(Obviously, I’m in favor of much larger raises for teachers. So I propose a $10,000 raise over two years for all Oklahoma public school teachers, along with an immediate $2,000 bonus, a new laptop computer and a new tablet like an iPad. But, then, I’m not a great mind.-Kurt Hochenauer)
I find it a bit ironic that one of new Oklahoma Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s first major proposals is to try to raise teacher salaries here to the “regional average.”
Some might recall that in 2010 the Oklahoma Education Association, with campaign funding help from the National Education Association, tried to pass State Question 744, which would have raised all Oklahoma public education funding to the regional average. That conceivably could have led to teacher salaries at the regional average.
That question went down in resounding defeat when it was opposed by everyone from former Gov. Brad Henry to editorial writers at The Oklahoman to the supposed left-leaning David Blatt at the Oklahoma Policy Institute to the right-wing extremists at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Some token academics, too, were dusted off and brought out to shake their wise heads together in a collective “no” to SQ 744. Wise, wise people.
According to all these great minds back then, the world as we know it in Oklahoma would have changed radically if SQ 744 would have passed because of all the unspeakable yet certain devastation, most likely in the form of higher taxes on, say, oil and gas companies and a reduction of non-violent prisoners in our vastly overcrowded prisons.
So now along comes Hofmeister using the “regional average” language again in a press release right at the beginning of her term. Of course, this is probably sending shivers down the spines of the above mentioned people with the great minds who have led Oklahoma to one of the lowest education funding levels in the nation, overcrowded classrooms and a major teacher shortage. I’m sure the great minds will correct her soon.
I bet her correction goes like this: Joy, Oklahoma can’t be average. That’s nonsense. We’re at the bottom when it comes to education funding, and we’re always going to be at the bottom. Stop the “regional average” talk, please.
Under the Hofmeister plan, which I believe has little chance of passing given the state’s chronic budget shortfalls because of tax cuts for wealthy people and oil and gas companies, teachers’ salaries would eventually be raised $5,000 from 2012-2013 levels after “only” five years.
I would take the time to argue the raise is a tiny bandage for a gaping wound, but what’s the point since it’s highly unlikely the Oklahoma Legislature will seriously consider the raise, especially given what is now being called a $300 million state budget shortfall. The shortfall amount, however real it is or whatever strange way it gets calculated these days by the state’s great minds, is probably going to grow because a world oil glut caused by fracking has driven down the price of oil, which means even less revenue for the state in the form of gross production taxes.
Note to teachers: Hofmeister’s plan is hollow. It’s aimed at gaining your support, nothing more. If you can, you should flee the state and go someplace where teachers are more appreciated and paid a reasonable amount. If you can’t leave, try to do your best under mediocre conditions and constant harassment from the high-stakes testing advocates. Speak up when you can, but be careful about the backlash. Current state leaders and all the great minds I’ve mentioned in this post, no matter what they say, are definitely NOT on your side. They are on their OWN sides. You are simply a political playground for them.
Obviously, I’m in favor of much larger raises for teachers. So I propose a $10,000 raise over two years for all Oklahoma public school teachers, along with an immediate $2,000 bonus, a new laptop computer and a new tablet like an iPad. But, then, I’m not a great mind.