Oklahoma Teacher Pay

Tulsa: Gist Raises Salaries for Administrators, Not for Teachers

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You may remember Deborah Gist, who was previously Superintendent of Schools in Rhode Island, where she approved the mass firing of all the staff at Central Falls High School and became a hero of the corporate reform movement. TIME magazine named her one of the most important people of 2010 for her “courage” in firing so many educators at once.

Gist is now superintendent of schools in Tulsa and a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change. She recently announced a massive reorganization that involved firings, pay raises, pay cuts, but no pay raises for teachers.

Needless to say, teachers were not happy.

[Gist] said the district eliminated 175 jobs and created 73 new ones – some at higher, some at lower salaries – but, overall, the change, she said, will shift almost $4 million back into schools.

But the head of the teachers union, Patti Ferguson Palmer, complains about the priorities of the spending.

“The teachers are going to have extra students in their classrooms. We, of all people, get that people deserve more money when they take on more responsibility…When so many of these people were already making six figures, and they’re getting a raise…to someone making $32,000, $33,000, and their kids are on food stamps, it makes it look like they’re not appreciated,” she said.

The swing in salaries was, in some cases, more than $20,000 up and down.

Gist said no amount of saving on the administrative side would significantly change teachers’ salaries, but the changes made so far would make a dent in savings.

“In all these cases, it’s resulting many millions of dollars in savings for Tulsa Public Schools,” she said.

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