Oklahoma Teachers to Walkout on Monday
After the legislature failed to approve needed raises, teachers statewide plan to walkout on April 2
Following the recent teachers strike in West Virginia, educators in other states have begun discussing the possibility of taking a job action to get better wages. UCOMM recently reported about strike talk in Kentucky and Oklahoma. Now teachers in Oklahoma are ready to pull the trigger and have announced a walkout on Monday.
Teachers in the state are some of the lowest paid in the country, ranking 49th with the average teacher making $42,000 a year. Only Mississippi and South Dakota rank behind them. Additionally, schools are underfunded and falling apart with the spending per student decreasing over the last few years. Many educators work second jobs just to make ends meet.
Teachers in Oklahoma are calling on the legislature to pass $10,000 pay raises for teachers over the next three years and $5,000 raises for full-time support staff like secretaries, custodians and bus drivers. These raises would bring Oklahoma teachers wages in line with those in surrounding states. They are also asking for education spending levels to be increased to bring the per-pupil spending back up to the old levels. The Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) promised that if their demands were not met they would walkout on April 2.
In an effort to stop a walkout, the legislature passed a $6,100 pay raise on Wednesday. The bill, which is described as the largest pay increase in state history is expected to be signed by Governor Mary Fallin.
While the OEA described the passage of the bill as a “truly historic moment” they said that the bill remains incomplete. On Facebook, Oklahoma teachers voiced their displeasure with the deal. In a poll that was open to just Oklahoma teachers, nearly 80% said that the bill did not go far enough and that they will still be walking out on Monday.
"This package doesn't overcome shortfall caused by four-day weeks, overcrowded classrooms that deprive kids of the one-on-one attention they need. It's not enough," Alicia Priest, OEA President said. "We must continue to push for more annual funding for our schools to reduce class size and restore more of the 28% of funds they cut from education over the last decade."
Unless a deal can be worked out teachers will be walking out on Monday and heading to Oklahoma City to voice their displeasure with the progress the legislature has made. Below we have included a video from VICE about the walkout.
"It is humbling whenever there are students who can graduate here and start working at a convenience store for more money than I make as a teacher."
This is why Oklahoma teachers are walking out of their classrooms April 2. pic.twitter.com/jFEPqaoWN7
— VICE News (@vicenews) March 28, 2018