Schools to remain shut in OKC Tuesday
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 03, 2018,
Apr 03, 2018, 0:53
And many say they'll keep fighting until lawmakers meet their demands.
"That's not enough, says Brendan Jarvis, a middle school geography teacher just outside of Tulsa: "[Legislators] are not talking about anything right now that teachers are happy with".
Teachers held a massive rally at the state Capitol in 2014, dozens of teachers ran for state office in 2016, and there was an unsuccessful effort two years ago to pass a statewide sales tax to fund a pay raise. However, teachers have demanded a $10,000 pay increase over three years and a $5,000 raise for support personnel like bus drivers and custodians.
And there's no end to the walkout in sight.
Teachers rally at the state capitol on April 2, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The rally was organized in response to a bill passed last Thursday by state lawmakers altering the pension benefits structure for new teachers. Kentucky Education Association president Stephanie Winkler said educators will be closely watching legislative proposals for education spending.
The movement has pushed people like Self - who described herself as quiet and has never participated in a protest - to the front lines of the battle for school funding. Educators say the bill cuts into their futures too much and would only generate $300 million in savings. "Never have I ever thought" that he'd be negotiating with lawmakers on the one side and teachers on the other, he says.
"We're all compassionate, and we're all caring about students, and we want to be the very best we can be", Norton said.
Oklahoma's Republican-controlled legislature last week approved the state's first major tax increase in a quarter century to help fund pay raises for teachers, hoping to avert a strike with a $450 million revenue package. Every day you're going home and you're just feeling like, I failed. "Copies are limited in schools to maybe 30 a week".
"At this point, we are continuing to protest until our voices are heard", said Gerry Brooks, principal at Liberty Elementary in Lexington.
There will be no changes to annual cost of living adjustments, which will remain at 1.5%.
EPS announced early last week no classes would take place Monday, as 86 percent of teachers polled indicated they would follow an OEA-led work stoppage, if it occurred.
Nemes said he believes Republican lawmakers have enough time to educate the public on what's included in the budget and pension reform bills ahead of the November elections.
Friday's impromptu protest resulted in the closure of schools in over 20 counties, with even more schools expected to be shut down Monday.
Jewell tells Policy Watch the day will focus on teacher pay, textbook funding, classroom resources and "stopping the tax breaks for the wealthy and [corporations] and reinvesting in public schools".
It's a way to show not only his wife's 16-year pain but the pain of thousands of other teachers across the state.
Norton said she's excited and nervous about the teacher walkout but said she knows she has people backing her.
"It's just an outright assault on public education".
"Instead of talking specifically about teachers, I'm going to use another example, of a firefighter", James Deming said in the demonstration. School leaders have had to cut art and music programs, and many schools have lost support staff, which comes out of the general budget. And it's bad, because our kids deserve better.