Cargill To Teachers: Go To Texas
The faulty logic in House Speaker Lance Cargill’s merit pay ideas for teachers is this: It completely ignores the fact Oklahoma continues to lag behind the nation in teachers’ salaries.
Cargill (R-Harrah) is putting his ideology before the horse. Any proposal that substantially changes the amount of money teachers are paid in this state should acknowledge Oklahoma has paid its teachers some of the lowest salaries in the nation for years and years. We need to catch up to or surpass national averages in teacher salaries before we tinker with an underfunded system.
Merit pay for teachers should be off the table until Cargill (pictured right) and the rest of the legislature make an even larger commitment to education in Oklahoma. Too often, Cargill and his fellow Republicans give hollow lip service to improving educational opportunities for Oklahomans as they work behind the scenes to starve the system of needed funding.
According to Cargill’s public relations firm, The Daily Oklahoman, the legislator “said he has given his last teacher pay raise without individual merit being considered in the increase considerations” (“Lawmakers want to know if teacher pay proposal is an idea with merit,” August 14, 2007). So there, teachers. Lance has spoken. On Tuesday, Cargill announced he would conduct an eight-week study on the issue. This “study” will include a series of orchestrated hearings designed to support Cargill’s ideas about merit pay.
Cargill’s blunt comments and the fact he would not allow an Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) official to attend Tuesday’s political stunt do not bode well for teachers. OEA is the primary teachers’ organization in the state.
In an ideal world, a merit pay system for teachers might work here. But, unfortunately, Oklahoma has major education funding problems. Until those problems are solved, the concept is wrong for a state that loses quality teachers each year to other states, especially Texas.
Willa The Winner
Democratic candidate Willa Johnson deserves kudos for her victory in Tuesday’s Oklahoma County Commissioner election. She will now face Republican Forest Claunch in a September 11 election.
Democrats need to pull together over the next few weeks to make sure Johnson wins the seat. Those who supported Debbie Blackburn, a former legislator, should now put all their wonderful energy and campaign skills into Johnson’s campaign. Blackburn received 2,039 votes, less than one hundred votes than Johnson’s total of 2,119.
Johnson is running for the District 1 seat once held by Jim Roth, who was recently appointed to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission by Gov. Brad Henry.