By Rep. Mike Sanders
Schools across our district are opening doors to new and returning students over the next several weeks. Some have already started classes; others are busy still enrolling students, hosting parent nights, administering physicals and vaccines and more as children, parents, teachers, administrators and staff gear up for a new school year.
I encourage everyone to be on the lookout for school zones and school buses as you travel so we can keep our kiddos safe. Also, for those of you with children returning to school, please ask your child’s teacher what you can do as a parent to make their lives easier this school year. Teachers working in collaboration with parents equal successful students.
This year, teachers statewide received a pay raise that went into effect Aug. 1. This puts beginning year Oklahoma teachers among the highest pay rates in the region and all teachers at the 12th highest pay in the nation when cost of living is factored. Even teachers who already make above the state minimum salary schedule will get a raise. Raises are based upon years of experience and level of degree.
The two most important people in every school building are the student and the teacher. First, is the student. Our entire future hinges on how well we educate our children. We must ensure that each child that enters our public education system receives the teaching and skills they need to advance to the next grade level and eventually into higher learning and out into the work force. We also must assure that our students become good citizens who are willing to contribute positively to our communities so future generations can continue to enjoy our American way of life.
Aside from a parent, a teacher is often the most influential role model in a child’s life. They are the ones who can instill a love of learning and adapt to the individual needs of each child’s learning style. They are the ones who see the needs of each child and can gather additional resources to help ensure a child’s success in life.
Of course, we also need great leaders in our schools – principals and superintendents who can help foster a positive culture in our schools where teachers are free to achieve their own highest level of success. In addition to more pay, teachers often report that it is the culture of a school and their feeling valued that leads them to either want to stay in the profession or move on to other work.
During my service as state representative, I have met with area educators countless times. I value their commitment to our children and their work to make our state better. I strongly believe if we as parents, classroom teachers, administrators and policy makers, all pull on the same end of the rope, we can continue to build on the successes of 2018. Let’s keep up the good work.
I know I’ll continue to hear from many educators that this raise and the additional money given to education this year is still not enough. I can assure you that when the legislative session starts in February, the state budget will be our first priority, and education will be at the top of the list for state dollars.
In the meantime, have a safe and productive school year!
As always, I’d love to hear from you. I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@OKHouse.Gov or (405) 557-7407.