teachers

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling Wednesday that will reverberate through America's schools for years.

In Janus v. AFSCME, a 5-4 court majority overturned precedent, saying that public sector unions, like those that represent law enforcement, state employees, and, of course, teachers, can no longer collect what are known as agency fees from nonmembers.

On Tuesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos fielded questions about school safety, civil rights and for-profit colleges during a congressional hearing about her department's priorities.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Deborah Gist cried as she stepped across the small stage in front the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools and a group of educators had just finished a 110-mile walk from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to highlight their fight for more school funding.

It was the seventh day of Oklahoma’s teacher walkout, and thousands of supporters rallied to greet the group as it finished the final mile.

“This is not a rally,” Gist yelled to the crowd. “This is not a protest. This is a movement!”

Teachers in Kentucky flexed their newfound political clout in primary elections Tuesday after a series of massive protests at the state Capitol earlier this year.

High school math teacher Travis Brenda ousted one of the Kentucky legislature's top Republican leaders in a primary election. Brenda ran a campaign attacking state Rep. Jonathan Shell for his role in writing bills that weakened retirement benefits for state workers and overhauled Kentucky's tax code.

The months-long wave of teacher protests, which has rolled through roughly half a dozen states already, swelled and crashed on the front stoop of North Carolina's Capitol building Wednesday. Demonstrators donned red and gathered in the capital, Raleigh, to demand better pay and better school funding.

Teachers across the country are pushing for better pay and increased school funding. They consistently make less than other college graduates with comparable experience — even though, for many teachers, working with students is more than a full-time job.

There are long days in the classroom, clubs and activities, planning and grading, and the many after-school hours spent with students.

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