I recently covered a story about Shawn Sheehan, a former Oklahoma State Teacher of The Year, leaving Oklahoma to teach in Texas for better pay, and I brought up that Oklahoma would suffer from this. Today, I’m going to dive a little deeper into why this will hurt Oklahoma.

“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time.” – Alan Watts

I’m using this quote to emphasize that money should not be the determining factor when finding a job that you love. In an ideal world, all jobs would have good pay while also being representative of the amount of work put in. However, since that is not the case, you have teachers like Sheehan moving states because they are unable to make a comfortable living.

According to Stillwater News Press, regarding Oklahoma, “The State Legislature, for the second consecutive year, has failed to include any structural revenue changes significant enough to adequately fund education. Bills to raise teacher salaries died on the floor, as Republicans refused to increase the gross production tax to levels widely seen around the country, and Gov. Mary Fallin’s idea to remove sales tax exemptions for a laundry list of services was (we believe, wisely) rejected.”

So, in Sheehan’s case, is it really fair to tell him to not focus on the money? Especially when he and his wife are receiving a $40,000 per year pay bump, just by simply moving to Texas.

Why is this a problem, though? People are always moving to different states for jobs, right?

Here’s the biggest problem with the pay difference between Oklahoma and Texas, where are the good teachers supposed to come from?

In a market that, even in Texas, is highly underpaid for the amount of work put in, why would a great teacher choose to get paid less? Maybe they have family in Oklahoma, or friends, but we’re asking these teachers, that are likely putting in the same work as teachers in Texas, to stay and make significantly less money.

Ultimately, the students are who suffer, and that is the saddest part. These teachers are effectively forced out of Oklahoma due to low pay, and the school districts continue getting worse for students.

“What jobs do Oklahomans hope to attract to our state if our education system continues to suffer? One of the first things companies and parents do when considering moving to a new city is check out the school system. In Norman, we’re lucky to have an excellent one.” – Stillwater News Press.


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