Fed up with school spending cuts, Oklahoma teachers prepare to walk out

Fed up with school spending cuts, Oklahoma teachers prepare to walk out

Thousands of teachers and public workers from across Kentucky flocked to the state Capitol on Monday morning to protest potential budget cuts to public education and the passage, last week, of a controversial package of changes to the state's public pension system that teachers had opposed.

Organizers planned to speak with state lawmakers about how decades of funding cuts have affected their schools-and why a bill passed in the legislature last week that would raise taxes on oil and gas production to give teachers a $6,100 raise and allot $50 million for school funding was not enough to stop the protest.

The increase fell short of the demand from the largest teachers' union in the state, the Oklahoma Education Association, for a $10,000 pay increase over three years for teachers and a $5,000 raise for support personnel.

Teacher union officials in Oklahoma say many educators have left their schools for higher pay in neighboring states.

Teachers picket around the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on Monday to protest education funding and salaries.

A Facebook page that is involved in planning walkouts, Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time Is Now!, has a list of schools that supported school closures for a walkout before the bill on salaries passed and after the bill passed. They held signs asking for help and more funding.

James Deming made a video comparing the problem to one he hopes more people can relate to, using the example of a firefighter instead of a teacher.

But even though she stood to benefit from the pay raise, Woodward teacher Amy Whitewater felt sick to her stomach.

When I first spoke with Cagle after arriving in Oklahoma, he was driving back from a meeting with teachers in a remote area of the Oklahoma panhandle. "Public education in Kentucky is right now in limbo".

Fed up with school spending cuts, Oklahoma teachers prepare to walk out
Fed up with school spending cuts, Oklahoma teachers prepare to walk out

We were among those who had wondered if such a compromise package would ever be possible and had been openly dismissive of the Legislature's ability to govern.

State funding for Oklahoma's public schools has decreased by about 9 percent since 2008, The Oklahoman reported. "Therefore, Edmond Schools will be closed Monday and possibly beyond", a note from Towne to parents read. Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler told Courier-Journal last week that teachers were watching lawmakers to see if their budget will be "in the best interest" of students.Teachers also want more education funding for textbooks, school programs, and technology, according to WLWT. Teachers in Arizona are now considering a strike over their demands for a 20% salary increase. They say it's all for their students.

Thousands of Arizona teachers also rallied in front of the state Capitol in Phoenix in March. Protesters carried signs reading: "How can you put students first if you put teachers last?" ahead of a rally expected to draw thousands. "They're here for resources, here for desks ... we haven't had an operational increase since I've been doing this, and I've been doing this 27, 28 years".

"The raise provided to teachers is the largest raise in the history of Oklahoma".

"There is a disturbing common message: more and more people. are saying, 'I don't know if I can AFFORD to do the world's most important work", Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, said in a statement. In Kentucky, educators are fighting legislation that they say would disrupt their pension plans.

The communities were the flagship of a National Government initiative, "Investing for Educational Success", which was originally budgeted at $359m over four years - although the budget was underspent because the communities were slow to form.

Taylor from Guthrie writes, "We want education funding restored".

"We're madder than hornets, and the hornets are swarming today", said Claudette Green, a retired teacher and principal.

Most Republicans argued the bill will make Kentucky's tax code competitive with other states.

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