Oklahoma teacher walkout: Will my school be closed?

Oklahoma teacher walkout: Will my school be closed?

Kerry Wise
March 31, 2018

The tax package will increase the tax on oil and gas production, cigarettes, hotel and motels, and fuel, something truck driver Doug McKouen said he's a little anxious about.

The OEA is still calling for a statewide walkout on Monday, arguing that lawmakers already are working to repeal the lodging tax, which generates almost $50 million for funding.

OEA President Alicia Priest said in a statement Wednesday evening that the bill's passage was "a truly historic moment" and "will benefit a generation of Oklahoma students and will be felt in every community across this state". It increases the state's gasoline tax by 3 cents and the diesel tax by 6 cents. Amid a furious, last-minute lobbying effort by the hospitality industry, House and Senate leaders agreed to pass a separate measure to repeal the $5-per-night hotel and motel tax that was projected to raise about $45 million.

But while this may have been a victory, as the law will offer an average of $6,000 pay increase for all teachers, many educators are still planning on going on a strike.

Despite calls from the governor, state superintendent, some statewide education associations, local superintendents and civic leaders to accept the pay raises as a "historic" victory, a significant number of Oklahoma teachers are vowing to fight on for restoring state aid to lower class sizes, pay for classroom materials and restore foreign language, music, art and Advanced Placement course offerings.

According to the National Education Association, the average salary of a teacher in Oklahoma ranks 49th among the USA states and District of Columbia with South Dakota and MS the only states reporting lower.

Still have questions about what the teacher pay raise is, who it impacts and how it's being paid for can be confusing, just as tracking what happens at the state capitol on a day-to-day basis. "I think everybody wanted teachers to have a pay raise, but now they're saying, 'Why are they walking out now?' If you walk now, it could present a very different image". On Thursday, Gov. Mary Fallin rushed to sign the bill into law.

In Kentucky, teachers are also striking in order to fight changes to their pensions plans.

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More experienced classroom teachers would receive an even larger raise based on years of service and certification.

Acevedo said 65 Guymon teachers have committed to demonstrating at the capitol on Monday, while some will stand in solidarity at Guymon public schools.

-A teacher rebellion that started in the hills of West Virginia spread like a prairie fire to Oklahoma this week and now threatens to reach the desert in Arizona.

Steven Rhoden, a paraprofessional in special education at an elementary school in Tulsa, told the World Socialist Web Site that teachers are not happy with the deal, and paraprofessionals and support staff would get little if anything. "Lawmakers have left funding on the table that could be used immediately to help Oklahoma students".

Dr. Jennifer Dennis, the Chair of Education Department, said they require 13 weeks in the classroom while the Office of Educational Quality Accountability only requires 12 weeks.

Cobb reported Friday that 93 percent of about 1,000 teachers and other workers he polled said they wanted to walk out on Monday and 83 percent "thought we should stay out of school beyond Monday".

"If I'm the only one here, then I will go to my Representative and Senator and say, 'look, we haven't fixed the problem".

$5 hotel/motel tax on any room booked in Oklahoma.