Teachers plan strike for pay



Teachers gather during a rally to support the Step Up Oklahoma Plan at the state capitol in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Hannah Prentice, Memorial Staff Writer

In early 2018, the citizens of Oklahoma voted to decide if they would suffer an increase in taxes to raise teacher pay statewide and decided they were not willing to sacrifice their taxes for teachers. Now, here we are months later on March 28, facing a teacher walkout.

Monday night of this week, the state legislators voted on a house bill that would raise teacher pay by an average of $6,000 depending on the education level and years of experience per educator along with addressing multiple issues in the demands of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), however the bill was shot down and revised when sent to the state Senate and now has been sent back to the state House of Representatives for them to approve the changes made. For the issue to finally pass and possibly be resolved, both the state Senate and House of Representatives must pass the house bill which will then be sent to the Governor who must also sign off on the plan for it to be officially be made law.

However, there are many issues keeping this goal from being accomplished in order to prevent the teacher strike from occurring, one of which is the lack of assurance that OEA’s concerns are fully being addressed. Within their concerns, the OEA called for a $10,000 raise spread out over a three-year plan, with $6,000 of that coming August 2018 and subsequently $2,000 each year for two more years. The problem is the current house bill states that teachers will receive an average of $6,000, which is what they are asking for, but there is no mention of any plan for the following years. Without a set extended plan stated in the House bill, there is no true way of guaranteeing that state legislators will continue these efforts into later years.

The teachers of Oklahoma have not received a raise in approximately a decade, and for some, that means they are now becoming increasingly unable to pay for things like prescriptions, doctors visits, insurance, or gas. Those who can actually afford those things usually can due to working other jobs.

Although the House bill is a step in the right direction, it is not the solution most teachers are wanting and needing. The people of Oklahoma are anxiously waiting in anticipation for the results of the teacher strike.

Contact Hannah Prentice at [email protected]