Governor Signs Teacher Pay Raise Bill, Some Educators Are Still Walking Out

When confronted by Principal Matt Wright, she broke down, admitted what she had done and sobbed 'No, no, I'm not going to lose my husband'. Now, teachers in Arizona thronged their GOP-run Capitol this week, demanding a 20 percent teacher pay hike. "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".

Less than 24 hours after the Oklahoma Senate passed a revenue bill, the House has voted to repeal a tax that was expected to generate almost $50 million.

Oklahoma politicians are so scared of the upcoming teacher strike that they just passed legislation to fund a partial raise through taxes. West Virginia teachers forced lawmakers to give them 5% raises. Charitable contributions and medical expenses are not capped.

Some hard-liner educators believe the Legislature's average permanent $6,100 teacher pay increase - the first in more than a decade - is too little and comes too late.

The package increases the gross production tax charged to oil and gas drillers to 5 percent on all wells. Rural hospitals and nursing homes are closing, prison populations are at crisis levels, and state Highway Patrol officers got mileage limits previous year because the state couldn't afford the gas bill.

"Together we're stronger" was the battle cry taken up by Oklahoma teachers as they prepared to follow through with their plans for a teacher walkout on Monday.

"After ten long years in a lot of these conservative states, the chicken is finally coming home to roost", said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the 3-million member union with which the Oklahoma Education Association is affiliated.

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"Without a teacher pay raise, an already devastating situation will only worsen, with children being the ultimate victims", Priest said.

Many Oklahoma teachers on Facebook have called for keeping schools shut down until all their demands are met. Teachers are preparing for a statewide strike by over 40,000 educators on Monday, April 2.

The praise is humbling for the teacher who considers herself to be a mother-like figure for many of her students. "We have to have 31, 32, 33 kids in a class because we can't hire as many teachers as we need".

State Sen. John Kavanagh, the Appropriations Committee chairman, told KNXV that tax increases to pay for K-12 education are off the table, as voters have opposed the idea in the past.

The historic and successful strike in West Virginia has inspired a burgeoning uprising among austerity-weary teachers around the country.

The state ranked 49th in average teacher salary in 2016 at $45,276, notes the NEA.

A new advocacy group, which opposes tax increases - Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite!, which is championed by former U.S. Sen. Timmons says, "Big purses, handbags, backpacks, things like that; if you don't have to bring them, please don't bring them".

  • Carlos Nash