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Oklahoma’s ‘panhandling teacher’ says OEA’s teacher pay raise plan doesn’t go far enough

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.

For teachers who decided to stay in Oklahoma, many are being forced to pay for supplies out of their own pockets.

Teresa Danks, a third grade teacher in Tulsa, turned to panhandling to help raise money for school supplies.

“It all adds up week after week, and month after month,” she said. “So it’s a huge need.”

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Education Association announced a deadline for lawmakers to fund a teacher pay raise and increase spending on public education.

“We will not allow lawmakers to once again shortchange our students, our teachers and our support professionals. So today,  we’re putting lawmakers on notice- they must work swiftly to follow the law and pass an education budget by April 1. If that budget doesn’t include a meaningful pay raise for teachers and support professionals, and additional funding to restore cuts to Oklahoma classrooms, OEA calls for statewide school closures beginning April 2,” OEA President Alicia Priest said in a Facebook video.

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.

Now, Danks, who became well-known for the lengths she went through to provide school supplies for her students, is speaking out about the plan.

Danks decided to create the ‘Begging for Education’ fund to help other Oklahoma teachers who are also spending thousands out of their own pocket to help their students.

“In response to the OEA’s announcement today regarding the “Walkout” of educators across the state of Okalhoma, the Begging for Education Foundation does stand with educators for the desperately needed salary increase of $10,000. We DO NOT agree with the OEA’s position of a three-year rollout. This full $10,000 salary increase should become effective July 1st, 2018 and raise the annual “Step Increase” by 2.5% to compensate for inflation. This is required to retain current educators and recruit new educators into the profession,” a news release read.

The foundation is also hoping to see a ‘classroom allowance’ given to teachers to spend on classroom needs, like school supplies.