MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

September 3, 2013

State should pay for raises


— Calling for a $2,000 raise for Oklahoma public school teachers sounds great — until someone asks how school districts are supposed to get the money.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi called for the pay raises while speaking before the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

Barresi said the raises could be funded through surplus funds without increasing state appropriations.

It sounds like Barresi is looking for a good sound bite for her possible re-election bid in 2014.

Children need a quality education.

Teachers are, in many ways, the bridge to a child’s quality of life.

We should pay teachers like our futures depend on them. We can’t if the money is not available.

That’s the problem with Barresi calling for pay raises. It sounds awfully good on paper. It might get her some votes from teachers.

No school district that we are aware of is overflowing with cash.

Surpluses are there for valid reasons.

They help bridge the gap between the start of school and the first check from the state.

They are also there for emergencies. Pay raises are not emergencies.

We are not against pay raises for teachers. We might be very much in favor of them in the right economic times.

But this sounds suspiciously like campaign rhetoric.

The state superintendent should be calling for pay raises when the state has the money to pay for them.