Oklahoma Education Association Says $10,000 Teacher Raise Needed to Avert Walkout

Mar 8, 2018

Educators speak at OEA news conference
Credit Facebook

The Oklahoma Education Association said Thursday it will take a $10,000 raise over the next three years —with $6,000 coming this year — to avoid a statewide teacher walkout on April 2.

The group is also calling for $5,00 raises for support professionals and $200 million in restored common education funding over three years, state employee raises and increased health care funding.

OEA President Alicia Priest said teachers are trying to push lawmakers to act.

"Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And we are going to give them the will to do that," Priest said. "Schools will stay closed until we get what we are asking for, yes."

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the State Department of Education will keep pushing for a $5,000 teacher raise and individual districts will decide how they respond to a walkout, but teachers’ support may stop there.

"While we empathize with the need for a teacher pay increase, we don’t want the kids hurt. Is there any action by this board that can deter a walkout?" said State Board of Education member Bill Price.

If schools don’t meet their 1,080 hours or 180 days of instruction required by law, state aid will be withheld.

Lawmakers need to come up with 366 million in new revenue this year for the $6,000 first phase of a $10,000 teacher pay raise and $812 million if they’re going to cover the other spending OEA is calling for.

Senate President Mike Schulz said a $5,000 teacher raise might be attainable over the course of the next year.

"I think $5,000 is attainable over the course of the next year, but $10,000 is something — if they’re expecting that in one year or two years, I think that’s unachievable," Schulz said.

OEA is not advocating any specific revenue plans for the package of raises and increased funding, saying lawmakers have come up with plenty of ideas over the course of two special sessions.