However, according to numerous rankings, Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest paid in the U.S.
After 10 years of budget cuts, Oklahoma teachers struggled to convince lawmakers to increase their salaries and provide them with more resources.
Since the teacher walkouts in 2018, their stipulations have found momentum but continue to fall short of teachers’ needs.
Questions concerning teachers’ salaries have been raised again with the appearance of:
- Tax increases
- Other hardships
In this post, we’ll discuss average teacher salaries in Oklahoma City and compare them to other districts and states, track trends in salaries over time, and look at potential change for teachers’ pay in the future.
Average Teacher Salary in Oklahoma City by Level of Education
According to State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister, the state minimum teacher salary schedule for the 2020-2021 school year was a minimum of $36,601. This was for teachers with zero years of experience who had a bachelor’s degree and no national board certification.
Meanwhile, a teacher with no experience and a doctorate received a minimum of $39,381.
After 25 years of experience, teachers saw a pay increase. Those with a bachelor’s degree received a minimum of $50,049, and those with a doctorate were paid a minimum of $54,395 per year.
Teachers with bachelor’s or master’s degrees received a pay increase of about $1,158 a year for acquiring a national board certification.
Average Teacher Salary in Oklahoma County vs Other Districts
On average, rural and urban teachers get similar paychecks based on their credentials.
Oklahoma Watch posted earnings for April 2014 showing the average pay in the Oklahoma City school district for teachers was $46,635. Their starting pay was $32,925. Since then, average pay has gone up to about $52,000 and minimum starting pay to about $36,000.
Both the average teachers’ salary and starting salary fluctuate between $1,000 to $5,000 for various counties and cities.
In 2018, The Oklahoman reported that Crooked Oaks Schools in Oklahoma County had the state’s highest starting salary at $37,985, which had increased from a starting pay of $32,504 in 2014.
In 2020, starting salary went up and the Crooked Oaks School district was surpassed as the highest paying district by Putnam City at $45,161.
Average Teacher Salary in Oklahoma City vs Other States
Nationally, teacher salaries have increased over the past decade. However, after adjusting for the current market many Oklahoma teachers’ salaries have dipped by 3% from 2010 to 2020, meaning their purchasing power decreased while their salaries increased.
Oklahoma Watch reported the U.S. average teacher salary in 2012-2013 was $56,103.
The highest-paid teachers lived in New York and earned an average salary of $75,279 a year. Meanwhile, teachers in South Dakota were paid the lowest and earned an average of $39,018 a year.
Overtime pay has increased, and in 2019-2020 the average teacher salary increased to $63,645. New York still takes the lead in pay at an average of $87,543, while Mississippi has fallen to the lowest average of $45,192. Many average state salaries overall fell just below the average teacher salary, except for the District of Columbia.
According to Business.org, Oklahoma teacher pay in 2019-2020 averaged 21 out of 51 at $54,038 a year, making about $6,698 more a year than the average Oklahoman.
How Is Teacher Salary Determined in Oklahoma?
A teacher’s salary in Oklahoma is dependent on a few factors:
- State minimum base pay.
- Compensation for extracurricular activities or mentoring within the school system.
- Student performance.
- Funding allocated for the school where they teach.
- Level of education and qualifications.
A report from December 2021 by the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) adjusted the cost-of-living and tax burden for Oklahoma teachers. This changed the average teacher salary ranking to first in the region and 21st in the nation.
However, LOFT’s numbers show the total compensation before deducting Social Security, retirement, health insurance, and other benefits.
Loft found that these benefits averaged about $16,900 per teacher in 2019. This means teachers are actually bringing home about $37,000 a year to live on.
From 2008 to 2019, the average teacher salary increased but not always enough to offset the inflation rate.
The inconsistency of rank and how each entity calculates average salaries only muddles our understanding of the situation.
The LOFT report shows USA Today ranking Oklahoma as 48th, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranking Oklahoma 47th (for elementary school teachers, except for special education), National Education Association ranking Oklahoma 37th, and U.S. Department of Education ranking Oklahoma 33rd in the nation in 2020.
The Future of Education in Oklahoma
After two back-to-back pay raises for Oklahoma public schools’ certified teachers during 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, the workforce growth seemed to be getting back on track.
However, with the statewide school closures in 2020 due to Covid-19, the growth came to a halt.
Teachers and students had to make unprecedented adjustments and the focus shifted to online learning. The stress and workload became too burdensome for many teachers, and the state teacher shortage became a problem once more.
Nonaccredited teachers received emergency certifications in increasing numbers to help fill the gap quickly. Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds were awarded to state and local educational agencies to help.
During the pandemic, many teachers found their roles had changed. Not only were they having to learn and figure out a new method of teaching online while providing tech support, but many were also juggling both in-person and online teaching.
Teachers provide support to students’ families in a wide range of other ways, including many personal and domestic issues that they may not feel qualified to deal with.
Earlier this year, Governor Kevin Stitt stated he wants some teachers who qualify to get paid a six-figure salary. However, this has been met with some controversy. Many believe the merit-based qualifications will lead to a more unpleasant workplace, causing more teachers to leave, and some fear that it will exclude some underserved areas which may not qualify by test scores but need help.
It’s unclear what the future of education in Oklahoma will look like. Even though details of recent legislation House Bill 4387 and 4388 still need to be weeded out, it is clear that most people believe teachers need a raise and want to support the future of Oklahoma education.
Oklahoma City is growing. Inflation is on the rise. Education in our state is at risk of suffering more due to teacher salaries failing to keep up with the market.
It’s unclear whether the recent statistical rankings take into account the stress and added responsibilities teachers have had to overcome in this new normal. However, looking at the teacher attrition rate gives us insight.
Based on these numbers, it would seem that not enough is being done to keep Oklahoma teachers committed to their profession. Investing more in our teachers and finding a way to increase their pay will likely lead to positive changes for our children, schools, and ultimately our local and national economies.