Because of Oklahoma’s financial crisis, many Oklahoman teachers are leaving to other states for better-paying teaching jobs.
In 1992, Oklahoma created a ballot initiative. And it stated that Oklahoma would only raise taxes if it possessed a three-quarters majority in the state assembly. Since then, many tax cuts have also been passed. And said tax cuts, in a way, have become permanent. As a result, Oklahoma is currently in financial difficulties.
Oklahoma’s schools have been especially affected. Currently, over 90 districts are only offering four-day weeks. And teachers, in order to be able to supplement their income, have to work once a week elsewhere. Many Oklahoman pedagogues work on Mondays at Walmart. What is also surprising is that teachers of this state have not received a raise in 10 years.
So teachers are leaving. They have no choice. Shawn Sheehan, a high school math teacher who was named Teacher of the Year in 2016, left for Texas. As a matter of fact, he moved to Dallas shortly after receiving the prestigious award. In Oklahoma, teachers also pay a lot of money for health insurance. A married professor could pay up to $1,000 a month for health insurance. And teacher assistants struggle even more, for they are not payed enough to be able to cover their insurance plans. They basically are paying in order to be able to work. Thus, teachers have no choice but to get, for example, food stamps. Others get leftovers from school food-bank drives.
Police officers, for instance, are also struggling. They cannot even fill their gas-tanks completely. And Oklahoma’s prisons are collapsing. According to Paul Hill, a professor at the University of Washington Bothell, four-day weeks may not really make a difference in the state’s economy. At most, there will be a two percent difference. But Kent Holbrook, a superintendent of public schools in Inola, disagrees. Even small savings matter. Holbrook thinks that such sliver could save him four or six teachers. He has already lost at least 10 professors. Not only that, but he has reduced foreign language programs. He has also not been able to purchase textbooks on time.