teacher pay

Teachers in Arizona are staging what they're calling a walk-in today. They're asking lawmakers for a 20 percent pay raise and for school funding to return to pre-recession levels. This comes as teachers in Oklahoma continue their walk-out. After more than a week of protests and dozens of closed schools across the state, Oklahoma lawmakers have already agreed to increase teacher pay and school funding.

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.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the historic teacher walkout which has brought thousands of educators and supporters to call for more school funding and Tulsa oilman George Kaiser says more tax hikes are needed after pay raises for education and state workers last 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.

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. 

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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