Oklahoma schools

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The Oklahoma Senate passed three bills that will help fund a teacher pay raise in Oklahoma.

As KOSU reports, the legislation increases teacher salaries an average of $6,000, and if signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin, it will be the first teacher pay raise in a decade.

Included in the legislation is an increase in taxes on oil and gas production, cigarettes and motor fuel and a bill that limits itemized deductions for Oklahoma taxpayers. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay out almost $7 billion this year through two safety-net programs that offer farmers some assistance during tough financial times.

While most of it goes to farmers who grow corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops, K-12 public schools also get a sliver of the total payout. That’s a benefit for often rural districts that are struggling due to state legislatures trimming back their cut of education funding.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

This year, Oklahoma lawmakers indicated once again that they were going to give teachers in the state raises. And, once again, the state Legislature failed to deliver.

The House even passed two budgets, one containing educator raises and one without them—and ultimately passed the one without raises.

Lawmakers couldn’t even pass a $1,000 teacher raise to keep up with inflation.

Shawn Sheehan / The Washington Post

Low teacher pay in Oklahoma has led to a high-profile defection. This week Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year announced he’s moving to Texas.

Shawn Sheehan currently teaches special education in Norman, and in addition to winning the award last year he was also a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

Sheehan says he loves teaching, and wouldn’t want to do anything else, but he just can’t do it in Oklahoma anymore. As a result, he and his wife have accepted positions in Texas, where teachers are paid at much higher rates.

Community After School Program

Many working parents in Oklahoma are having a hard time affording programs to occupy their children while they’re working, according to OklahomaWatch.

Both after-school programs and summer camps can be extremely costly, which means they sometimes aren’t an option for parents struggling to make ends meet.

Paul Hellstern / The Oklahoman

Oklahoma’s education superintendent has vowed that she will fight for a ballot measure that would provide $5,000 raises to Oklahoma’s teachers, reports NewsOK.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister indicated that she will support the legislation even though the measure isn’t ideal. Hofmeister said something must be done to address Oklahoma’s shrinking pool of teachers.