Oklahoma Education Association: 95 percent of requested funding is secured & recurring

Oklahoma teachers pack the Capitol rotunda April 11 during the teacher walkout. (KOKH/Steven Anderson)

The state teachers union says 95 percent of the education funding they've asked for is secured and recurring.

According to the Oklahoma Education Association, they originally asked lawmakers for $506 million for teacher pay raises, support staff pay raises and school funding. Eight days into a statewide teacher walkout, OEA says $479 million is secured, which includes one-time pay raises for teachers and support staff and $92 million for school funding spread over two years.

As teachers and education supporters gather at the Oklahoma Capitol for the eighth day of the walkout, the OEA is asking for members to lobby Gov. Mary Fallin and members of the House of Representatives against the following items:

  • SB 1398 and SJR 70
  • HB 1044xx
  • HB 1046xx

The OEA says that SB 1398 and SJR70 would put the burden on local communities for building and operating funds. HB 1044xx would use the Commissioners of the Land Office fund to pay $500 per classroom. The OEA says that each classroom would only get $45. HB1046xx would consolidate superintendents in counties with less than 400,000 people. The OEA says this eliminates local control and wouldn't save much money in the long run.

In the meantime, advocacy groups, like the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, say frustration is building among parents across the state.

"We're hearing more and more anecdotes about parents who are having to stay home losing their jobs because of the teacher walkout. And that's scary for a lot of families," said Vice President of Advocacy Dave Bond.

OEA Vice President Katherine Bishop says members are aware of parents frustrations.

"We hear you," said Bishop. "Our goal in the very beginning was not to have a teacher walkout. Our goal was for the legislature to do their job and invest in our children's future."

OEA leaders are working with legislators around the clock to reach a resolution.

Teachers say they'll be at the Capitol until one is reached.

"It's going to be another decade before there's anything like this, so now is the change to get the funding, get the textbooks, to bring down the class sizes, everything. Look at the long run," said James Hall, a teacher a Coyle High School.

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