‘Why is Our Expertise Not Treated the Same?’

By Tim Walker for nea.org

Oklahoma has one of the largest teacher pay penalties in the United States at 29%. That is, the average public school teacher in the state earns 29% less in weekly wages than other college-educated workers with similar experience.

That gap, says Shawna Mott-Wright, president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, makes it extremely difficult to recruit and retain good educators into the profession. Oklahoma, which ranks 34th in the nation in average teacher salaries, according to the National Education Association, has the fourth largest teacher penalty.

“The pay here is abysmal,” says Mott-Wright. ”One-fourth of our members have second jobs, and half of that group has three jobs. How is this supposed to help our students? Well, it doesn’t.”

Mott-Wright was talking about the erosion of competitive educator salaries during a webinar on Oct. 14 sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which also included NEA President Becky Pringle, and EPI researchers Lawrence Mishel and Sylvia Allegretto. (You can watch the webinar below)

A few weeks ago, EPI released its latest survey of the teacher pay gap. On the surface at least, the report revealed some encouraging news: nationally the pay gap actually decreased from 22% in 2018 to 19% in 2019.

This decline may be the result of the successful #RedforEd protests that swept through many parts of the nation in 2018 and 2019.

Read more here.

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