OKLAHOMA CITY – For years, teachers have been asking Oklahoma lawmakers to find a way to fund a pay raise for educators across the state.
When another legislative session came to a close without a teacher pay raise, many educators decided to leave the classroom or the Sooner State for better pay.
Lilli Lyon, a Spanish teacher at Moore West Junior High School, told News 4 that she is seeing many teachers leave the state for schools in Texas.
“The cost of living there is very comparable, and the one is making $14,000 more a year just by driving four or five hours down that way,” Lyon said.
Now, a local organization is releasing the results of a survey regarding the potential for a school walkout.
The Oklahoma Education Association claims that nearly 80 percent of respondents said they would support a plan to close schools in order to force the legislature to focus on education.
“The survey results showed overwhelming support for a statewide shutdown of schools from more than 10,000 educators, parents, students and community members,” said Alicia Priest, the OEA President and a Spanish teacher from Yukon.
The group is seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.
“Lawmakers have ignored repeated advocacy efforts by OEA members — including thousands of emails and phone calls to lawmakers, days of action at the Capitol, and community forums across the state,” Priest said. “This has led to this crucial grassroots movement of educators to take drastic efforts to save public education and ensure students receive a quality education that prepares them for the future."
When asked if it was time for schools to close in order for educators to head to the Capitol, the following respondents answered 'yes':
- 81% of OEA members
- 81% of non-member education employees
- 76% of parents
- 76% of retired education employees
- 75% of community members
- 75% of students.