Bill would make teacher strikes illegal in Oklahoma - - Texoma news, weather and sports

Bill would make teacher strikes illegal in Oklahoma

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Teachers protested at the Oklahoma Capitol for higher wages. (KFOR) Teachers protested at the Oklahoma Capitol for higher wages. (KFOR)

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Teachers across Oklahoma left their classrooms and marched on the State Capitol last year, demanding higher pay and more classroom resources.

Now legislation has been introduced in the Oklahoma House of Representatives that would make it illegal for teachers to walk off the job.

House Bill 2214 was introduced by state Rep. Todd Russ (R-District 55), whose wife is a public school teacher. The bill contains the following language:

"It shall be 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 differences 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."

In addition, any educator who participates in a strike or walkout would have their wages withheld and would have their teaching license revoked.

Durant High School science educator Jon Hazell, the 2017 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year, defended his right to walk out.

"I think we don't only have a right to do that... we have a responsibility to do that," he said. "Anybody ... that would try to pass a bill to squash that maybe doesn't even understand the way government is supposed to work."

The proposal received mixed reviews on KTEN's Facebook page.

"Teachers have the right to freedom of speech and protest. To protect themselves and their students," wrote Shawn Terry. "They have the greatest duty to express their rights when they see a problem."

But in Sandra Banks' view, teacher walkouts "should be illegal."

Last year, Rep. Russ voted in favor of tax hikes that provided an average $6,100 annual pay increase for Oklahoma teachers.

KTEN reporter Shereen Hashem in Durant contributed to this report.

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