teachers

Hazel O'Neil

Andrea Brawdy, a special education teacher at James Griffith Intermediate School in Choctaw, Oklahoma, just received the first pay raise of her 12-year teaching career: $414 more per month.

Getting this raise was no small feat. Even after teachers around the state demanded a substantial pay increase, they still left their classrooms to take part in a two-week long teacher walkout at the Capitol building this April. They wanted to bring attention to their demands: better pay, better benefits, and better treatment of teachers.

This question came up again and again Tuesday during an at-times heated hearing of the Senate's education committee: Does the law allow schools to use federal money to arm teachers?

The federal money in question comes from Title IV of the big, k-12 federal education law known as The Every Student Succeeds Act. It's a billion-dollar pot intended for what the law calls "student support and academic enrichment."

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma education leaders say a state question designed to give districts more spending flexibility will do little to improve public schools’ financial difficulties.

State Question 801 would allow school leaders to spend money in their building fund — currently restricted for things like construction projects, maintenance and repairs, utilities, and custodians’ salaries — in new ways.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Every one of the six Republican incumbents who lost their primary runoff election Tuesday voted against a $450 million tax package to fund teacher pay raises earlier this year, a strong signal that education issues are a priority for voters — and a political movement emboldened by the 2018 teacher walkout could continue to be an influential force in the November election.

In House District 20 near Pauls Valley, voters ousted long-time incumbent Bobby Cleveland in favor of Sherrie Conley, an Oklahoma City Public School administrator, who won by just 66 votes.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma’s State Board of Education is set to approve a record-breaking number of emergency teaching certifications at its meeting Thursday, a strong indication a statewide teacher shortage is still growing.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, it is back to school season. Millions of teachers across this country are getting their lesson plans together. They're decorating their bulletin boards. Others, though, are busy elsewhere, like on the campaign trail.

Oklahoma State School Board Association

Results from a new survey show the recent teacher pay raise has had little immediate effect on the state’s teacher shortage, and that schools will still start the year with nearly 500 unfilled positions.

276 superintendents responded to the Oklahoma State School Board Association’s survey on the teacher shortage.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

About 100 teachers and school administrators filed for political office in the 2018 election. Most are not shy about supporting the first tax increase in nearly three decades, even though it’s a progressive political message in a deeply conservative state.

Pro-tax campaigns from educators seem to be resonating with voters in many parts of Oklahoma — but not everywhere.

Polarizing tax package

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

On the night of the primary elections, Ainsley Hoover was at a small watch party at the Chili’s restaurant in Enid. She had helped her friend, a fellow teacher, campaign for House District 41,  and they were anxiously awaiting the results.

Hoover, who was also tracking the vote totals for House District 40 with hopes the incumbent in that seat would lose, says she didn’t use to be political. When Hoover did vote, it was usually in the presidential election.

With school out, a lot of teachers are thinking about a wave of protests that had them walking off the job, demanding things like better pay and benefits and more funding for public education.

Some of those educators are now running for public office and are on the ballot in North Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and in West Virginia where those strikes began. Still, others wonder if what has been seen as a movement created by public school teachers can translate to wins for seats in statehouses across the country.

Pages