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Did You Know That Oklahoma Teachers Make Less Than Gas Station Workers?

12 April 2018 Breaking News, Education No Comment


By Ryan Velez

Posted April 12th 2018


In the U.S. it’s been commonly held that teachers aren’t getting paid or respected in a way that reflects their value to the country and its future. A recent West Virginia teacher strike gave this some limelight, but CNBC reports that they’re not actually the lowest paid teachers. That dubious honor goes to Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, the average annual income for a high school teacher is $42,460. Many make much less. This is the case for Larry Cagle, who teaches an Advanced Placement course at Edison Preparatory School in Tulsa. Cagle says that he makes just $34,500 a year working for one of the best schools in the state, and plans a strike for his state’s teachers as well.

“I am struggling to pay my bills,” he tells the Los Angeles Times. “A student graduating from my class can become a QuikTrip full-time employee a year, two years later, making more than me.” Indeed explains that assistant store managers at QuikTrip in Oklahoma –a local gas station and convenience store chain — make approximately $60,774 a year. Other figures suggest that assistant QuikTrip managers in Oklahoma earn closer to $44,018 a year. Either way, it is likely that in Oklahoma, many gas station employees are out-earning teachers.

Pay disparity varies state-to-state. The BLS reports that the lowest-paid 10 percent of high school teachers earn less than $38,180 and the highest 10 percent earn more than $92,920. In Texas, the average salary is $55,500. As a result, many teachers are trying to move over to the neighboring state. Such was the case for Shawn Sheehan, Oklahoma’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.

Last year he told NPR, “It feels good because I know I’m doing the right thing for my family, but it also feels sad.” At the time Sheehan and his wife Kaysi, also a public school teacher, brought in $3,600 a month. “After all bills are paid, we’re sitting on about $400-450 per month,” he explains.

“We have a really hard time holding on to our wonderful folks and recruiting others,” said Deborah Gist, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, which has 3,000 educators and 40,000 students. “We lost 22 percent of our teachers last year, and over the last couple of years, more than 30 percent in total.”


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