MCALESTER, Okla. – An Oklahoma teacher is sharing her story on why she plans to walk out despite the recent bill that was passed that would give teachers a raise.
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.
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 KFOR.
McAlester teacher Laurissa Kovacs recently posted to Facebook explaining why she plans to walkout despite the bill that recently passed.
“Ok here’s my story and why I’m walking out. This is my fourth year teaching in Oklahoma and after taxes and insurance I take home $2,311 a month, $27,732 a year. I could make about 20 grand more by moving to Texas or Arkansas, and many teachers are doing just that. Oklahoma is losing qualified teachers every day. These kids deserve the opportunity of a great education but we cannot give them that if all our teachers are emergency certified or completely over worked.
I teach six classes each day. As of today this is how many students I have in art class:
2nd Hour- 30 students
3rd Hour- 27 students
4th Hour- 32 students
5th Hour- 19 students
6th Hour- 23 students
7th Hour- 30 students
This is way too many students for one class. Especially art class. I’ve had to cut back on the fun, ambitious, and exciting projects literally because there isn’t enough room on the table for 32 kids. I literally do not have enough chairs for 32 students. This photo is something every one of my students is familiar with. This chair, or cheek-pincher, is what my students have to sit on. Most of the chairs in my room look like this. Once they get to this point it’s only a matter of time before the bottom goes completely out. Today a student actually carried his chair with him to sharpen his pencil because he got in early enough to get a good chair. I’ve gotten a few new students and had to throw a bottom-less chair away so tomorrow I’m having to bring in a couple of folding chairs I have here at home. That’s why I’m walking out.
These kids deserve so much better than this.
They deserve teachers who are qualified to teach.
They deserve classes that are small enough that the teachers can actually spend some time with each student.
They deserve CHAIRS.
They deserve a quality education just as much as kids in surrounding states.
This is about so much more than a raise. It’s about the future of Oklahoma. That’s why I’m walking out.
And this bill that just passed is no where near enough to make an actual difference. I’m still ready to walk out and stand my ground.”
Kovacs post has received more than 325 shares on Facebook.