Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Oklahoma teacher strike to extend a 7th day

Oklahoma teacher strike to extend a 7th day

Oklahoma teachers carried their walkout over school funding and higher pay into a ninth day on Tuesday as a union leader declared that educators had the advantage of momentum in a battle with the Republican-dominated state legislature.

"We need lawmakers to make a long-term investment in our children's future", the Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teachers union with about 40,000 members, said on Monday.

They also want lawmakers to implement a hotel tax that would bring in an estimated $50 million. Arizona and Kentucky teachers have voiced their frustrations regarding teachers' salary and education underfunding.

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled legislature said it may be hard to find more money after approving almost $450 million in new taxes and other revenues since the walkout began on April 2 to help fund pay raises for teachers and boost spending.

The new taxes and revenue approved by lawmakers translate into an average teacher pay raise of about $6,100.

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Teachers are seeking a $10,000 raise over three years.

Norman teacher Jordan Nguyen pets Milo, a therapy dog who is a staple in her music classroom in Norman, Okla., as protests continue over school funding, April 9, 2018, in Oklahoma City.

A major cause of budget strain comes from tax breaks Oklahoma granted to its energy industry, which were worth $470 million in fiscal-year 2015 alone. Instead of diverting money to education funding, the state cut income taxes and severance tax rates on oil and gas.

Still, teachers are hopeful their efforts will create change.

One group of teacher walked the 100 miles from Tulsa to the capitol in Oklahoma City, to draw attention to their plight.

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