Oklahoma teachers hold second day of walk-out protests

Teacher unrest is not just limited to Kentucky. However, teachers said not enough was done to reverse decades of school funding cuts, which have totaled around $200 million since 2008.

"We had a big rally in 2014, but it was only for one day and so legislators were able to avoid seeing people for that day and move on with whatever they wanted to do", Virgin said.

Ahead of the rally, some teachers had participated in a "sickout" where they collectively called in sick, which led to some schools being closed.

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia spoke to thousands during the rally in Oklahoma, saying lawmakers need to do more.

She said the state's largest industries - like wind - should be paying their fair share just like oil.

Felder: Educator frustration in Oklahoma has been growing for years as public school funding has not kept pace with student growth.

Kelley says lack of funding has made many teachers jobs in her field more hard.

Passage followed threats by educators to walk out of classrooms beginning Monday, following the lead of teachers in West Virginia who won a 5 per cent raise after going on strike.

Teachers by the thousands also demonstrated in the Kentucky state capital Frankfort.

According to the Tulsa World, with the new raise in teacher salary Oklahoma will reside at approximately 28th in the nation for teacher wages, but the spending per-pupil problem has still not been addressed by the state legislature.

"Our unions have been weakened so much that a lot of teachers don't have faith" in them, said Noah Karvelis, an elementary school music teacher in Tolleson, Arizona, outside Phoenix, and leader of the movement calling itself #RedforEd, after the red T-shirts protesting teachers are wearing across the country.

Union officials did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

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In Arizona, thousands of teachers gathered in Phoenix last week to demand a 20 percent pay raise and more funding for schools.

Chants deafened the Oklahoma Capitol rotunda Tuesday morning as teachers from the across the state continued to advocate for more funding during the second day of the statewide teacher walkout.

Kentucky's GOP-controlled legislature said the pension reform bill was crafted to help the state cover a $41 billion shortfall in pension costs over the next 30 years.

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. And others said they're not sure if they trust lawmakers to keep their promises to continually finance raises and education funding increases.

"We have a nurse on our campus one day a week and a counselor one day a week", Collins said. "I taught school in Texas nine years ago before coming to Oklahoma and I see how the schools are left out of funding". Teachers in West Virginia went on a almost two-week strike in late February and early March, eventually winning a 5 percent pay raise.

On Monday evening EPS announced that due to an increased number of teacher absences, the decision has been made to cancel school Tuesday, April 3.

The court ruled the state needs to properly fund education.

In Oklahoma, she said, the schools aren't performing well because the state has cut programs and funding.

Amanda Carter, a middle school teacher from Rowan County, says the plan doesn't provide the same security as the conventional defined-benefit pensions now received by teachers.

Coverage from the State Capitol will continue as long as the teacher walkout.

First, Oklahoma politicians slashed the income tax rate, predicting that the cuts would increase overall consumer spending and attract more businesses to the state, much like the justification for the Trump administration-backed federal tax cuts passed this year.

"We will be back in the schools when our members tell us to", Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told CNN earlier. Teachers in Kentucky protested Monday as well, opposing changes to their pension system.

  • Sonia Alvarado