Why a teacher walkout could threaten Oklahoma's blood supply

Oklahoma superstar chimes in about teacher walkout

Madeline Jacobson, a third grade teacher in Tulsa, cries and cheers at the state Capitol after walkers from Tulsa arrives at the Capitol, as protests continue over school funding, in Oklahoma City, April 10, 2018.

In April, lawmakers raised salaries for teachers by an average of $6,100, increased pay for support staff by $1,250, and added $50 million in funding for schools.

Republican lawmakers said they have made major moves to boost education spending and it may be hard to find more money.

"People have asked me, 'Why do you stay in Oklahoma?'" said 28-year-old Heather Cody, a single mother who was forced to move back in with her parents to make ends meet while teaching.

She said Fallin must veto the Legislature's repeal of the hotel-motel tax, and the Legislature must pass a bill ending the state's capital gains tax deduction.

Fallin signed the bill Tuesday as well as two other measures to generate new revenue to help pay for teacher pay raises and public classroom needs. Oklahoma teachers have been off the job for six school days-and counting. But the package wasn't almost as much as educators demanded, so major school districts shuttered and the walkout ensued.

Teachers are seeking more funding for their students and classrooms. "For that reason, I personally think they need to continue to force the legislature to do more".

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However, Republicans in the State House of Representatives don't appear to be listening. "These kids are being cheated and Oklahoma is reaping what they've sown for our education and our children".

"We stand united. We fight, and they're not going to divide us", said Sharita Stalnaker, an Edmond teacher.

The Legislature approved $2.9 billion for public schools, an increase of almost 20 percent over last year's spending.

Sharica Cole, Ben Franklin Science Academy staffer, said she felt enthused by the show of support. Supporters of the bill said the changes are necessary to save the state's pension systems.

As Ed Allen, the leader of the Oklahoma City AFT, told National Public Radio last week, "Never have I thought" the union would be negotiating with legislators on the one side and teachers on the other.

"As far as this year, we've accomplished a whole lot, and I just don't know how much more we can get done this session", said Pfeiffer.

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