Every child in Oklahoma deserves to be inspired by the very power of education itself and the potential of a bright future, and Oklahoma’s teachers help to make this possible each day. They invest in children from all walks of life and ultimately leave an impact that extends far beyond the walls of our schools.
As our children return to the classroom in August, our teachers are returning from a full summer spent laying out new lesson plans, building a classroom to instill a sense of excitement and exploration, and preparing for the new children they will lead for the next 10 months.
Our teachers are on the front lines of making our shared vision of a Top Ten education system possible, and I am grateful for the Legislature’s partnership in making historic progress to better equip our educators for this new school year.
As of this school year, the state of Oklahoma is investing more state tax dollars into public schools, pre-K through 12th grade, than ever before in our history. More than $3 billion in state dollars supports the classroom, with an additional $300 million of state dollars also being designated annually outside the funding formula to support our teachers’ earned benefits.
The Legislature also supported my campaign promise for a second year of pay raises, continuing the momentum to bring our classroom experts to top in our region. As a result, the state has increased compensation between $7,200 and $9,200 per teacher since 2018.
As of this year, we are also fully funding the Reading Sufficiency Act for the first time since its inception, which will provide our state superintendent with resources to help ensure all students are reading on grade level by third grade.
Finally, we are investing an additional $18 million in our career techs and $28 million in our higher education institutions to ensure we are encouraging and fostering quality continuing education opportunities across the spectrum.
These are just the first steps to moving our education system toward Top Ten status.
Over the next few years, we will continue to focus on solutions that demonstrate our commitment to the education profession and that move the needle in outcomes for our students. We will set high standards; we will enact reforms; and we will break down silos as we reimagine education for the betterment of every person engaging with the system.
As we chart a bold course for education in Oklahoma, I ask you to join us. Positive change cannot be accomplished by state government alone. Run for a local school board seat or volunteer as a mentor in a classroom. We must stand arm-in-arm with administrators, teachers, students, parents, and communities, in order to deliver better results for our children.
And most importantly, thank you to the fantastic Oklahoma teachers who have dedicated their careers and lives to investing in our students across the state, and good luck to all of those going back to school. I look forward to continuing to move the needle together.