When the teachers union released its spending demands last week, two things were missing. One was any plan to find the resources, either in other parts of government or through tax increases. The other was the total cost.
The Oklahoma Education Association’s spreadsheet left out the full cost of the union’s demands, but the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has filled in the details. As you can see below, by the third year (fiscal year 2021) the price tag would be $1.4 billion.
Another data point often left out is how Oklahoma teacher salaries really compare to other states. This author can attest, after living on both the West and East Costs, to just how much farther a dollar stretches in Oklahoma. Every recent analysis shows that Oklahoma teacher pay jumps to between 30th and 35th in the nation once cost of living is considered.
- 1889 Institute’s “Teacher Pay: Facts to Consider”
- EdSurge’s “Where Do U.S. Teacher Salaries Really Go the Furthest?”
- Kahler Financial’s “Comparison of Teacher Salaries Adjusted for Purchasing Power”
The recent teacher walk out in West Virginia is said to have inspired Oklahoma activists. When you consider the actual value of teacher pay in those states, it turns out that West Virginia teachers were simply asking to be brought up to about the level where Oklahoma teachers are already.