Education Funding

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated 5:25 p.m.

Public schools from every corner of the state closed their doors today as teachers walked out of the classroom and marched at the Oklahoma capitol to protest years of cuts to education funding.

Last week, Governor Mary Fallin signed the first statewide tax increase in nearly 30 years to give teachers a roughly $6,100 raise. The nearly $450 million deal increased taxes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production in hopes of heading off the teacher walkout.

Thousands of public school teachers across Oklahoma will stay out of the classroom – and many will take to the streets — starting today, after they rejected a pay raise they said fails to compensate for some of the lowest educators' salaries in the country.

Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed raises of around $6,100 – about 15 to 18 percent per teacher, as well as $33 million for textbooks and $18 million in additional school funding, to be paid for with a tax increase on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production.

Oklahoma Teachers To Strike This Week

Apr 1, 2018

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Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After months of gridlock and failed deal-making, the Oklahoma House and Senate have passed a nearly $450 million tax package designed to fund raises for teachers and avoid statewide school closures.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she’ll sign the tax package, which fell short of teachers’ demands. Educators still plan to march at the Capitol April 2 to pressure lawmakers to spend more on schools and public employees and continue a debate that has highlighted growing gaps and frustrations over taxes and government.

Kelly Burley / KOSU

On Wednesday afternoon, teachers in Stillwater got an after-school jump on a planned statewide walkout next week.

At one of the city’s busiest intersections, 6th and Western, roughly 40 Stillwater public schools teachers and students waved signs as passing motorists tapped their car and truck horns in seeming approval.

Celeste Fox, a 26-year educator who teaches second grade at nearby Westwood Elementary School, says it’s time to stem the long-rolling tide of education budget cuts in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday ruled a proposed state question that would ask voters to approve tax hikes on oil and gas production to help fund education can move forward.

The proposed State Question 795 was written by a group called Restore Oklahoma Now, which is led by a former president of the OIPA. It would ask voters to end discounts on many wells and impose an across-the-board 7 percent tax on oil and gas production to fund teacher raises and early childhood education.

Oklahoma Teacher Walk Out Looms

Mar 12, 2018
Dick Thomas Johnson / Flickr

Educators across the state of Oklahoma are threatening to walk out after a decade without a raise. 

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and sitting in for Neva Hill is former House Speaker Kris Steele. The three discuss the teacher walkout announced for April 2nd, calling on lawmakers to follow through with the 2003 law requiring education budgets to be completed by April 1st and House Republicans reelect Atoka Representative Charles McCall to be Speaker in the next legislative session.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

In the first public press conference since talk of a statewide teacher walkout began, the largest Oklahoma teachers union laid out their demands for the state legislature.

The demands include:

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Many Oklahoma educators are fed up with state lawmakers who have promised teacher pay raises for years but have failed to actually deliver. At their wits end, these teachers are now planning to walk out of their classrooms to push legislators to act.

The Superintendent of Bartlesville Public Schools, Chuck McCauley, says the idea for the walkout started in his district in September. Staff that participated in the last Oklahoma teacher strike in 1990 proposed revisiting the tactic at a school board meeting.

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