Legislature approves raises, but Oklahoma teachers still plan walkout next week

Protests Thursday by teachers

Many applauded the House and Senate for reaching the three-fourths majority requirement to increase taxes for the first time sine 1992 and State Question 640.

Several LeFlore County schools will be closed Monday, either as part of Easter break, the "walkout", snow days or a mixture of the three. Many Oklahoma teachers on Facebook have called for keeping schools shut down until all their demands are met.

"Basically, how are their babies going to eat while they're doing this walkout to stand up for them", McGavock said.

Governor Mary Fallin signed the $424 million tax plan Thursday evening. Kansas lawmakers had enough past year, voting to raise taxes over Gov. Sam Brownback's (R) veto, and on Wednesday night, Oklahoma lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that will generate $450 million in new revenue from a $1-a-pack surcharge on cigarettes, increasing the gas tax by 3 cents and 6 cent for diesel, and raising taxes on oil and gas production to 5 percent, from 2 percent. Consumers will pay $1 more per pack of cigarettes. It also created a new, $5 tax on hotel-motel stays. "Today, they started dismantling it by cutting millions out of the plan".

The fatal weakness of that struggle, however, was that rank-and-file teachers did not build up the necessary organizations, free from the control of the unions, to take the struggle forward and mobilize the broadest support in the working class to fight the gang-up of the two big-business parties and the powerful corporate interests behind them. "We're still asking for a complete package, including funding for years 2 and 3".

"We just have to use some other funding streams to be able to fill the $47 million that was expected from the hotel/motel tax", Treat said. Each teacher will get a raise of about $6000. The nonprofit professional organization has almost 12,000 members.

"Almost every week I go to the store and buy stuff out of my own pocket, so that we can have projects just like what you saw. the radish seeds".

The result.an average boost of about $6,100 bucks a year.

Coburn announced his support of an anti-tax group Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite.

Students support teachers
Students support teachers

Credit: Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time is Now! Teachers in the state haven't had a raise in a decade and have the lowest salary in the nation according to some estimates.

According to the National Education Association, the average salary of a teacher in Oklahoma ranks 49th among the USA states and District of Columbia with South Dakota and MS the only states reporting lower.

Aware of the deep opposition among teachers, Priest added, "I know you may be disappointed like me that the legislature left money on the table".

It's the largest teacher pay increase in Oklahoma history. Oklahoma teachers say it's not enough, however, and they still plan to strike next week. Teacher compensation is now the lowest in the region and among the lowest in the country, according to education groups.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said while it is "major progress", the investment alone won't undo a decade of neglect. The regional average was $48,450.

The Oklahoma Education Association is pressing the Oklahoma Legislature to do more to end a teacher walkout that is all but inevitable at this point - and none of it involves increasing teacher raises approved earlier this week. However, some will head to the Capitol on Monday to hand out water and snacks and thank lawmakers.

A $1,250 pay raise for school support personnel passed the House and Senate earlier this week and the legislation is now awaiting the governor's signature.

It wasn't immediately clear what impact the measure would have on Monday's threatened walkout.

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