teacher pay

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 passing of political commentator and journalist Mike McCarville, the State Supreme Court dismisses a challenge against its newest justice Patrick Wyrick and Sallisaw Republican Representative John Bennett requires participants of Muslim Day to fill out a controversial questionnaire over the Islamic religion.

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A plan approved overwhelmingly in the House to raise Oklahoma teacher pay by $6,000 over the next three years appears to be facing a stiffer challenge in the state Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said Thursday without a way to pay for the raise, House Bill 1114 amounts to giving teachers "false hope."

oksenate.gov

A Oklahoma Senate subcommittee passed seven bills about teacher pay on Wednesday, each one providing a different solution to the teacher pay problem.

Some of the bills propose $1,000 raises, others $10,000. Some provide funding mechanisms, while others do not.

Senator J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso) says this is just the beginning of the conversation. He says the legislature knows raising teacher pay is the right thing to do and they've just got to figure out the right way to do it.

oksenate.gov

Governor Mary Fallin stressed the need for teacher pay raises in her State of the State address on Monday, and has allocated $60 million toward $1,000 teacher salary bumps in her proposed budget.

But still, legislative leaders like Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz were hesitant to guarantee it would get done this year.

“Oh I think it’s going to be one of the main areas of discussion,” Schulz said, “And I think we will leave this session in May with a framework in place to put a teacher plan on the table moving forward.”

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Every year, lawmakers file hundreds of education bills that have the potential to change the way schools operate. Some would implement minor tweaks, but others—like Education Savings Account legislation—are much more controversial.

In this list, we’ve tried to focus on the legislation that affects the bigger picture, and also the legislation that represents larger debates in the state.  

GENERAL INTEREST

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Oklahoma lawmakers will be confronted by familiar issues when they convene the 2017 Oklahoma Legislature.

Leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Senate say they'll focus on their priorities when the four-month legislative session begins on Monday.

High on that list is coping with an $870 million state budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin will call for "a major overhaul of our tax system" in her state-of-the-state speech to tap new revenue streams to help boost teacher pay and meet other needs.

oksenate.gov

Republican leaders in the Oklahoma Senate gathered Thursday for a press conference on their agenda for the coming legislative session.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz says the work of this session goes beyond just this year and looks to the future.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Oklahoma’s state government is facing a budget deficit of around $900 million. One of the casualties of the state's fiscal woes: public schools. They're left facing tough choices like implementing a shorter school week, canceling classes, and consolidating districts. All this as the system is facing a shrinking teacher population and rising class sizes.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Oklahoma City Public Schools administrators invited legislators and community leaders to "teach for a day." The district hoped lawmakers would have a better understanding of a teacher's responsibilities after spending a day in their shoes.

Oklahoma Senator David Holt spent part of his day reading with first graders at Quail Creek Elementary School. Other lawmakers and community leaders went to other schools in the district.

Holt says he knows quite a bit about the school because his kids go there, but on Tuesday, he learned a lot more.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Oklahoma public schools are on the ropes after years of budget cuts.  Four-day school weeks and more. We’ll take it as a big case study and and look at Donald Trump’s new education secretary.

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