OKLAHOMA CITY – Several school districts across the metro are now speaking out following an announcement by the state’s largest teacher’s union about a possible walkout.
The Oklahoma Education Association 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.
OEA announced that it is tentatively planning a teacher walkout for April 2 if legislators don’t increase teacher and staff pay.
“Our goals remain the same- to force the legislature to pass a plan that provides teachers and support professionals a significant pay raise, and restores critical funding to our classrooms,” said OEA President Alicia Priest in a video posted to the union’s Facebook page. “We will not allow lawmakers, once again, to shortchange our students, our teachers and our support professionals.”
Now, several school districts throughout the metro are sending a message of support to their teachers.
Principals with the Oklahoma City Public School District say they support their teachers, even if they decide to walk out of class next month.
In a statement, the group claims that 76% of principals in Oklahoma City support canceling class in order to send a message to lawmakers.
"In the last decade, [lawmakers] have been unable or unwilling to fully fund public education. In doing so, legislators have not only created a teacher shortage crisis in the state of Oklahoma but have also devalued the education profession to the point where educators and their supporters across the state now see no recourse but to bring us to the bring of school closures statewide. This is an action of last resort," the statement read.
Officials with the Mustang Public School District say they will also support their teachers, saying they will close the schools if need be. The district says that if the walkout lasts longer than seven days, they will have to make up any additional time that is lost.
"This is really important! Your administration, your Board of Education, and your community all support you. Each of your has to make the decision about walking out. If you choose to do so we support you. If you choose not to walk out, we support you equally," the district wrote in a Facebook post.
Yukon Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth posted a video to address several issues in the district, including the teacher walkout.
"Our job is to support our teachers," Dr. Simeroth said, adding that they hope to work with lawmakers to avoid a walkout.
Simeroth says that without a pay raise for teachers and increased funding for education, all of Oklahoma will continue to suffer.
"People with businesses, major corporations, will not come to Oklahoma as long as the legislative process basically says that your public schools aren't worth our efforts," he said.