Education

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Public schools are dealing with a shortage of supplies, outdated textbooks, poorly maintained buildings, and in some cases, a four-day school week.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

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Updated 7:11 p.m.

As House members were preparing to adjourn, Republican Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols announced that he had just been notified by the state Senate that they would hear House Bill 1013XX on Thursday. 

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Police Sgt. Jeff Crawford is breaking his routine. He’s leaving the office and climbing into his squad car because Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers and supporters are rallying at the state Capitol to demand more school funding.

Crawford is a school resource officer who normally works out of Douglass Mid-High School. He has left his post temporarily to check on elementary schools and community centers in eastern Oklahoma City that are feeding kids who depend on the meals they get in school.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated 10:32 p.m.

Schools across Oklahoma closed for a second day, as teachers continue to rally for more education funding.

Packed the inside the Capitol building – thousands of people chanted “What do we want? Funding! When do we want it? Now.”

State lawmakers approved a teacher pay raise last week, but educators say this rally is about getting more money for the classroom.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Teachers are protesting in the state capitols of Oklahoma and Kentucky, as heard here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHERS: (Singing) We're not going to take it anymore.

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