- The Oklahoma Education Association moved up a deadline for action from Oklahoma legislators.
- Originally they said if educators don't fund pay raises and education needs by April 23, schools will shut down.
- That deadline for legislators was moved up to April 1.
- If no funding plan is passed then school shut downs begin April 2.
- This is the latest push by educators for higher teacher pay in Oklahoma.
Officials from the Oklahoma Education Association set a deadline for action from Oklahoma legislators amid a call from educators across the state for higher pay.
The association's executive director reportedly met with more than 200 superintendents across Oklahoma Tuesday to discuss the issue.
According to a Facebook post by the education association, the group decided to set an April 23 deadline for lawmakers to fund pay raises and education needs. The next day the deadline for lawmakers to take action was moved up to April 1.
If no action is taken school shutdowns begin April 2.
Here's their Facebook video about the change:
An Oklahoma Education Association survey found that 85 percent of teachers do want to strike and 75 percent of parents would support that strike.
Oklahoma Teachers United said they will hold meetings in Oklahoma City and Tulsa Wednesday to discuss possible walkout dates.
As educators continue to discuss action, lawmakers are working on at least two bills that would allocate a $5,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers.
One bill would raise the funding without increasing taxes, according to Representative Bobby Cleveland (R-District 20).
Despite the effort, some lawmakers released statements supporting teachers' rights to action.
Representative Regina Goodwin said, in a statement, that a walkout would be an "action of the unheard," and said that legislators have a second plan that would increase taxes on certain items to fund teacher raises:
"Protests and walkouts are actions of the unheard. A teacher pay increase is long overdue. We have a plan that would get 28 Democrat votes. The Republican Gary Jones, State Auditor, offered the plan- a 5 percent gross production tax on all wells, .75 cent cigarette tax, 3 cent gas tax, 6 cent diesel at pump tax, 17.5 thousand itemized deduction cap. Teachers would get a $5,000 pay raise."
Representative Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) released a statement supporting teachers across the state Wednesday:
"As a parent of a 4th grader, I see firsthand how the cuts to education over the last 8 years have been absolutely devastating to schools across the state. These teachers are once again standing up for kids like mine and I support them 100%"
Senator JJ Dossett (D-Owasso) also noted a need for the state to invest in education:
"We need to invest, in education in the state.”
FOX23 reached out to area school districts for responses.
Tulsa Public School Superintendent Deborah Gist said the district has presented a three-step protest. The first stage would encourage teachers to only work within their contract requirements and discourage them from coming in early or staying late. A second stage would allow for teachers from each school to walkout in groups of 10 and encourage them to travel to the state capitol to protest before returning and allowing 10 more teachers to protest. The final step would allow teachers to participate in a full-on strike.
In a tweet later on Wednesday, Gist said the Tulsa Board of Education stands behind educators choosing to take action across the state.
The Tulsa Board of Education and I stand strongly in support of our teachers. We are behind the leadership of the TCTA and OEA. If they say April 2nd is the day, then that’s the day! Until then we’ll continue to do all we can to avoid it. Please join us.— Deborah Gist (@deborahgist) March 8, 2018
Union Public School officials sent this statement:
“We are supportive of a teacher walk-out, as teacher pleas for a pay raise have gone largely ignored. Teachers have been offered nothing but false hopes and a lack of meaningful action from our legislators. If teachers decide en masse they are not going to come to work, districts will have no choice but to call off school. Too many of our teachers are leaving our state for greener pastures, as teacher pay in Oklahoma is among the worst in our nation. We are already in a dire crisis, and to ignore this issue continues to put Oklahoma’s children and future at risk.”
Jenks Public Schools sent this statement:
“With a potential teacher walk-out being discussed across the state of Oklahoma, Jenks Public Schools completely understands the desire of teachers to take action for higher compensation. JPS supports the right of its teachers to walk out and will continue to advocate for teacher raises, as well as for additional operational funding. When teachers are valued, respected, and paid accordingly, our students stand to benefit. Unfortunately, with many qualified teachers leaving the state and teacher salaries at the bottom of the national scale, our students stand to lose too much. If a walk-out occurs, many districts will be forced to cancel school. The legislature needs to take action as soon as possible to avoid such a disruption to our students and our schools.”
The move is the latest in an effort among Oklahoma teachers to receive higher pay and fight education cuts at the state level.
In West Virginia, teachers fighting for higher pay held a nine-day statewide walkout until the governor signed a bill raising wages for educators.
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