30 March, 2018
In the deep red state of Oklahoma, the Republican-led Legislature approved money for teacher raises and more school funding, even hiking taxes on the vaunted oil and gas industry to do it.
The mobilization by teachers in Oklahoma follows a multi-day strike in West Virginia earlier this month during which educators and school employees also occupied the state capitol to demand raises and a permanent funding solution for their health insurance program.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere. The measure has been described as "the largest teacher pay raise in the history of the state", according to CNN.
The clock is ticking for Oklahoma lawmakers to approve a new education budget, which meets the demands of dissatisfied teachers.
Districts including Tulsa and Oklahoma Public Schools announced Thursday they will be closed for the statewide teacher walkout.
The state government has cut education spending by 28.2 percent since the financial crash of 2008-the biggest funding cuts in the country.
The day after the Oklahoma Legislature finalized a revenue deal for teacher raises, plans for a widespread teacher walkout are persisting even as elected officials and civic leaders try to quell the movement.
Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest accused both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature of taking actions Thursday to "derail almost $75 million in revenue necessary to fund House Bill 1010xx".
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Oklahoma teachers have confirmed they are still due to walk out of the classroom next Monday despite the state Senate voting last night on an emergency package to give them a pay raise.
Bill Guy, organizing and communications specialist with the OEA, said that the package of bills passed was "a first step toward funding our goals, but they don't go far enough".
When adjusted for inflation, the center's report shows a almost 28 percent reduction over the past 10 years. Certainly the teachers had reached the end of their patience, and I can understand and sympathize with that.
The teachers are fighting not just for their own salaries, but for boosts to the whole public education system.
"I think students play a major part in this because we are affected, too", said Christian Coleman, a senior at Millwood High School.
State Sen. John Kavanagh, the Appropriations Committee chairman, told KNXV that tax increases to pay for K-12 education are off the table, as voters have opposed the idea in the past.