First of all, this observer does not think that the current teacher pay rates here in the state of Oklahoma are all that out of balance with other states. There is no great struggle to keep teachers here; remember, that while our salaries as a number may be lower than other states, it is cheaper to live here and thus we find that teacher salaries are more or less appropriate.
But everyone else seems quite decided that notwithstanding the above, teachers ought to be paid more in Oklahoma. Never mind that the budget is already in a precarious position (though not as much as they would have us think a few months ago) and that our local economies are already bowing under the burden of inordinately high sales taxes. No, never mind all that. Teachers must be paid more, apparently, all “for the children” or something.
Very well. Conveniently, we have just found $140 million dollars in the crevices of the state budget. A substantial sum which might be better off in the rainy day fund, but if it will prevent a tax hike down the road, let’s put it towards teacher pay raises. Only problem? Well, there are several problems, but the most obvious is that the interested parties aren’t all that interested in this proposal.
Apparently if it does not require the implementation of a new tax, nobody cares. Boren has called this proposal a “band-aid” solution (as if all government solutions aren’t) and naturally opposes it. He is concerned that four day weeks in schools will continue, that textbook funds and programs that improve graduation and reading rates will be cut. But if this plan goes forward, the $140 million to teachers, it renders Boren’s state question useless; which is the last thing that Boren and his cronies in higher education wants.
For it is obvious that the real purpose of the state question is to further line the pockets of higher education, with only a pittance given to public education. Oh, sure, it’s proclaimed as the solution to the teacher crisis, and so long as it is seen in such a way, it will pass. But in effect, if our concern really is public education, the real band aid proposal is Boren’s.
Of course, he is partly right. This is a band aid solution too. In effect, it’s like finding another twenty dollar bill in your wallet that you forgot you had and giving it to someone as a birthday gift. Is it tacky? Definitely. But hey, it’s money, so how bad can it be? The problem is an extra twenty dollar bill may not be there when the next birthday rolls around.
There is no telling what our state’s tax receipts will look like next year, and if the new pay rate can be continued without a drastic raise in taxes. I wish instead that this would be considered a “bonus” to teachers in the state, instead of a permanent raise.
But either way, I think the tax hike is inevitable. “For the children,” you know.