Education

"I'm 54 years old and my paycheck is $1,980 [a month]. I can't afford f****** health insurance."

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Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated 5:25 p.m.

Public schools from every corner of the state closed their doors today as teachers walked out of the classroom and marched at the Oklahoma capitol to protest years of cuts to education funding.

Last week, Governor Mary Fallin signed the first statewide tax increase in nearly 30 years to give teachers a roughly $6,100 raise. The nearly $450 million deal increased taxes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production in hopes of heading off the teacher walkout.

Thousands of public school teachers across Oklahoma will stay out of the classroom – and many will take to the streets — starting today, after they rejected a pay raise they said fails to compensate for some of the lowest educators' salaries in the country.

Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed raises of around $6,100 – about 15 to 18 percent per teacher, as well as $33 million for textbooks and $18 million in additional school funding, to be paid for with a tax increase on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production.

Oklahoma Teachers To Strike This Week

Apr 1, 2018

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As of Thursday morning, SB 151 was a bill about sewage services.

But by the time both chambers of the Kentucky Legislature had passed it that night, the amendment process had turned the bill about sewage into a 291-page overhaul of public employees' retirement benefits. Now, it rests on Gov. Matt Bevin's desk awaiting his signature — and teachers across the state are livid.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After months of gridlock and failed deal-making, the Oklahoma House and Senate have passed a nearly $450 million tax package designed to fund raises for teachers and avoid statewide school closures.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she’ll sign the tax package, which fell short of teachers’ demands. Educators still plan to march at the Capitol April 2 to pressure lawmakers to spend more on schools and public employees and continue a debate that has highlighted growing gaps and frustrations over taxes and government.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Governor Mary Fallin signed a teacher pay raise into law on Thursday, giving educators their first state-funded salary boost in 10 years. On average, they’ll get about $6,000, but many of them are still walking out of their classrooms on Monday.

 

Mark Webb, a science teacher at Mustang High School, is one of them. He says he appreciates the pay raise but he still wants more money for the classroom.

“We have not funded education properly since 2007,” he said. “And that message has been lost today.”

Kelly Burley / KOSU

On Wednesday afternoon, teachers in Stillwater got an after-school jump on a planned statewide walkout next week.

At one of the city’s busiest intersections, 6th and Western, roughly 40 Stillwater public schools teachers and students waved signs as passing motorists tapped their car and truck horns in seeming approval.

Celeste Fox, a 26-year educator who teaches second grade at nearby Westwood Elementary School, says it’s time to stem the long-rolling tide of education budget cuts in Oklahoma.

Updated 8:58 p.m.

After more than three hours of discussions behind closed doors, the Oklahoma Senate made quick work of three bills that would help fund a teacher pay raise package and potentially avoid next week’s teacher walkout.

Senators passed three bills Wednesday night:

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