LOFTy Goals Indeed
I’m all for putting context into things; we do this all the time in history. When once it was considered acceptable to beat your wife with a rod no larger than your thumb (giving rise to the “thumb rule,”) that's not okay today. This practice arose in a time when women were seen almost like children in a marriage; therefore, they could be punished like children. I’m not saying this was right, but knowing the historical context certainly provides a bit of understanding that is not evident at face value.
My appreciation of context extends to a report I read from Oklahoma’s Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency called “Comprehensive Compensation for Oklahoma Teachers." You can read it here.
The report has three major findings. The first is when adjusted for cost-of- living and tax burden, the average Oklahoma teacher salary ranks 1st within the surrounding region and 21st in the nation.
You read that right! Oklahoma’s teacher compensation rate is 1st in the region! So, teachers, put away those past due notices and unpaid orthodontics bills. You are fairly compensated, nay, well compensated amongst your peers in the region. What a relief.
The report says they found no source that considers cost-of-living tax burdens in their analysis of teacher salary comparisons. Therefore, they have added context to the data they could find on teacher compensation. This could be helpful were it not so blatantly calculated to improve Oklahoma’s rankings. Could we now be considered a Top 10 State in education due to this revised thinking on teacher salary?
Noting that a third of reported salary rates includes health insurance and Social Security payments is commendable, but not analyzing the salary based upon take-home pay reveals dubious intent. Teachers cannot eat their Social Security benefits. They cannot pay the mortgage with health insurance dollars.
Should you choose to read this report, you will be swimming in a sea of data, charts and graphs that ostensibly prove their point. It is overwhelming and in this current climate many people will not have the time to devote to careful analysis of these statistics and conclusions. I am no statistician, but I know what it’s like to live on a teacher’s salary.
Instead of trying to prove that our teachers are fairly compensated already, alleviating the government of doing more to shore up the crumbling teacher pipeline, let’s work together to find solutions to get more students into the profession. That is a LOFTy goal, but it MUST happen. And soon.
January 20, 2022