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Study: Oklahoma teacher pay gap is second highest in the nation

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A study of national wage data shows Oklahoma teachers have one of the largest pay disparities in the country when compared to workers with similar jobs.

The study by the Economic Policy Institute finds that Oklahoma teachers are paid more than 30 percent less than their college-educated counterparts.

The gap between college-educated workers and teachers is nationwide and can be found in every state.

“Simply put, teachers are paid less (in weekly wages and total compensation) than their non-teacher college-educated counterparts, and the situation has worsened considerably over time,” study author Sylvia Allegretto wrote. “Providing teachers with compensation commensurate with that of other similarly educated professionals is not simply a matter of fairness but is necessary to improve educational outcomes and foster future economic stability of workers, their families and communities across the U.S.”

Oklahoma’s gap is particularly large. It’s the second-largest percentage gap in the country, trailing only Colorado.

Teacher pay has been on the rise in Oklahoma over the last five years. But still, the average annual salary is about $54,000, per the National Education Association. That puts Oklahoma squarely in the middle of the region when compared to bordering states. The average teacher in Colorado makes a little more than $60,000 a year.

Researchers found that generally, teacher pay gaps are only growing nationally. Teacher pay has been relatively flat as pay for college-educated workers has grown.

Robby Korth joined StateImpact Oklahoma in October 2019, focusing on education reporting.
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