State Using Lottery Funds To Pay Teachers

A new law will allocate Oklahoma lottery funds to public schools to increase teacher pay and attract more educators.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

Oklahoma lottery

The Oklahoma Lottery Commission is supporting a measure that will increase teacher salaries using state lottery funds. Governor Kevin Stitt, signed Oklahoma House Bill 4388 into law Thursday, and the measure is expected to help combat the teacher shortage. Schools across the nation are working to draw interest in vacant positions. From sign-on bonuses to reduced school weeks, districts are trying everything they can to bring teachers back to the classroom. 

The Oklahoma lottery has already contributed over a billion dollars in education funds. Being that many state lotteries help support the public education system, this move is proving to be widely accepted. Teacher pay has been a serious topic of conversation for years, but after receiving billions of dollars in COVID relief funds, and many state efforts advancing large public education budgets, some are wondering if more pay will truly resolve the situation. 

For years, state lottery programs have funded many school programs, yet districts continue to report losses and a need for more. Even as far back as ten years ago, funding issues were being questioned as lawmakers used policies like the new Oklahoma lottery funding as an excuse to focus budget money elsewhere. Instead of allowing the funds to be combined in addition to what was already given, they were used as a replacement, and funding issues were not solved due to mismanagement. These mismanagement inconsistencies are exactly what some have questioned as schools received record funding to combat the pandemic, even though during lockdowns facilities didn’t need to run utilities, have janitorial services, or repairs due to typical wear and tear. While various states claim they need more money for schools, they also utilized these emergency funds to insert Critical Race Theory into classrooms and neglected faulty HVAC units and other serious issues. 

How politicians and districts distribute funds is at their discretion, but the fact of the matter is that higher taxes, lottery money, and federal education money have all been increasingly given to public schools yet they are experiencing less support than ever. More teachers are retiring and fewer young adults are entering the field. Pay increases won’t be able to change that anytime soon. It may offer college students an incentive to earn a teaching degree but with public school and college enrollment decreasing, Oklahoma lottery funds will only reward those who are currently seeking employment in education. If specific areas are experiencing a loss of teachers at a higher rate than others, these funds may be better served in the form of relocation fees, but whether or not districts are considering that option is unknown. 

Oklahoma lottery

What we do know is that teachers are overworked. Many have been asked to take on extra duties during the teacher shortage. If enrollment continues to drop the need for teachers may begin to as well, but for now, Oklahoma schools receiving lottery money will offer higher pay in the hopes that they can fill in the gaps. This is definitely considered a win for educators seeking employment.