The Oklahoma State Department of Education announced a new initiative to pay Oklahoma college students who become student teachers.
Over the next three school years, the initiative will provide up to $3,250 payments to an estimated 1,300 qualified student teachers each year. Student teachers will get a $1,625 payment at the beginning of their student teaching and the other half will be paid by the Oklahoma public school district hiring candidate.
Madison Deeds, a senior agricultural education major, said before this decision, she was struggling to figure out how she was going to keep paying her bills and working without a salary.
“I worked extra this summer and saved up money to be able to survive this five month stretch, and learning the news about this decision has removed a lot of stress,” Deeds said.
The stipend is a set amount and Deeds said every student teacher’s living situation is different. For instance, Deeds said some student teachers must pay rent somewhere while others get to live for free.
Makyla Charles, a first-generation student majoring in biology and secondary science education, said the money will not cover all expenses.
“I agree that every student’s situation is different but If you have bills to pay, there’s no way this money alone will be enough,” Charles said.
The Oklahoma Department of Education will use over $12 million dollars of its federal COVID-19 relief funding to pay student teachers through the 2023-2024 school year.
Although this money comes from COVID-19 relief funds, Charles said this action is overdue.
“It shouldn’t have, teachers in Oklahoma deserve the recognition and deserve to be paid well no matter the circumstances,” Charles said. “They are the ones who keep the schools going.”
Although Charles and Deed said this money is an encouragement to students who want to be student teachers. However, students will need to work to pay for school and their daily needs.