OKLAHOMA CITY – For years, teachers have been asking Oklahoma lawmakers to find a way to fund a pay raise for educators across the state.
Now, teachers across the state are coming together to send a message to lawmakers.
The Oklahoma Education Association announced that lawmakers have an April 1 deadline to fund a teacher pay raise and increase spending on public education before teachers walk out of their classrooms.
“We will not allow lawmakers to once again shortchange our students, our teachers and our support professionals. So today, we’re putting lawmakers on notice- they must work swiftly to follow the law and pass an education budget by April 1. If that budget doesn’t include a meaningful pay raise for teachers and support professionals, and additional funding to restore cuts to Oklahoma classrooms, OEA calls for statewide school closures beginning April 2,” OEA President Alicia Priest said in a Facebook video.
The group 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.
With the deadline less than two weeks away, lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement that would fund the pay raise and increase funding for education.
Now, a teacher who turned to panhandling to help raise money for school supplies is encouraging teachers to stick to their goals.
Teresa Danks, who created the ‘Begging for Education’ program, says teachers should not back down from fighting for what they feel is right and what is deserved.
“This has been a wildcat protest from the beginning; a protest begun by the teachers. Teachers across Oklahoma have demanded to be heard and demanded for the state to recognize the legitimacy of their concerns. Organizations like [Oklahoma Teachers United] and [Begging for Education,] like teachers throughout the state, have no fight with superintendents or the OEA, so long as they remain steadfast and focused on the demands of the statewide teacher protest.
If unions and superintendents try to take away the teacher’s power to independently unite, we become weakened under the control of the state leadership (unions, superintendents, and legislators). Our strength is our independence from the leadership and our unity as teachers, parents and students. West Virginia has us an important lesson, stay united as teachers. Do not become divided by politics or union affiliation,” the organization said in a statement. “All teachers should be prepared to reject solutions that do not meet our combined plea for school funding and fair wages.”