Statement from OSSBA Executive Director Shawn Hime on Education Funding and Teacher Pay Raise Plan:
I applaud state representatives for taking an important first step toward a long-term funding plan for public schools that includes competitive teacher pay. Our teachers, students and schools need this. This plan addresses the most immediate crisis in our classrooms: the shrinking pool of educators willing to teach in Oklahoma.
Enacting the largest teacher pay raise in state history and increasing teacher pay above the regional average will strengthen the teacher pipeline. Offering the largest raises to the state’s most experienced educators ensures Oklahoma can retain top talent while recruiting the best and brightest young people to the profession. Additional funding for operations and a support employee pay raise recognize the damaging cumulative effect of prior budget cuts and the critical role instructional aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other support employees play in the lives of our children.
Investing in education isn’t a one-time event, and this plan must be only the beginning of a new chapter for supporting public education in Oklahoma. Schools need funding to hire back teachers to help reduce class sizes. They also need resources to better equip classrooms, provide more educational opportunities for students and offer much-needed health and mental health support services.
I urge the Senate to pass this plan. Our teachers and students have waited long enough.