Oklahoma Teachers Won't Get Raises After Ballot Question Fails - KOAM TV 7

Oklahoma Teachers Won't Get Raises After Ballot Question Fails


State question 779 in Oklahoma failed to pass by popular vote on election night.  A penny sales tax that would've given teachers some much-needed raises. So what do they do now?
Stacy Craig loves teaching middle school geography.
“I really, really do. I mean teaching, is truly is a calling,” says Will Rogers Middle School teacher Stacy Craig.
In order to make ends meet for her 5 children, she has to work a second job as a nurse at Freeman Hospital.
“Obviously teacher pay, it could be better. And I know lots of teachers who work in this building that work more than 1 job,” she says.
Craig and her coworker Nick Highsmith have never gotten raises in their time at Will Rogers Middle School, along with many other teachers in the district. Their hopes for a $5,000 pay increase were dashed on Election Day, when a proposed sales tax increase failed.
“It’s a setback and it’s discouraging but you saw teachers the very next day in the classroom working hard and I think you’ll continue to see that but Oklahomans need to realize that teachers can't do it forever and they can't do it for free either,” says Highsmith, an 8th grade history teacher.
The state of Oklahoma is 50th in the nation with the lowest teachers’ pay. Last year alone, 17 teachers left the Miami School District to work in Missouri or Kansas. Superintendent Jeremy Hogan says since the state question did not pass, more teachers will be prompted to do the same.
“It tells teachers that education is not a priority in our state at this time. We can't get any lower. So our state has to step up. It’s time for them to step up, it’s time for them to fund education,” says Hogan.
Both Craig and Highsmith say they may not have time to wait for that funding.
“I’ve committed my life to this profession and this is home I don’t want to go anywhere else but after seeing this fail and starting to lose hope a little bit in that a solution would come forward, it’s a possibility,” says Highsmith.
“To be honest, the smarter thing for me and my family would be to move,” adds Craig.
The school district is already operating at an all-time low and there's no money left in the budget for raises.
The failed sales tax increase also included funding to increase resources in the classroom and education opportunities for students.

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