The real numbers
Aside from the groveling of Senator Griffin and Rep. Cockcroft the majority of the legislators this year are being cautious not to inflate expectations for a teacher pay raise. The money simply isn’t there unless they intend to gut the other core government services and we also need to look at if we are paying competitive wages that are consistent with the cost of living in Oklahoma and in line with average Oklahoma salaries.
Despite the perpetual poor mouthing by educators and their lobbyists Oklahoma spending on education is at an all time high, $12,481.00 per student. The average pupil per teacher is 16 so assuming there is one teacher per 16 kids a total of $199,696 is spent per teacher per year. Average teacher salary, health care program, and retirement benefits is $53,567.21 so just over one fourth of the money is going to pay teacher salaries. Instructional hours are 1080 in Oklahoma so the average teacher earns $49.60 per hour.
Last year we spent 8.2 billion dollars on Oklahoma education.
According to the OCPA Oklahoma public schools receive money from four sources, general appropriations where the money comes from state tax collections, off the top funds coming from state tax collections, federal money for school meal programs, disability, anti poverty, and limited English skills programs and local property taxes set by county governments..
There are liberal think tank reports out there claiming that Oklahoma isn’t spending as much as surrounding states but they omit the 1017 funds, contributions to the teacher retirement system, all in an effort to create competition between the states to drive teacher salaries higher and higher.
Since the early nineties Oklahoma has seen:
- an increase in students by 14%
- an increase in teachers by 13%
- an increase in total staff b 23%
- an increase in non teaching staff by 34%
Had we kept non-teaching staff members constant we would have an annual savings of $294.1 million dollars per year. The cost to increase teacher pay by $5,000 is around $285 million per year.
Schools don’t have a budget problem; they have a wasteful spending problem. The bureaucratic administration is bloated, the system takes on federal money that imposes strict guidelines and reporting that require even more staff so state money is diverted from the teacher’s paychecks into the bloated administration. We have a surplus of diversity experts, counselors, and life coaches and an abundance of useless sports coaches, highly paid superintendents, and Taj Mahal edifices that are a far cry away from the economical concrete block schools used when I was a kid.