This according to Tulsa World reporter Andrea Eger. Because of robust enrollment growth – driven by bullying in the public schools and other factors – Epic is now actively hiring teachers. Epic now has more than 5,000 teaching applications. Average pay is $63,000.

Jessica Stogner, who formerly taught in the Broken Arrow school district, told the Tulsa World: “It is the most rigorous hiring process I’ve ever been through. It was nice – it makes you feel kind of elite.”

“This is the only place I know of where there is the potential that compensation for teachers could be more than administrators,” she said. “Public school salaries are public, and we all check them. When you look at those numbers – and the huge discrepancies between even building-level administrators and teachers – it’s a little disheartening.”

Also, some teachers prefer to work in private schools (even though the compensation is typically lower than in public schools) because they prefer the orderly (and often values-based) school culture.

Expanding Oklahoma’s current school voucher and tax credit programs will expand opportunities for teachers.

It will also benefit these teachers in their role as parents. A 2016 SoonerPoll survey commissioned by The Oklahoman found that nearly four in 10 Oklahoma teachers say a private school or homeschooling would be the best educational choice for their own children.

Fortunately, this new $6,100 pay raise will help – average private school tuition in Oklahoma is $4,588 for elementary schools and $6,243 for high schools, according to Private School Review – but vouchers and tax credits would help even more.

The education landscape is changing. (Check out the Oklahoma-based Edupreneur Academy, a great resource for leaders of charter, private, and conversion schools.)

More choice and opportunity are good for teachers, too.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs


Post a Comment

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME when commenting. Anonymous comments may be rejected if NOT accompanied by a name.

Comments are welcome, but remember - commenting on my blog is a privilege. Do not abuse that privilege, or your comment will be deleted.

Thank you for joining in the discussion at MuskogeePolitico.com! Your opinion is appreciated!