15th & 49th

Something has been gnawing at me for months, and I can’t keep silent any longer. A few nights ago, a friend posted this graphic on Facebook, which I shared.

File Jan 31, 9 00 36 PM

 

I’ve actually known this for about a year. Oklahoma legislators’ base salary is $38,500. Just for comparison, I’ll tell you my base salary is $36,076.62. That’s with 9 years of experience AND a master’s degree. In addition, Oklahoma legislators who live more than 50 miles from Oklahoma City receive a $160/day per diem during session.

 

Here are a few other comparisons:

 

Senators must be at least 25 years old and representatives must be at least 21 years old. Both must be residents in the district they represent for at least six months prior to their election. Educators must hold a college degree, preferably in education. They must pass a minimum of three examinations (OGET, OSAT, and OPTE) to be certified. Some disciplines, like high school math and science, require multiple OSAT’s so candidates will be qualified to teach all the courses that fall into that discipline.

 

Oklahoma legislators begin the legislative session on the first Monday in February, and end on the last Friday in May. This year, that’s 117 days INCLUDING weekends. Without weekends, it’s 83 days. As a teacher, my contract is for 180 days each year.

A teacher with a master’s degree will work 14 years before his/her pay equals that of our legislators.  A teacher with a bachelor’s will need to put in 17 years.

 

I want to make it clear that I do not find fault with any profession being compensated with a competitive and appropriate wage. I do, however, find it a hard pill to swallow that our legislators are content to accept their paycheck that places them 15th in the nation for state legislator compensation, while failing to raise teacher pay above 49th in the nation. I find it an especially hard pill to swallow while listening to justifications for low teacher pay like: 1.) Teachers only work 9 months out of the year 2.) The cost of living in Oklahoma is lower than other states   3.) Teacher pay should be tied to performance (have you checked out our state budget issues? Do legislators want their pay tied to performance?)

 

[This is where I wrote something particularly snarky about hypocrisy, but I took it out. Draw your own conclusions.]

 

Our legislators didn’t set their own pay, so I can’t blame them for taking home a reasonable wage for their work. I can and do blame them for failing to find a way to fund teacher salaries that keep us competitive with our neighboring states. Enough excuses. Fund education. Pay teachers…

 

Or I invite any legislator to justify why you deserve to bring home a higher salary than I do.

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5 thoughts on “15th & 49th

  1. You know, we really shouldnt be looking at the legislators….look a little closer to home – how about who writes the checks? Like maybe your district admin. Check out some of their paychecks…..check out the number of administrators we have in the state, as opposed to hiw many students in those districts. Every school system i have heard of in this state pays so much more to their administration than anyone who actually works with the children.
    THIS is where changes need to be made. Not more taxes, -more correct, intelligent and ethical use of the money in our education system.

    Like

    1. Betty, I disagree. Over the last 8 years, Oklahoma has seen the deepest cuts to educational spending in the country, while growing by about 40,000 students. In addition, we’ve seen an increase in the number of [unfunded] mandates that require additional administrative work. There is a mountain of reporting at the state and federal level that must be completed. The increased emphasis on high stakes testing, for instance, has increased the amount of administrative work necessary to operate (coordinators, remediation teams, federal and state reporting, etc.)
      Do you expect school districts to educate MORE students with nearly 25% LESS money than we had 8 years ago?
      Check out this report that shows you where the money goes in education:

      http://okpolicy.org/oklahomas-public-schools-have-relatively-low-administration-costs

      Like

  2. Yes…and those same legislators don’t have to have a degree! I’m not sure if you’ve visited the house chambers, but the reps may or may not be paying attention and it’s not uncommon for them to be texting while in session. Uuuug!! So frustrating!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed reading this post. I found it very informative and shocking in many ways. I have only been teaching for 6 years and am not very knowledgeable the politics that go along with public education. I am a science teacher and while I understand challenging concepts within my subject areas, government and legal issues is not something I fully understand. I would like to be more informed and begin to be involved so thank you for helping me understand!

    Liked by 1 person

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