Education

Kateleigh Mills / KOSU

As the teacher walkout stretches into a second week and many schools remain closed, some teachers and coaches are trying to keep student extracurricular activities going.

Athletes from around the state gathered at the Carl Albert Invitational in Midwest City last week. Jeremiah Smith, a physical science teacher and track coach at Midwest City High School, says it might have put more pressure on lawmakers if they had canceled the meet, but that wouldn't benefit the students.

Oklahoma Strike To Continue Into Monday

Apr 8, 2018

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All this week schools across Oklahoma were closed as public school teachers rallied at the state Capitol for better pay and more money for the classroom.

After 10 years of budget cuts and some of the lowest teacher wages in the nation, teachers say they've had enough.

Pay in Oklahoma has been so low, in fact, that districts often suffer from severe teacher shortages — many talented educators have left Oklahoma for better pay elsewhere. Some estimates put the number of teachers who have left near 2,000.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

Many schools in Oklahoma were closed all week while their teachers rallied at the state capitol for more funding. Yesterday, the state Senate passed two measures that would increase money for schools by about $40 million. But the union leading the walkout said it's not enough, and they'll be back at the Capitol protesting on Monday. Emily Wendler in Oklahoma City has more.

EMILY WENDLER, BYLINE: Teachers in Oklahoma got a pay raise last week, but now they want more money for the classroom. And they've been rallying hard for that money all week.

( Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo )

This week, striking teachers across Oklahoma have been following in the footsteps of their counterparts in West Virginia. Their grievances, like those of so many teachers across the country, focus not only on low wages but the general lack of funding from the statehouse for basic operational costs.

Public schools are dealing with a shortage of supplies, outdated textbooks, poorly maintained buildings, and in some cases, a four-day school week.

Ryan LaCroix / KOSU

Update 4:22 p.m.

The state’s largest teachers union says the teacher walkout will continue next week despite the Senate passing two revenue-raising measures today. The Oklahoma Education Association also laid out new demands it says lawmakers must meet for teachers to return to the classroom.

Oklahoma lawmakers made plans to vote Friday on bills that could earmark more money for education. But it's not clear if the measures will satisfy complaints by the state's teachers, which have led to walkouts and widespread protests this week.

Several of Oklahoma's largest school districts plan to remain closed Friday, as they have been all week.

The state Senate says it will vote on a handful of bills tomorrow, Oklahoma Watch reported.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too?

Oklahoma’s state Capitol has been a madhouse all week. Teachers pack the rotunda early, and by 9 a.m. the chants are loud enough to echo through the tunnels underneath the building.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma teachers continued to rally Wednesday at the state capitol, the third day of a planned teacher walkout. Educators filled the capitol to capacity, urging lawmakers to hear their demands for more education funding.

The Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, wants more money for the classroom and it identified legislation they think would achieve that. One is a bill allowing ball and dice games in casinos, another would repeal some capital gains exemptions.

After passing teacher pay raises and providing revenue to fund them, some lawmakers thought the teacher walkout would be short lived. However, as the walkout closes in on its fourth day, some are wondering what the options are to provide more revenue to fund education and other core state services.

Following are some of the options lawmakers have talked about in the past that could still be on the table. They have varying levels of support, which is tricky when considering the super majority new revenue measures require. 

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