COLLINSVILLE, Okla. – With a teacher walkout just days away, one Oklahoma teacher has explained why she still plans to walk out of class after the legislature failed to pass a measure to restore education funding.
For several years, the Oklahoma State Department of Education has suffered budget cuts.
Many schools across the state were forced to make cuts to arts, athletics and instructional materials.
For years, Oklahoma teachers have shared stories about using their own money for books and school supplies.
Despite having less money in the budget, the Oklahoma State Department of Education says that student enrollment continues to rise.
Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it 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 didn’t increase teacher and staff pay.
On Thursday, Gov. Fallin signed HB 1010, which calls for a $447 million tax increase to fund teacher pay raises.
The plan offers an average $6,000 pay increase for all teachers, but it starts at $5,000 for first-year teachers and is expected to gradually increase over time.
However, many educators say they are still going to walk out because lawmakers didn’t restore education funding.
Ali Ryder, a teacher at Collinsville Public Schools, recently posted to Facebook why she thinks it is important for the teachers to walkout.
“So here’s the thing with these new “teacher pay raise” bills going through:
We would have HAPPILY accepted this after our rally at the capitol a year ago.
We would have HAPPILY accepted this after our rally at the capital two years ago.
…three years ago.
…four years ago.
….five years ago.
…six years ago.
…seven years ago.
…eight years ago.
…nine years ago.
…TEN YEARS AGO!!
But they said, “It’s not possible. We don’t have the money. It will happen next year.”
Well, after TEN YEARS of this, plus massive budget cuts every year, we are DONE with their games and empty promises. If this much funding couldn’t be done before when we’ve begged, it is just so magical that it SUDDENLY could be done now!
They want to silence us and make us look bad when we don’t accept it. They can do better. They HAVE to do better now that they’ve backed us into a corner. They pushed us to our breaking points and now it is going to take MORE to fix this.
Sure, this bill gives us a raise. But you know what it doesn’t do?
It doesn’t get us enough copy paper so we aren’t begging parents for some by November.
It doesn’t lower our class sizes.
It doesn’t help us afford more teachers or aides.
It doesn’t get us all the updated curriculum we need.
It doesn’t convince new teachers to stay in Oklahoma when they can STILL make $10k-$20k more across the borders.
It doesn’t keep quality teachers here for the same reasons.
It doesn’t get us enough pencils, tissues, paint, markers, computers, etc.
And there is no guarantee that this revenue will generate enough for these “promises” year after year.
If we accepted this and stood down (like they want), how many years will go by this time before our students see more funding again?
In fact, OEA projected the revenue measures for these bills. Between Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020, the revenue is expected to drop $107.7 MILLION!! So which part won’t be funded if that happens??
So for those who think teachers are being selfish for not accepting this pay raise and moving on, think again. It would be more selfish to accept a pay raise when our kids are not being fully funded still!!”
Ryder’s post has received more than 248 shares on Facebook.