While public school teachers are still fighting for a livable wage, educators in Tahlequah just got a huge pay bump.
45 certified teachers are employed by the Cherokee Nation.
They teach at Sequoyah High School and the Cherokee Immersion School.
On Monday, a proposal from the chief was passed by the tribal council giving teachers a $5,000 raise.
Larry Shade and Laurin Keen are teachers at Sequoyah High School and Cherokee Immersion School.
“Just seeing the nation do this for the teachers here at Sequoyah and at Immersion… It’s a tremendous feeling,” said Shade.
“It felt good to be appreciated. I know that the climate in education in the state is pretty poor right now, so it was nice to have that appreciation and that gesture and hopeful that the state follows and that my colleagues that are in public schools get the same,” said Keen.
That kind of money goes a long way for these educators that have seen other educators leave Oklahoma for higher paying jobs.
“Hopefully that will encourage—this will set a precedence for the state and give us something to look at. I know when that was enacted upon last night at the council and they passed it that just set the market value to the teachers in this area,” said Shade.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said even though teachers within the tribe make more than public school teachers, its teachers weren’t getting paid enough compared to the support staff in tribal government.
“We hope this is one more instance we can pave the way, lead the way so the state can find a way,” said Baker. “The check is in the mail.”
The Cherokee Nation said teachers will be getting another $5,000 pay increase when their contract begins again this summer.