Oklahoma teachers threaten statewide walkout - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Oklahoma teachers threaten statewide walkout

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ARDMORE, Okla. -- Oklahoma teachers are preparing to walk out of their classrooms if state lawmakers don't act quickly to boost their wages.

The Oklahoma Education Association said 80 percent of people who responded to an unscientific online survey voiced support for a statewide teacher walkout on April 23 to take their case to the state capitol.

It's been a decade since Sooner State educators saw a bump in their paychecks. The OEA is calling for a $10,000 pay hike for educators, a $5,000 raise for education support professionals, and a restoration of public education funding.

"There's got to be a solution to this issue," said one teacher. "I mean, 10 years? Really? That's the problem."

Many teachers view walking out of their classrooms as a last resort, but the tactic appears to have worked in West Virginia, where lawmakers caved in to demands for a five percent salary hike in the wake of a nine-day walkout.

"I hope that we don't walk... for the kids' sake," an Oklahoma teacher told us.

If lawmakers don't act to boost salaries by April 23, some teachers won't let the door hit them on their way out. But others are concerned about what might happen to their students.

"I'm torn on the fact that I'm a teacher; my job is to help the kids," a teacher said. "The time frame they're looking at is right around state testing."

The OEA said a statewide school shutdown plan will be discussed at a news conference in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

Schools like Mannsville are waiting to hear that plan before they decide whether or not they will stay open.

Ardmore City Schools Superintendent Kim Holland expressed his position in a letter to teachers.

It is disrespectful to ignore the needs of teachers and students. It is also disrespectful to ignore the hundreds of support staff like our bus drivers, maintenance, and cafeteria workers, and to only discuss one aspect of our schools. 

Career schools are also concerned about the proposed walkout. Southern Tech Superintendent Dr. David Powell said absences from students in closed high schools would not be excused.

"Our high school students will be expected to come here," he said. "They've got to figure out a way to get to that bus stop at their local school"

So far, Marietta is the only district we have heard might close at the April 23 deadline. We reached out to them but didn't hear back.

KTEN understands, however, that other districts might follow as the deadline approaches. 

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