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Analysis: Oklahoma Teacher Pay Has Improved Compared To Neighboring States

Oklahoma isn’t in last place.

In fact, teacher pay raises during the 2017 and 2018 sessions mean that over the last five years Oklahoma has actually seen the largest percent increase in average teacher pay.

That’s according to a new analysis by the Oklahoma State School Board’s Association of national state teacher pay rankings from the National Education Association.

The average teacher makes $54,256 annually in pay and benefits in Oklahoma, a 20% increase from $45,292 in the 2016-17 school year.

Oklahoma State School Boards Association

The legislature had approved a combined $7,300 pay increase in 2017 and 2018. But districts’ putting their own money into salary increases also contributed to the increase.

OSSBA’s Executive Director Shawn Hime wrote in an open letter to the group’s members that the numbers reveal the power of advocacy and the significance of pay raises leading up to the 2018 teacher walkout.

“The new teacher pay data shows back-to-back pay increases in 2017 and 2018 as well as new education funding in 2019 have helped Oklahoma lead the region in teacher pay increases over the last five years,” Hime wrote. “But it also highlights the importance of continued investment in public education to remain competitive with other states and reduce the teacher shortage.”

As Oklahoma increased its teacher pay, though, its neighbors did the same.

Oklahoma continues to lag behind Colorado, Texas and New Mexico but now has higher average salaries than Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.

Oklahoma State School Boards Association

Lagging salaries have long been blamed for a teacher workforce shortage, though in the last school year the state actually saw a drop in emergency certified teachers.

And though salaries have improved, the state continues to be in last place for overall education investment for common education, according to an OSSBA analysis last fall.


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Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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