|For Immediate Release
Contact: Molly Woon
press [at] dpo [dot] org
Knute Buehler wants to cut teacher compensation — even though Oregon teachers are already underpaid
PORTLAND — Oregon teachers make 22 percent less than they would in the private sector, according to a new report released this week — and yet the Republican candidate for governor, Knute Buehler, wants to cut teacher compensation.
Buehler is so out of touch with Oregon schools, he actually thinks our teachers are over-compensated and voted against efforts to reduce class sizes.
At a time when teachers across the country are standing up for better pay and benefits, Buehler is suggesting that school districts cap the salary amounts used to calculate benefits. As a legislator, Buehler also voted against efforts to reduce class sizes. Buehler twice voted against increasing K-12 funding.
The report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy found that even after factoring in the cost to a school district of Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) benefits, health insurance, and other costs, teachers in Oregon still earn 9 percent less in weekly compensation than comparable private-sector workers.
In a committee meeting in 2017, Buehler argued that Oregon teachers are “sopping up dollars” that should be directed elsewhere. He said:
“What assurance do we have that these dollars will actually get into the classrooms and we won’t see the continuing sopping up of these dollars into K-12 education through step salary increases and very generous health benefits and taking care of our underfunded pension system?”
KATU News found that Oregon teachers are even moving out of state to find higher-paying teaching jobs. Their report compared teacher salaries at Portland Public Schools, Oregon’s largest district, and Evergreen Public Schools, Clark County Washington’s largest district, and found that “Evergreen teachers with similar experience levels make between $9,501 and $12,633 more per year.”
This comparison makes it crystal clear that Buehler’s teacher compensation cuts would be devastating for Oregon’s efforts to recruit and retain high-quality teachers.
Meanwhile, Governor Kate Brown’s plan for education is focused on expanding preschool and career and technical education, lengthening the school year, reducing K-3 class sizes, and breaking down barriers for the students facing the biggest obstacles in their path toward graduation.
“Oregon teachers deserve a raise, and yet Knute Buehler wants to cut teacher pay and benefits. He couldn’t be more out of touch with Oregon parents and students,” said Jeanne Atkins, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon. “Governor Kate Brown has a plan that will strengthen our schools — and teachers, parents, and students can trust her to deliver on it.”