EDMOND, Okla. – With a teacher walkout just days away, school districts across the state are working to determine how many teachers plan to walk out of class.
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, educators say it did not restore education funding, which has been dwindling in the past several years.
After the measure was signed into law, many were wondering if the walkout would still occur since all of OEA’s demands were not met.
On Friday, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent Bret Towne said that his district will be closed on Monday for the walkout.
“While some teachers are pleased with the legislation, others believe that lawmakers need to invest more in classrooms and, therefore, plan to walk out on Monday, April 2. The results of an Edmond Schools teacher poll that concluded this morning show that 66% of Edmond teachers plan to walkout Monday, April 2 and beyond. Therefore, Edmond Schools will be closed Monday and possibly beyond,” a note from Towne to parents read.
Towne says that Edmond can miss six days without having to make up any instruction. If the walkout lasts longer than six days, missed instruction will be made up by adding additional days at the end of the current school calendar.
Mid-Del Public Schools conducted its own survey of teachers and found that 93% of those surveyed still wanted to participate in the walkout on Monday. Also, administrators say 83% felt the walkout should last beyond Monday.
In a note from Dr. Rick Cobb, Mid-Del teachers provided a few reasons why they are walking out of class.
"This is not just about a pay raise. We need our students taken care of. I am worried about them going hungry but I am also worried about their futures. We cannot continue to let the legislature short change our kids," one teacher wrote.
"This is not about a raise for me. As both a teacher and parent in Mid-Del, I am more concerned with the complete disregard for education funding. I want my kids to get a better education," another wrote.