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School board advocates for teacher walkout

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Teachers meet to discuss looming strike.

Teachers meet to discuss looming strike.

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Teachers meet to discuss looming strike.

Natalia Mora, Memorial Staff Writer

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As the district collectively endeavors to improve teacher salaries, an ally has risen to the aid of Oklahoma teachers. On Monday Mar. 12, the Edmond Board of Education held a special emergency meeting in which they voiced a legal resolution officially supporting the teacher walkout, garnering praise from Edmond stakeholders.

Preceding the resolution, the superintendent’s office had received over 900 calls concerning the teacher walkout with only 14 of these calls expressing disapproval. Additionally, superintendent of Edmond Public Schools Bret Towne personally received 200 emails pressing for reform.

“We have many Edmond legislators who have voted for plans that would increase teacher pay only to have the votes fall short of the 75% approval threshold required by State Question 640,” Towne said. “You have to remember that nearly all of our Edmond legislators are on record in support of a teacher pay raise.”

Edmond teachers are pushing for a $10,000 pay raise from legislators before coming back to school, a demand which will trigger the walkout if needs are not met before their deadline on Apr. 1st. The initiative, overwhelmingly reinforced by teachers, parents and third-parties alike, seeks competitive funding in state education and proves a looming threat for legislators.

“Our goals remain the same: to force the legislature to pass a plan that provides teachers and support professionals a significant pay raise, and restores critical funding to our classrooms,” Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) President Alicia Priest said. “We will not allow lawmakers, once again, to shortchange our students, our teachers and our support professionals.”

Edmond schools are required by state legislature to serve 1,080 hours (voluntarily as an hour-based district), meaning the administration banked six instructional days which can be walked out on, free of penalty. Once the Apr. 1 pay raise deadline has passed, the walkout will land on Apr. 2, which presents the district with concerns that do not stray from the state’s eye.

If the launch is observed as scheduled, the walkout will overlap with Oklahoma’s first day of legally-mandated testing procedure, provoking a federal violation if tests of extreme prevalence, such as the free ACT for juniors and state-mandated K-12 testing, fail to be distributed. Towne hopes to resolve this issue by postponing testing schedules accordingly.

Other adjustments include the continuation of extracurricular activities, athletics, career tech programs, free and reduced lunch for students and compensation for support staff. Teachers will not face any form of district-mandated repercussions for participating.

The administration hopes to hold a poll to determine how many teachers will participate in the walkout. An official statement addressing whether school will officially be cancelled is dependent on whether the 300 active substitutes in the district can fill in for teacher absence.

After a decade of its legislature overlooking pleas for teacher raise, the administration’s cry for adequate pay is reinforced by more support than it’s ever had before. This emergency resolution will inevitably make a large impact in advocacy for Oklahoman teacher efforts to be met justifiably by their compensation.

 

Contact Natalia Mora at [email protected]

 

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School board advocates for teacher walkout