Fallin releases statement about teacher walkout

Glen Norman
April 3, 2018

During the past three years, I have called for an increase in teacher salaries.

Alisa Lobaugh, a school counselor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, strikes with other Oklahoma teachers at the Oklahoma state capitol in Oklahoma City on Monday, April 2, 2018.

"They gave us the guts to stand up for ourselves", she said.

"This will allow our district to provide much-needed services to our students and our community", Floyd wrote, "while continuing to let our voices be heard in Oklahoma City through a daily delegation of more than 50 EPS team members". Teachers in Kentucky protested Monday as well, opposing changes to their pension system. Teachers in the state are not eligible for Social Security benefits.

"Forty-nine members of the Kentucky House and 22 members of the Kentucky Senate voted not to keep kicking the pension problem down the road", Bevin tweeted.

Oklahoma City Public Schools will be closed to students on Tuesday so teachers can participate in Day 2 of the walkout and rally, officials announced Monday.

The additional education spending would be paid for by a 6 percent sales tax on a host of services that had previously been tax-free. Salaries for teachers in West Virginia ranked 48th in the nation when they chose to strike, according to the National Education Association, the country's largest teacher's union.

Oklahoma legislators last week approved, and Governor Mary Fallin signed into law, the state's first major tax hike in a quarter century - a $450 million revenue package meant to help fund teacher raises and avert a strike. Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, signed the package into law.

Craig McVay, superintendent of El Reno Public Schools, said he left it up to teachers to decide whether they want to walk out. "We've got to save SEEK (state funding based on the number of students in school) and preschool and the family resource centers", said Merry Berry, who teaches at Carter City Elementary and is president of the Carter County Education Association.

Capitol Hill High School teachers Paige and Shaun Steele were among hundreds who gathered at Northeast Academy before marching to the statehouse to protest education funding. I was very proud to join with leaders of both parties to sign the largest teacher pay increase in Oklahoma's history.

"Their success has shown us that collective activity can work", Kentucky teacher Corey Sayre said of the West Virginia walkout.

Teachers in Arizona have also threatened to strike over their salaries, local media reported. "It really is a wildfire".

Oklahoma ranks near the bottom among states in average pay for its teachers.

"We're going to say that our legislature started the process and they have a moral obligation to invest in our children and our children's future", Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association teachers union, told the AP.

Despite having less money in the budget, the Oklahoma State Department of Education says that student enrollment continues to rise. But he said the movement would be influential regardless of whether it shuts down schools. Many school districts have moved to four-day school weeks because they can not afford to keep the lights on for five days. "If I were a legislator right now, I'd be honestly sweating bullets".

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