OKLAHOMA CITY – After thousands of Oklahoma teachers walked out of the classroom last year, an Oklahoma state representative has proposed a bill that would prohibit teachers from going on strike again.
Last March, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it was 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.
Days before the walkout was set to begin, 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.
Although the bill almost reached the salary goal, organizers said it did little to restore education funding that has been cut for nearly a decade.
For nine days, thousands of educators and supporters headed to the Capitol to demand an increase to education funding. The walkout came to a sudden end at the end of two weeks.
Now, Oklahoma Rep. Todd Russ has proposed a bill that would prevent teachers from walking out of the classroom.
House Bill 2214 would make it illegal for “the board of education or school district employees…to strike or threaten to strike or otherwise close schools or interfere with school operations as a means of resolving differenced with the board of education, the State Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Legislature or any other public official or public body.”
If a person violated the law by engaging in a strike, they “shall be denied the full amount of his or her wages during the period of such violation.”
The bill goes on to say that if the person is certified by the State Board of Education, “such certificate shall be permanently revoked.”