Oklahoma teachers hold second day of walk-out protests

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More than 90% of USA families rely on the country's public schools, but state funding for those schools fell dramatically after the 2008 recession, when property taxes plummeted with real estate values. There aren't enough supplies, and textbooks are falling apart.

The state's other major union, the Oklahoma Education Association, says it has 40,000 members including many different kinds of school employees like bus drivers, retired teachers and education majors at Oklahoma colleges and universities. The momentum at the Capitol on Tuesday suggested teachers were game for a prolonged walkout until lawmakers passed a package they would accept.

Oklahoma and Kentucky are the second and third states where teachers have staged strikes and walkouts to lean on state legislatures to increase funding and fund pay raises.

Over the past several years, budget cuts have negatively impacted numerous state agencies, including the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The regional average was $48,450. Teachers represented by Cagle's group want a $10,000 raise. For example, certified teachers with 25 years experience could see their pay increase by almost $8,000 to top out at $51,232, according to a budget analysis. Consumers will pay $1 more per pack of cigarettes.

In addition to the raises, lawmakers have already passed next year's education budget, which increased education spending to $2.9 billion - a almost 20 percent increase from current levels.

In Oklahoma, teachers like Cagle have stepped up, discontent with union leadership.

"I've been teaching 19 years and class sizes have gotten bigger over the years".

But Priest said teachers reject the argument that there isn't enough money to provide additional funds for classrooms. About 20 percent of Oklahoma's school districts have moved to a four-day week to save costs.

She said the state's largest industries - like wind - should be paying their fair share just like oil.

Marcher hit by police vehicle while protesting shooting of Stephon Clark
Protesters and officers also had a brief standoff near a highway ramp, before protesters changed direction. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones blamed "paid protesters" for causing the chaos during the rally.

"Sometimes, my teachers have to bring their own papers", said Paige Zetterberg, a fifth grade student. "We're hopeful. We're very hopeful". She's attending the rally in the capitol with many of her colleagues. "I feel like they're choosing oil and gas over education", one public school teacher told Tulsa World.

Thousands of Arizona teachers also rallied in March in front of the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix.

The numbers may be smaller in the second day event as teachers from smaller, rural districts may not be able to take part. She carried a sign that read "Teachers made your job possible".

Budget negotiators unveiled a spending plan Monday that includes increased spending for the main funding formula for K-12 schools to be paid for by a 6 percent sales tax on a host of services that had previously been tax-free. The shortage is so deep that one teacher dared lawmakers to fire striking workers, arguing they would teach in Texas, which would essentially make the shortage worse. "They're broken, and they literally hurt the kids to sit down. They're here for our future".

Overall, funding for public education has started to rebound in recent years, as real estate prices went back up.

He said the state budget process is "antiquated" and also in need of reform.

"It's going to take massive people power to (get) anything done", the former public school teacher said.

"I'm just so disheartened with it".

Because Kentucky teachers aren't eligible to receive Social Security benefits, new teachers' cash-balance plans would receive elevated contributions from the state and local school districts under the plan.

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