Oklahoma teachers' walkout gains momentum in its 2nd week

Emboldened by support from across the country, Oklahoma teachers swarmed the state Capitol for a second week in their...

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 5:48 AM
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 5:48 AM

Emboldened by support from across the country, Oklahoma teachers swarmed the state Capitol for a second week in their unrelenting quest for more school funding.

And by some accounts, Monday's crowd was the biggest yet.

Hundreds of schools closed Monday as teachers demanded $150 million more to replace dilapidated, decades-old textbooks and fund elective courses. They also want higher raises for support staff and themselves.

Some teachers walked 15 miles Monday to get to Oklahoma City.

They bring the support and advice of West Virginia teachers, whose nine-day strike last month led to a 5% pay raise.

"When talking to West Virginia teachers, they told me the most important day of the walkout was the 2nd Monday," posted Alberto Morejon, the organizer of the "Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time is Now!" Facebook group.

Millions of dollars granted, millions more wanted

The teachers' massive protest has already yielded some action by legislators.

Shortly before the April 2 walkout, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that provided $50 million in funding for schools, increased teachers' salaries and gave pay raises to support staff. But the package wasn't nearly as much as educators demanded, so major school districts shuttered and the walkout ensued.

Now, two pieces of legislation could soon become law, getting a few steps closer to what teachers say they need:

1. The state Senate approved a bill amendment Friday that would require third-party retailers selling through outlets such as Amazon to collect sales tax from customers or inform them how much they owe in sales taxes. (The House approved the measure earlier in the week.) That bill could bring in about $20 million annually in education funding, but teachers say schools need a total of $200 million over three years.

2. The Senate on Friday approved a "ball and dice" tax for gambling. While Senate leaders said it will not add any income to this year's education funding, the Oklahoma Education Association said it would help in the long run.

But the OEA was livid about another Senate move: the repeal of a hotel and motel tax that it said would be paid by mostly nonresidents and would add millions in revenue.

The Senate followed the House's lead and repealed the tax as part of Bill 1010XX, thereby chopping $43 million from the education funding bill. Senators say they can make up that shortage through other revenue in the bill.

What will it take for this to end?

While thousands of students remain out of school indefinitely, OEA President Alicia Priest made clear what she thinks lawmakers must do to end the teacher walkout.

She said Fallin must veto the Legislature's repeal of the hotel-motel tax, and the Legislature must pass a bill ending the state's capital gains tax deduction.

Until then, don't expect teachers to end the walkout.

"I think it will continue ... until they see the fully funded education bills that need to be passed," said Kingsgate Elementary Principal Karie Hill, one of many administrators who joined teachers at the Capitol.

Kentucky teachers are furious, too

The Oklahoma protesters join teachers from Kentucky, Arizona and other states who have been fighting for more pay, better education funding and improved working conditions.

In Kentucky, teachers also protested the passage of a pension bill, which they called a "bait-and-switch" move.

That bill, which would affect new teachers, is at Gov. Matt Bevin's desk. Supporters of the bill said the changes are necessary to save the state's pension systems.

CNNMoney: How states are changing teacher pension plans

While Kentucky teachers were protesting the pension overhaul last week, the state Legislature passed changes to the tax system called House Bill 366.

An analysis of that bill by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found it would bring a huge tax cut for the richest 1% of residents, while the biggest tax increase would affect those making less than $21,000 a year. A fellow with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy described it as "a tax cut for Kentucky's richest people paired with a tax increase for the middle class and the poor."

Bevin has until legislators return to session April 13 to sign the bill.

Until then, the Kentucky Educators Association has urged its members to return to their classrooms.

"Our students need us to show up for them in classrooms and schools," the group posted on Facebook over the weekend. "We urge educators statewide not to allow our united efforts to be compromised by continued calls for action that deprive students, parents and communities of the educational services we provide."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319511

Reported Deaths: 7368
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22267267
Hinds20657421
Harrison18401317
Rankin13868282
Jackson13681248
Madison10239224
Lee10052176
Jones8458167
Forrest7824153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6501150
Lamar634088
Lafayette6303121
Washington5419136
Bolivar4836133
Panola4665110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4600147
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425073
Union415677
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386487
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3368111
Alcorn324272
Scott319774
Yazoo314171
Adams305886
Itawamba305078
Copiah299666
Coahoma298484
Simpson298189
Tippah291868
Prentiss283661
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231268
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187754
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry126738
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman81916
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69432
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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The relative lack of humidity has been a welcome change from the summertime stuffiness we’ve had lately. That lack of humidity will once again ensure that temperatures get down into the mid 60s for early morning Thursday. While Friday morning will remain comfortable as well, rain chances ratchet up as a tropical system approaches this weekend.
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