'Our goal is to fund education': OEA outlines teacher strike demands

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest outlines teacher demands March 8 at the Oklahoma Capitol. (KTUL)

A large group of classroom teachers, support professionals and organizations joined the Oklahoma Education Association as they announced their demands they want to avoid a shutdown of state schools.

The OEA gave Oklahoma lawmakers until April 1 to pass legislation giving teachers a pay raise and restoring education funding. OEA President Alicia Priest outlined the demands that teachers would like to see by that date. asking lawmakers to give teachers a $10,000 raise and support staff a $5,000 raise. They would also like legislators to restore $200 million to public school funding which has been cut from the budget since 2008.

"We are all in this together. We share the same goal. We want the Legislature to make good on the broken promises of the past and finally invest in the future," Priest said.

The group would also like to see $213 million for state employee pay raises over three years and $255.9 million in health care funding over the next two years.

"Our goal is to fund education. Our goal is not to shut down schools," Priest said.

Oklahoma teachers, such as 23-year teacher Kim Morris from Mannford, spoke during the event.

"I want to be there for them every single day. I live to get up and go to school for their hugs and their smiles and their ah-ha moments. But I can't do this anymore," Priest said.

Stillwater teacher Alberto Morejon founded the Facebook page "Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time is Now" which now has over 60,000 members.

"Last time I checked, no one in this room would go to a doctor, a lawyer or even a plumber with an emergency certification," Morejon said. "This is only the beginning of an incredible movement. The time is now."

While speaking with the media, Priest stated that schools would remain closed until their demands are met.

The OEA has planned a 'teletown hall' for 7 p.m. Thursday for everyone to learn more about the list of demands. You can dial in at (877) 229-8493. The pin number you'll need is 115828.

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