Education Funding

Oklahoma Strike To Continue Into Monday

Apr 8, 2018

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All this week schools across Oklahoma were closed as public school teachers rallied at the state Capitol for better pay and more money for the classroom.

After 10 years of budget cuts and some of the lowest teacher wages in the nation, teachers say they've had enough.

Pay in Oklahoma has been so low, in fact, that districts often suffer from severe teacher shortages — many talented educators have left Oklahoma for better pay elsewhere. Some estimates put the number of teachers who have left near 2,000.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

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Many schools in Oklahoma were closed all week while their teachers rallied at the state capitol for more funding. Yesterday, the state Senate passed two measures that would increase money for schools by about $40 million. But the union leading the walkout said it's not enough, and they'll be back at the Capitol protesting on Monday. Emily Wendler in Oklahoma City has more.

EMILY WENDLER, BYLINE: Teachers in Oklahoma got a pay raise last week, but now they want more money for the classroom. And they've been rallying hard for that money all week.

( Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo )

This week, striking teachers across Oklahoma have been following in the footsteps of their counterparts in West Virginia. Their grievances, like those of so many teachers across the country, focus not only on low wages but the general lack of funding from the statehouse for basic operational costs.

Public schools are dealing with a shortage of supplies, outdated textbooks, poorly maintained buildings, and in some cases, a four-day school week.

Ryan LaCroix / KOSU

Update 4:22 p.m.

The state’s largest teachers union says the teacher walkout will continue next week despite the Senate passing two revenue-raising measures today. The Oklahoma Education Association also laid out new demands it says lawmakers must meet for teachers to return to the classroom.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the historic teacher walkout which has brought thousands of educators and supporters to call for more school funding and Tulsa oilman George Kaiser says more tax hikes are needed after pay raises for education and state workers last week.

Oklahoma lawmakers made plans to vote Friday on bills that could earmark more money for education. But it's not clear if the measures will satisfy complaints by the state's teachers, which have led to walkouts and widespread protests this week.

Several of Oklahoma's largest school districts plan to remain closed Friday, as they have been all week.

The state Senate says it will vote on a handful of bills tomorrow, Oklahoma Watch reported.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma teachers continued to rally Wednesday at the state capitol, the third day of a planned teacher walkout. Educators filled the capitol to capacity, urging lawmakers to hear their demands for more education funding.

The Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, wants more money for the classroom and it identified legislation they think would achieve that. One is a bill allowing ball and dice games in casinos, another would repeal some capital gains exemptions.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated 10:32 p.m.

Schools across Oklahoma closed for a second day, as teachers continue to rally for more education funding.

Packed the inside the Capitol building – thousands of people chanted “What do we want? Funding! When do we want it? Now.”

State lawmakers approved a teacher pay raise last week, but educators say this rally is about getting more money for the classroom.

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

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