04 April, 2018
"We must be responsible not to neglect other areas of need in the state, such as corrections and health and human services, as we continue to consider additional education funding measures", the Republican said.
"I try not to cry because it's been a long time coming", said Kimberly Miller, who teaches at Santa Fe High School in Edmond.
Morgan Walker, a chemistry teacher at Rockcastle County High School in Kentucky, told Mother Jones that her motivation for protesting is simple. For them, the $50 million increase in general education funding signed last week isn't enough. "Never have I ever thought" that he'd be negotiating with lawmakers on the one side and teachers on the other, he says.
Ahead of the rally, some teachers had participated in a "sickout" where they collectively called in sick, which led to some schools being closed. "This isn't just about salaries or money", she says. In addition, some schools do not have electricity because of unpaid bills. The spending and taxing proposals cleared the Senate on Monday and went to the House, which was expected to vote on the measures later Monday.
These strikes follow a similar nine day protest in West Virginia last month, which resulted in a five-percent pay raise - making it the state's first raise for teachers in almost four years.
"They are counting on you to go away silently", Priest told the state's teachers.
She said that she believes companies don't come to Oklahoma due to the dismal state of its public education system.
Oklahoma is dealing with a severe teacher shortage, and many districts have moved to four-day school weeks in order to save money.
Tens of thousands of teachers, parents, and students standing shoulder to shoulder at the capital in Oklahoma City. "I feel like they're choosing oil and gas over education", one public school teacher told Tulsa World.
Union officials did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.More news: NCAA Tournament: A sanity check as Duke, Kansas, Villanova win
Thousands of teachers and education supporters are marching in Oklahoma City, and schools all over the state are closed ahead of a rally at the state Capitol for more education funding.
According to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, adjustments to inflation in the state, have led to the state spending per student at almost 30 percent over the course of the past decade.
On Thursday, Governor Fallin signed HB 1010, which has raised the teachers' pay by anywhere between 15 percent to 18 percent, with an average of US$6,100. Below is the statement from Fallin, who signed a bill last week that gave teachers and state employees a raise.
Oklahoma City Public Schools announced its campuses would be shut through Tuesday.
The bill's passage has thrown the teacher walkout in jeopardy in some school districts that have pulled their support of it, leaving teachers nervous to abandon the classroom.
Overall, tax cuts like these inevitably affect education budgets; state governments fund about half of the cost of public schools, with local taxes and federal programs kicking in the rest. Dozens have been rallying in the state capitol to demand a 20 percent pay increase. But Monday's event is shaping up as their biggest event as lawmakers try to reach agreement on a new budget.
"Well, teachers in the state of Kentucky do not have access to Social Security when we retire, even if we had paid into that system prior to becoming teachers, so this is our only means of support for ourselves when we are of old age", explained Kentucky teacher Angie Buschle. Oklahoma is a right-to-work state, which means that employees don't have to join the unions there. President Alicia Priest said in a video to members kicking off the strike. But some districts not on break had canceled classes Monday because of teachers traveling to the Capitol.
Monday's walkout is part of a wave of protests from educators furious over stagnant wages and cuts to education funding.
A group of west Kentucky teachers protested the passage of a pension reform bill on the steps of the state capitol building Monday.
Sharpe said children are the reason she drove more than two hours to protest in the cold.