by Joseph Hancock, Editor
On the heels of the recent victory of the heroic teachers in West Virginia, and the momentum of the movement against gun violence which has united teachers and students nationally in a fresh movement for quality public education, Oklahoma teachers will be walking out on strike April 2 because, despite the historic down payment made by lawmakers this week, politicians have already gone back on their promises and have begun dismantling the funding. The current salary for teachers in Oklahoma is one of the lowest in the nation with a starting salary of Beginning Teacher Salary: $31,919. Teachers have not had a raise in ten years and are asking for a raise of $10,000. The state has offered only a $6,000 increase which does not keep up with living expenses. Oklahomans from all political stripes and from every corner of this state don’t trust their own legislators to fix the problems facing our students. Political stunts like these and years of irresponsible budgeting and broken promises got oil rich state into this crisis. Lawmakers must begin restoring trust with teachers and students by keeping their word. They can end this strike immediately teachers can get back to their classrooms and their students if the Legislature does the following:
- Fix House Bill 1010xx
Lawmakers must replace the $50 million hole created by the repeal of the hotel/motel tax.
- Pass the “ball and dice” legislation
Right now, $22 million in revenue is being held hostage in the senate. Passage of HB1013xx is a crucial piece of the historic down payment the legislature promised.
- Pass additional revenue to restore the cuts to Oklahoma classrooms.
Lawmakers have left significant funding on the table — funding that has bipartisan support but is being held up for political reasons. They could pass that revenue today to lower class sizes, invest more in our support professionals and restore classes like art, music and AP courses.
CNN has reported that teachers are working as many as six different jobs to earn a living. “Teacher morale gets worse every year,” said Craig Troxell, who also drives a school bus before and after school. “I’ve heard a lot of my (teacher) acquaintances walk away and get a different job. They don’t want to do it anymore.” Troxell has been teaching algebra for 13 years. To supplement his income, he also works part time as a school bus driver, drives for car services Lyft and Uber, mows lawns and does landscaping to earn enough money.
There is plenty of money in Oklahoma for education. Oklahoma is an oil and gas rich state, home to some of the largest oil corporations in the world. The demand must be made, as it was in West Virginia to shift energy company profits to pay for public education.
In March 2018 at the world congress of the WORLD FEDERATION OF TEACHERS UNIONS – FISE Delegates from around the world voiced their unanimous solidarity with striking teacher unions in West Virginia (see FISE WEBSITE: FISE)
and the then looming Oklahoma strike. Arizona was also cited. Delegate after delegate rose in solidarity and at the same time showed the crises in their countries in South America, Mexico, Africa, and Asia. Resolutions and letters of support should be sent to: Alicia Priest, President firstname.lastname@example.org and David Duvall , Executive Director email@example.com Please send copies of support resolutions to FISE: firstname.lastname@example.org Federation Internationale Syndicale L’Enseignement