Tahlequah Daily Press


August 15, 2013

Need a job? The Regents are paying

NEW YORK — As of today – Wednesday, Aug. 14 – Tahlequah Public Schools students will be back in class. Many of their peers in the rural areas were already hitting the books.

Another group of people started class even earlier, though that fact is seldom acknowledged by anyone outside their own families, and perhaps the rare politician who thinks currying favor with that group might prove advantageous. We’re speaking of teachers – those special people who have devoted their lives to the future of our most precious resource: our children.

Even as late as the 1990s, teaching was viewed as a noble profession, and that’s as it should be. Few jobs are as important.

But paradoxically, the amount of money teachers bring home on their paychecks, compared to their responsibilities and the degree of higher education required, is among the lowest of any profession.

Teachers used to enjoy a good measure of job security, but that’s no longer the case. Many districts have been forced to lay off teachers in the wake of state budget cuts. And some of Oklahoma’s best and brightest in the education field have been heading for greener pastures – or at least higher salaries – in neighboring states.

After yesterday, we’re thinking some public school teachers – and university professors, too – should consider jumping ship and going to work for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, whose 268 lucky employees just scored a 5 percent pay hike.

Regent John Massey said the “cost-of-living adjustments” were funded through “internal cost efficiencies,” and pointed out the last “compensation adjustment” for the staff occurred in the 2009 budget. No doubt other state employees who have gone longer would like the same consideration.

Amanda Paliotta, vice chancellor of finance, defended the action by saying the agency has trouble keeping employees. But now that word has leaked out about the raises, there may be a line of qualified applicants around the building.

We’re not saying the regents’ staff doesn’t deserve pay increases; far from it. But other state employees – including educators themselves – have been bypassed over the years, and this doesn’t seem fair.

This seemingly lopsided way of doing business can be largely blamed on the fact that higher education institutions don’t necessarily fall under the same policy umbrella as other state employees.

The regents’ employees aren’t covered by the study ordered by Gov. Mary Fallin to compare private and public sector salaries in other states to those in Oklahoma. Fallin is holding off on raises for other state workers until that study is complete.

When will that happen? We don’t know. All we know for sure is that a statewide pay hike for employees hasn’t occurred since 2006, though some targeted raises have been awarded. Many of these likely occurred for top-tiered administrators, if circumstances hold true to form in this state.

Whatever the case, we hope the best of the best in the state’s employee pool will soon be rewarded for their diligence. Even the most avid anti-government individual has to acknowledge that these people, too, are part of our economic system – and if they don’t have money to spend, the rest of us suffer.

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  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014


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