Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tulsa World editorial: Oklahoma can avoid a statewide teachers' strike, but not if the Legislature keeps screwing around

Legislature must get serious about pay raises for Oklahoma teachers

Oklahoma has been hemorrhaging teachers to neighboring states which pay much more. Something's gonna blow. I went to an event where one of the main players, teacher Larry Cagle, a Republican I believe, spoke on the phone in depth about what is going on there. You can hear him and West Virginia teachers at:

Tulsa World editorial: Oklahoma can avoid a statewide teachers' strike, but not if the Legislature keeps screwing around

Immediately above this editorial is a note about a coming crisis, a completely avoidable statewide teachers’ strike.

We have 14 days — two weeks — until thousands of Oklahoma teachers will walk away from their jobs, bringing children’s educations to a halt and creating havoc for Oklahoma families from border to border.

It doesn’t have to happen; but unfortunately, a solution relies on the Oklahoma legislators, who are best at doing nothing or, alternatively, doing next to nothing and claiming they’re hard at work.

Teachers have gone without a state-funded pay raise for nearly a decade. The Oklahoma Education Association, the dominant teacher organization in the state, is demanding a $10,000 teachers’ raise over three years; $5,000 raises for support personnel; solid funding for education programs and a sustainable, rational revenue plan to pay for it.

It’s a reasonable demand, but instead of working to meet it, the Legislature is fiddling around the edges.
Last week, the state Senate proposed a raise package that fell well short of the teachers’ position. It included no money for support personnel and nothing for classroom funding. A revenue package to pay for it fell two votes short of the supermajority needed for passage.

Then Speaker of the House Charles McCall rolled out an even less acceptable plan: Incremental increases over six years, starting with about $2,000 next year. The McCall plan included no specifics on how it would be funded.

Both plans should be scrapped and legislative leaders need to get to work on a real effort to fund education adequately.

A statewide teachers’ strike would be bad for children, teachers and the state. If lawmakers continue playing political games and teachers end up walking out on April 2, there will be no doubt about who will be at fault: Oklahoma’s political leaders who lack the courage to fund public schools adequately.

Call your legislators and insist that they fund education and stop playing political games as the crisis nears.

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