OK Senate passes education funding bill

Adjust Comment Print

"What yesterday looked like a positive step forward and a historic down payment on our children's future now hangs in the balance as the legislature dismantles the funding needed to solve this crisis they created in the first place", OEA President Alicia Priest said in a provided statement. "If teachers walkout, you have the opportunity to create hardship for the very students that they work so hard to serve every day so I'm concerned about that and hope they could find a way to express their position without doing that". Now, teachers in Arizona thronged their GOP-run Capitol this week, demanding a 20 percent teacher pay hike.

This pay raise propels Oklahoma to second in the region for average teacher pay. Only South Dakota and MS are lower.

A package of tax hikes to generate hundreds of millions of new dollars for teacher pay and avert statewide school closures is set to be voted on in the Oklahoma Senate.

The Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union that represents almost 40,000 members and school personnel, called the passage of the bill "a truly historic moment", but one that remains "incomplete", according to its president, Alicia Priest.

Oklahoma has a steep hurdle for tax increases, requiring three-fourths of lawmakers to approve.

"I support the kids - I want them to have a great education with great teachers, what ever that takes", Hale said, "We want to make sure they get fed physically and in the education department as well", Hale said. It includes increasing the state's oil and gas production tax to 5 percent, $1.00 tax increase on cigarettes, 6 cent increase on diesel and 3 cent increase on gasoline. "We don't have a hard count on what we know we can deliver". "Stunts like these are why Oklahomans lack any trust or confidence in the state legislature".

That's the question Oklahoma educators are faced with after Gov. Mary Fallin signed bills into law Thursday that will give teachers at least a 15-percent raise next school year.

At one of the city's busiest intersections, 6th and Western, roughly 40 Stillwater public schools teachers and students waved signs as passing motorists tapped their vehicle and truck horns in seeming approval.

The bill was approved by Oklahoma's House on Monday. It's not flawless and more is needed, but it is the best we are going to get right now.

Brown said her school district has been a leader in advocating for higher teacher pay and was one of the earliest supporters of a teacher walkout. That said, I think they've won a hard-fought victory.