Oklahoma City schools release teacher walkout plan after pay raise measure passes

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Many GOP-led states are feeling the pushback after years of tax cuts that have slashed funding for core government services such as public schools, said Lily Garcia, president of the teachers union NEA, .

After weeks of work to come up with legislation to fund teacher pay raises - and just five days out from a planned statewide teacher walkout - the Oklahoma Senate has voted to approve a sweeping tax hike bill to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into education.

She added: "The goal of Oklahoma educators has always been to avoid a walk out, because lawmakers continue breaking promises, even promises made less than 24 hours ago, we call on schools to remain closed on Monday so educators can send a clear message at the Capitol: Oklahoma educators won't stand for these games any longer".

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In Oklahoma, the tax hikes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production will be enough for raises averaging about $6,100 annually, as well as funding boosts for schools, support personnel and state workers. "Stunts like these are why Oklahomans lack any trust or confidence in the state legislature".

While some Oklahoma school administrators and board members are giddy over the infusion of new cash, many rank-and-file teachers are demanding that all of their needs are met before they agree to stop a walkout. Passing the largest teacher pay raise in state history moves us to No. 2 in the region in average teacher pay and will help Oklahoma retain quality teachers.

"While this is major progress, this investment alone will not undo a decade of neglect", Priest said.

"This package doesn't overcome shortfall caused by four-day weeks and overcrowded classrooms that deprive kids of the one-on-one attention they need". OEA president Alicia Priest said it was "a good first step", but signaled that it won't be enough to avert a strike.

"We asked for $10,000 over three years". She heard from students about how their schools are preparing for the teacher strike.

In Arizona, thousands of teachers and supporters wearing red swarmed the state Capitol on Wednesday, calling for higher pay and better education funding under what they called #REDforED. "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". "Our school communities are desperate for change because we know what's at stake here - the futures of our students and this great state".

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