Fact Check: Would school consolidation boost Oklahoma teacher salaries?

truth-o-meterIn a recent press release, Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) made some claims about how much Oklahoma might be able to improve teacher salaries through school consolidation. He said, “The state of Oregon has the exact same population as Oklahoma but more students and yet has only 200 school districts. I don’t find it a coincidence that their average teacher pay is $12,000 more than Oklahoma’s.”

Sen. Loveless is right that it’s not a coincidence, but he’s missed the mark on the reason why.

First of all, Oregon doesn’t have more students than Oklahoma. This year’s Fall enrollment in Oregon K-12 public schools was 567,098 students. That’s more than 114,000 fewer students than the 681,578 enrolled in Oklahoma.

Second, even with so many fewer students Oregon provides more funding for education. The most recent Census data shows that in fiscal year 2012 Oregon spent $5.54 billion dollars on K-12 public schools, about 10 percent more than the $5.02 billion spent in Oklahoma (these numbers include all state, federal, and local funding). On a per pupil basis, that means Oregon spent a full 27 percent more than Oklahoma. Oregon even spent more per pupil on administration ($731 in Oregon, compared to $664 in Oklahoma).

As we’ve explained before, there’s simply not enough money to be found in cutting administration to significantly improve Oklahoma’s rankings for spending on instruction. Voluntary consolidation of some districts could make sense — indeed, it’s already happening. But Sen. Loveless and other legislators who try to claim school consolidation is an alternative to increasing overall funding do not pass the fact check.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Perry joined OK Policy in January 2011. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism. Gene also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and has chaired the communications advisory committee for the State Priorities Partnership, a nationwide network of state fiscal policy think tanks. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kara Joy McKee, who is a Tulsa City Councilor.

7 thoughts on “Fact Check: Would school consolidation boost Oklahoma teacher salaries?

  1. Thanks for doing what every daily newspaper in the state should do, but especially the two or three major dailies. Fact checking should be normal print media news. We gave it up decades ago and now think tanks and academic groups have revived it as a specialty service.

  2. I thought the lottery was going to fix education! Wait…you didn’t really believe that pack of lies, did you?

  3. Loveless and his “enlightened” few should also review history. Oklahoma once had a school leadership plan which included County Superintendents. This plan didn’t work and those positions went away……why?? Local Control.

    These “big city dudes” are trying to shape Oklahoma in a way most Oklahomans don’t want, a move away from rural and to urban.

    I do want to thank this bully because he will cause Oklahoma Educators to eventually unite and stand up for what they believe then he and his will be voted out of office. You can only poke the pig so long and the legislature has almost reached that point. In a fight between legislators and educators who do you think will win? My money is on teachers…………

  4. Loveless sounds like the typical gold spoon in mouth that is ruining OK for generations to come. Their platform is just like Reagan’s. That almost bankrupted the U S. Reagan had to find a way to raise taxes to keep our good faith and credit alive. Now Oklahoma, Kansas and Wisconsin are on the brink of fiscal disaster because of irresponsible Republicans in their legislatures. They reward their cronies and business buddies with back door deals while heaping more in taxes on those with no wiggle room.

  5. But we do waist way to much on administrators. Way to many. It may not be the answer to
    Our money issues but would be sensable. Some of these dudes are making rediculous amounts of money.

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