Oklahoma Senate Passes Legislation Increasing Teacher Pay; Walkout Still Imminent

Oklahoma students walkout in support of teachers

Oklahoma teachers plan to walk out of schools next week

She touted the change as "the largest teacher pay raise in the history of the state" and planned to sign the bill Thursday afternoon, regardless of plans for the teacher strike to proceed.

The Senate voted 36-10 late Wednesday to increase taxes on cigarettes, fuel, lodging, and oil and gas production - narrowly receiving the three-fourth's majority needed to pass.

But he agrees with Bud Hardcastle on one thing: Anderson hopes the almost $450 million tax package lawmakers agreed to send to schools actually improves conditions in Oklahoma's classrooms - and all that tax money isn't wasted.

He said the pay raise Gov. Fallin signed into law is a "significant gain" and walking out could put the district at risk of losing community support.

Oklahoma teachers, who have not had a raise since 2007, have set a statewide walkout for Monday to pressure lawmakers.

Still have questions about what the teacher pay raise is, who it impacts and how it's being paid for can be confusing, just as tracking what happens at the state capitol on a day-to-day basis.

"It is completely about the students - even the teacher pay raise is about students", Priest said.

While Governor Mary Fallin did sign HB1010XX on Thursday, the Senate still has the opportunity to consider the repeal.

Legislators are already getting "beat up by their constituents" in their home districts for agreeing to raise taxes, said Ginger Tinney, executive director of the Professional Oklahoma Educators association.

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Under the Legislature's plan, the starting certified teacher salary will be increased by about $5,000 - from $32,600 to $37,759.

At 47th, Oklahoma ranks poorly in public school revenue per student, which is $3,000 per year.

More experienced classroom teachers would receive an even larger raise based on years of service and certification.

"No one should assume that Oklahoma City will be having classes on Tuesday", said Ed Allen, president of Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, the union that bargains with Oklahoma City Public Schools on behalf of 2,600 teachers.

Cameron school staff also posted a notice to Facebook, stating that although teachers are encouraged by the work legislators have done, "We feel that the current plan does not place enough emphasis on one of the most important issues, which is the funding of our students". The reforms were funded by tax increases, which many Oklahomans were not happy about.

A host of Tulsa-area schools have announced school closures for next week because of the looming teacher walkout. "Lawmakers have left funding on the table that could be used immediately to help Oklahoma students", she wrote.

"[Lawmakers] have cut hundreds of millions of dollars toward education funding so we can't buy any textbooks", Morejon said. Proud of our staff and thankful for our supportive administration and school board.

From the very beginning, the struggle in Oklahoma, as in West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona and other states, has been initiated by rank-and-file educators sick of decades of union-backed concessions and complicity in budget cutting.

Approving tax hikes in Oklahoma is extraordinarily hard, requiring a three-fourths supermajority in both chambers.

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