Why teachers are walking out of the classroom
Teachers in Oklahoma are planning to walk out of the classroom next week to demand a salary increase, part of a wave of teacher activism across the country from Arizona to West Virginia.
Why this matters: Teachers are protesting for pay raises and better benefits. In most states their salaries haven't kept pace with inflation.
The teachers in Oklahoma, who are planning to walk out on April 2 if no agreement is reached with the state, are following teachers in West Virginia who walked out of the classroom for nine days before finally getting state legislators to authorize a pay raise. Teachers in Denver and Arizona have also discussed walking out of the classroom for better funding and pay raises. Teachers in Kentucky had a sick-out on March 30.
- Since 2008, Oklahoma has reduced its funding per student by 28.2%, per a report from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and about 20% of the schools in the state can only have classes four days a week.
- Oklahoma teachers want a raise of $6,000 the first year to reach cost of living rates in Oklahoma and another $4,000 over the next two years, plus $200 million into the school system's operation funds over three years as well as better medical care for students with health difficulties.
- Teachers in Oklahoma haven't seen salary increases since 2008. Oklahoma legislators raised taxes on Wednesday night for the first time in 28 years to give teachers $447 million for raises. However, teachers say that isn't good enough.