Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.

Policy Research Fellow

Share:

Next fiscal year, the State Board of Education budget is set to increase by $480 million. The majority of this money will be used to provide pay raises to teachers, ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 with an average raise of $6,100. Before this raise, Oklahoma teacher salaries ranked 49 out of the 50 states and D.C., according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. After the pay raise, Oklahoma moves up to 31 in teacher pay nationally (based on current data for other states). When looking at regional teacher pay, Oklahoma moves from the bottom of the list to second, just behind Texas, with a new average salary of more than $51,000.

StateAnnual Pay
Texas$   52,575.00
Oklahoma *$   51,345.00
Arkansas$   48,616.00
Missouri$   48,293.00
Kansas$   47,984.00

* Additional $6,100 added from HB 1010xx

While these are substantial moves, when cost of living is taken into account Oklahoma nears the top ten nationally. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Oklahoma has the third lowest cost of living in the country. This means a dollar in Oklahoma goes much further than in nearly every other state. When an adjustment is made for cost of living, Oklahoma teachers’ average annual salary will rank 13th after the pay raise (again, based on current data for other states). Oklahoma stays in second compared to neighboring states, but the gap with Texas closes to $86 a year.

StateAnnual Pay
Texas$ 57,648.03
Oklahoma *$ 57,561.66
Arkansas$ 55,371.30
Missouri$ 53,718.58
Kansas$ 53,197.34

* Additional $6,100 added from HB 1010xx

While increasing teacher pay will not immediately change education outcomes for Oklahoma students, it does put Oklahoma in a much more competitive position to hire and retain teachers. Allowing districts more control over existing revenue could also help both teachers and students, and should be the next focus for the Legislature.

Policy Research Fellow

Share: