OKLAHOMA CITY – As teachers continue to fight for additional educational funding, country music superstar Carrie Underwood announced her support for Oklahoma educators.
Over the past several years, budget cuts have negatively impacted numerous state agencies, including the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
Despite having less money in the budget, the Oklahoma State Department of Education says that student enrollment continues to rise.
Officials say 694,816 students were enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at the start of the school year, which is about 1,000 more than last year.
Last 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 was tentatively planning a teacher walkout for April 2 if legislators didn’t meet those demands.
Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that raises teachers’ salaries by an average of $6,100. It also gives $1,250 raises for support staff and adds $50 million in education funding.
Teachers say the bill doesn’t do enough to restore funding to classrooms, especially after lawmakers worked to repeal a part of the measure that was expected to generate $50 million.
On Monday, thousands of educators flocked to the Capitol to demand change.
They have returned to the Capitol every day since then.
Now, Carrie Underwood has announced her support.
She posted a photo to Instagram of her sisters, who are teachers, at the Capitol, saying she is proud of them.
So proud of my sisters…Making a difference for the best reason…KIDS! Here’s hoping OK schools get the funding they need so students and teachers can come back to a great learning environment! Love you guys! #ProudSister#Oklahoma #Education #TeachersRock
Several other celebrities have also shown their support for Oklahoma teachers.
Last month, Bette Midler tweeted out her support for the teacher walkout.
“Is this America? Teachers in Oklahoma make ends meet by SELLING THEIR BLOOD PLASMA! THEY ARE THE VICTIMS OF UNBELIEVABLE CUTBACKS! #STRIKE,” she tweeted.
Also, the walkout got the support of a couple of Oklahoma natives.
James Marsden, a graduate of Putnam City North High School, posted a photo of himself wearing a shirt supporting Putnam City Public Schools.
Olivia Munn, another graduate of Putnam City North High School, also tweeted out her support for teachers.
“Both of my grandparents were Oklahoma public school educators and made enough to support their family and have a rich life. It’s SHAMEFUL that Oklahoma teachers can’t do that today. I stand with them! #oklahomateacherwalkout #oklahoma,” Munn tweeted.