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Oklahoma teachers to close down schools, demand pay raises

Oklahoma teachers to close down schools, demand pay raises

The World Socialist Web Site will be posting live, on-the-spot reports from Oklahoma today on its Facebook page.

Oklahoma lawmakers passed a $6,000 teacher pay raise last week, but Alicia Priest, president of the state's largest teachers union, says that's not enough. In West Virginia, it took nine days before a teachers' strike there forced the Governor to award a 5% pay hike.

How long the teachers strike lasts is unknown?

Credit: Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time Is Now!

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, spoke this morning at the Oklahoma rally, saying, "I hope you learned a little bit from West Virginia on what it takes". In Arizona, where teachers are considering a strike, average teacher pay ranks 43rd.

Everyone who wants to see education justice and a revived working class movement needs to support the Oklahoma teachers and public workers. It's also not clear what the Legislature is willing to do in response to the demands for more public school funding.

The primary job of every school superintendent is to oversee everything that goes on in the district.

In an analysis for The Washington Post published Monday, Paglayan explained that teachers in states with tighter collective bargaining laws - typically more liberal and wealthy states - have more to lose by striking. In Arizona, hundreds of teachers walked out last week, and there have been rumbles as far away as New Mexico and Alaska. In 2015, teachers in Detroit staged sickouts in opposition to atrocious conditions in their schools.

"This is the result of a decade of underfunding public schools", Garcia told CNN, speaking from the Oklahoma protest. He believes supporters of pension reform and the biennial budget have not used an effective messaging strategy, especially considering SB 151 includes provisions proposed by education groups like KEA and the budget, House Bill 200, restores numerous education cuts, boosts per-pupil spending in Kentucky classrooms to $4,000, includes health care funding for retired teachers and increases funding for the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

Thousands of teachers in Kentucky and Oklahoma are rallying at both state Capitols in an effort to get lawmakers to approve additional educational funding. The measure has already passed the Republican-controlled state Senate. Priest said the pay raise is a "good starting point". "They're here for resources, here for desks ... we haven't had an operational increase since I've been doing this, and I've been doing this 27, 28 years".

The OEA is seeking to limit the strike as much as possible. "Most of us would give up that crumby little "chunk of change" if it meant our schools (classrooms) would be appropriately funded".

In contrast, the overwhelming sentiment among teachers is for an all-out struggle to secure serious increases.

Many Oklahoma schools, including the three largest districts, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Edmond, closed Monday to honor the walkout.

Teachers at the Capitol on Monday are protesting for more school funding.

Kentucky teachers were primarily protesting proposed changes to pension benefits and demanding more funding for public education. "Ponca City Public Schools will be closed on Monday, April 2, for educators to rally behind the cause of adding the previously promised revenue back into the package".

Teachers were incensed by passage of a bill last week that mandates a hybrid pension plan with individual accounts for new hires. Opponents objected that the pension changes were inserted into an unrelated bill without a chance for public input, and worry that the changes will discourage young people from joining the profession.

The rally began before 9 a.m. outside the Kentucky Education Association building just blocks from the Capitol complex.

"Teachers not only need better pay, but they money for more teachers for smaller class sizes, books, materials, school supplies, and this bill doesn't do that", Deming said. Ducey instead reiterated his proposal for an insulting 1 percent pay increase, less than half of the annual 2.2 percent rate of inflation. Republicans said the bill had to pass Monday to preserve their right to overturn any vetoes from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.


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