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Oklahoma approves teacher pay increase but union says it’s not enough, walkout still on

Oklahoma legislators approved a measure including a $6,100 pay raise for teachers on Wednesday, but the state teacher's union says the bill doesn't go far enough and plans to walk out Monday.

House Bill 1010XX, which was described as "the largest teacher pay raise in the history of the state" passed both the state House and Senate this week. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said she would sign the bill.

"I appreciate our lawmakers putting people over politics by approving this package of revenue measures to fund teacher pay raises as well as provide additional money for the classroom," Fallin said in a statement Wednesday.

For weeks, Oklahoma teachers have been considering a walkout over what they say is their breaking point over pay and education funding. The state ranks 49th in the nation in teacher salaries, according to the National Education Association, in a list that includes Washington, D.C. Mississippi and South Dakota rank lower.

Inspired by the West Virginia strike in which teachers demanded and got a pay raise from state leaders earlier this month, similar efforts have taken off in Oklahoma and Arizona.

The Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union that represents nearly 40,000 members and school personnel, called the passage of the bill "a truly historic moment," but one that remains "incomplete" according to its president Alicia Priest.

Teachers and school staff will walk off their jobs on Monday and descend on the state Capitol, she said in video comments posted on Facebook.

"While this is major progress, this investment alone will not undo a decade of neglect," she said. "Lawmakers have left funding on the table that could be used immediately to help Oklahoma students."

"This package doesn't overcome shortfall caused by four-day weeks, overcrowded classrooms that deprive kids of the one-on-one attention they need. It's not enough," Priest said. "We must continue to push for more annual funding for our schools to reduce class size and restore more of the 28% of funds they cut from education over the last decade."

The OEA had also called for $10,000 pay raises for teachers over the next three years and $5,000 pay raises for full-time support professionals such as custodians, secretaries, bus drivers and food service workers.

"We asked for $10,000 over three years. This gets us part of the way there, and so we need to have the Legislature guarantee that we are still working to get to that," Priest had told CNN affiliate KFOR.