Evidently not much in Oklahoma. We spend a considerable amount of money for education in Oklahoma, but it is not going where most Oklahomans think. Teachers, next time we ask for more money for education, we should make sure we say money that goes straight to the classroom with no stops along the way.
The education budget primarily funds the salaries of those working in education agencies and the remainder then dribbles down to the classroom teachers and students. According to a study by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), the average teacher salary in Oklahoma is $38, 271 compared to an average salary of $74, 562 at the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System, $70, 655 at the Commission for Teacher Preparation, and $65, 581 at the State Department of Education.
What’s wrong with this picture?
To make matters worse, I am hearing from teachers all over the state about the duties they have to do in addition to teaching, such as staying late to clean the school’s bathrooms. Do any of the highly paid education agency workers do that? Didn’t think so.
Any CEO worth their salt knows that during down economic times, you look at how you are spending money. That is exactly what Oklahoma must do. Let’s revamp our education funding system by diverting money from agencies and get it to where it will make a real difference: in the classroom with a great teacher. That’s where our kids’ lives are shaped every day. Only then will we see what great potential Oklahoma education truly has.
About the author: Ginger Tinney is the executive director of Professional Oklahoma Educators, a non-union, nonpartisan professional association for all school personnel. www.ProfessionalOklahomaEducators.org.