After striking for nine school days, teachers in West Virginia received a 5 percent pay raise Tuesday. Now, it looks like Oklahoma educators will take a similar tack in the hopes of getting their own pay raise.
A firm date for the beginning of Oklahoma’s own teachers’ walkout emerged after some back-and-forth between union leaders and school employees. As Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told the Tulsa World on Wednesday, her union demands not only increases in pay for teachers and support personnel but also an increase in overall funding for common education by April 1.
If lawmakers fail to act by April Fool’s Day, well, the joke’s on them: Priest told the World that teachers and staff would leave their classrooms and offices on April 2 to descend upon the State Capitol in protest.
A video posted early Wednesday afternoon on Facebook had garnered more than 167,000 views in only a few hours. In it, Priest further clarified her organization’s intentions:
From the video:
Today, we’re putting lawmakers on notice. They must work swiftly to follow the law and pass an education budget by April 1. If that budget does not include a pay raise for teachers and support professionals and additional funding to restore cuts to Oklahoma classrooms, OEA calls for statewide school closures beginning April 2. We will be at the Capitol until a solution is passed and signed by the governor.
A handy-dandy countdown to a teacher walkout
Although the old saying goes that a watched pot never cooks, NonDoc has a feeling we’ll be hearing the kettle whistle sooner than later with regard to a teacher walkout. As such, we’re providing the following countdown clock to assist us (and you) in keeping up with exactly how long lawmakers will have before the timer dings on #OklaEd patience.
Make sure to bookmark this page for easy future reference and share with your friends, lawmakers and other interested parties so they can keep an eye on the deadline.
Some context for the OEA’s actions
The walkout tactic has precedence, as Oklahoma’s educators collectively protested low pay and other grievances in 1990. Still, the heat surrounding the current crisis in education funding — in which revenue bills have failed multiple times, outside groups have sought to right the state’s sinking ship, and multiple demonstrations have flooded the Capitol rotunda since 2016 — has reached a boiling point.
Here’s a list of recent pieces we’ve posted to help bring newcomers up to speed: