Oklahoma’s teachers union says it will release a plan this week for a statewide strike in an effort to force a pay raise.
David Royse | LedeTree
As Oklahoma teachers watch their counterparts in West Virginia, who appeared Tuesday to be closing in on an agreement for a 5 percent pay increase after a nearly two week statewide teacher strike, they, too were considering a similar action in a state where teacher salaries are among the lowest in the nation.
The Oklahoma Education Association said Monday that it had done an online survey of teachers there and nearly 80 percent supported a strike that would force schools to close, a move intended to force a pay raise.
“The survey results showed overwhelming support for a statewide shutdown of schools from more than 10,000 educators, parents, students and community members,” Alicia Priest, the OEA President and a Spanish teacher from Yukon, said in a statement put out by the organization.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education adopted a resolution on Tuesday pledging it is “in full support of our teachers and stands ready to take any steps necessary to improve conditions for our teachers – including a districtwide suspension of classes.
“The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education urges the Oklahoma State Legislature to work urgently on behalf of the children and families in our state to take swift and meaningful action to develop a viable plan to pay teachers the professional salaries they deserve,” the board said in the resolution.
Oklahoma City is in. “The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education is in full support of our teachers and stands ready to take any steps necessary to improve conditions for our teachers – including a districtwide suspension of classes.” https://t.co/AQDoDs8RvZ
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) March 6, 2018
The board in Tulsa also signaled support for the teachers, giving them the apparent backing of the state’s two large city districts. With backing of boards, a broad shutdown of Sooner State schools appeared increasingly likely.
A Monday resolution from the Tulsa board said “the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education on behalf of our students and families cannot allow this crisis to continue through another legislative session,” according to the Tulsa World.
A bill that would allow local districts to increase teacher pay is awaiting a hearing on the House floor, but bills that matched what the teachers union had hoped for failed to advance by a March 1 deadline to get through committees.
The union is backing a $10,000 pay raise to Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise to support professionals over three years, and a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees, among other changes.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallon has generally supported higher teacher pay, but she told the Los Angeles Times that she hoped that if they planned to protest they’d do so over spring break rather than staging a walkout.