By Rob Shimshock
Thousands of Oklahoma teachers walked out of school Monday and protested at the state capitol for higher salaries and increased funding.
Oklahoma legislators approved a $6,100 raise for state teachers across the board in an attempt to evade the walk-out, but teachers proceeded with the protest, NBC News reported.
“My niece sits on the floor in her middle school English class in Moore, Okla., because they’re overloaded into the class and don’t have enough furniture,” Edmond Public Schools elementary teacher Carrie Akins told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “My son in ninth grade had to get an override on his schedule because his Spanish class was too full … he was student number 41 in the class. As a state, we have failed them.”
Akins wants smaller class sizes, better teachers, and more funding for classroom materials, the teacher mentioned.
“I hate that administrators won’t get rid of a bad teacher (provided they don’t break laws or mistreat students) because there are no other teachers lining up to teach,” Akins said to TheDCNF. “The lack of competition brings quality down to the point of emergency certifications without any education requirements. Our kids deserve better!”
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) April 2, 2018
The Oklahoma Education Association demanded a $10,000 raise for teachers who went a decade without receiving a state raise. The state ranks 49 out of 50 states for teacher salaries, according to the National Education Association. The legislature approved a $6,100 raise, also allocating $1,250 for support staff and $50 million extra for education funding, according to CNN. The raise bumps Oklahoma teacher salaries up to 28th in the nation, according to Tulsa World.
The $50 million “will buy less than one textbook per student in Oklahoma,” according to OEA President Alicia Priest. “We’ve been cut over 28 percent in the last 10 years in education funding, and our schools just can’t maintain all of the supplies, instructional materials, textbooks, even copy paper.”
Thirty-thousand individuals will attend the walk-out, NBC News projected. Teacher Heather Caram will be departing Oklahoma to teach in Georgia, Caram, whose sign said “Oklahoma’s #1 export is teachers,” told MSNBC.
Sarah Drake, an 8th grade teacher in Marlow, Oklahoma says some school districts in the state have gone to 4-day work weeks because “the schools can’t afford to keep the lights on.” Also, “so teachers can work extra jobs.” #OKWalk4Kids pic.twitter.com/pS1gWnKWVb
— Nick Valencia (@CNNValencia) April 2, 2018
A high plurality of Oklahoma school employees (47.86 percent) still want $5,000 more in a pay raise, according to survey results Akins sent to TheDCNF. A multitude (37.75 percent) of survey respondents wanted $150 million in school funding in addition to the $50 million state legislators already allotted. The survey queried 7,269 teachers, administrators and support staff.
The walk-out will last at least through Tuesday; the state’s two largest school districts, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, have canceled classes for Tuesday, Priest said, according to ABC News. The initiative has also lasted longer for teachers like Akins, who picketed with her students Friday:
Kentucky teachers also protested Monday over pension system changes, which cut benefits for new teachers, CBS News reported.