Most of the discussion on teacher pay in Oklahoma compared to other states has focused on the total compensation of teachers, since that’s what is typically used when making comparisons across states. As we recently discussed in our comparison of Oklahoma and West Virginia education funding, Oklahoma’s average 2016 teacher compensation was $45,276, ranking us lower than all but two other states.
However, in some ways that number actually overstates how Oklahoma’s teachers are faring by combining the take-home salary of teachers with the fringe benefits that pay for teachers’ health insurance. If teachers get health insurance through other means, they can use this flexible benefit allowance as taxable income, but most need it to cover their health insurance. Some districts add to those benefits by paying for things like dental, vision, life, and long-term disability insurance. These fringe benefits are important, but teachers can’t use them to cover basic expenses like food, rent, transportation, and other household needs.
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