Oklahoma Lawmaker: Teacher, State Employee Walkouts "Akin to Extortion"

Mar 13, 2018

Cache High School students got their representative’s thoughts on planned teacher walkouts during a visit to the capitol.

Rep. Jeff Coody said the $10,000 raise for teachers and raises for state employees that educators are demanding will cost roughly one-third of what the legislature appropriates each year, so he has an unfavorable view of their planned April 2 walkouts.

"Honestly, it’s akin to extortion. It’s probably not doable, and you all are going to suffer as a result of it," Coody told the students Monday.

Coody said students’ preparation for standardized testing will be interrupted. Students shot back they’re already suffering because underfunded schools have made their classes too big and cut offerings like Advanced Placement courses.

The Comanche County lawmaker said he wants to give teachers a raise but claimed if the legislature turns to tax increases to pay for it, that will effectively wipe out half of it.

"So, my attitude is there’s got to be some other ways that we can come up with a teacher pay raise," Coody said.

Coody favors tapping the $2.4 billion trust under the Commissioners of the Land Office.

Students responded by telling Coody education funding should be the most important issue before the legislature.

"And the fact that you’re telling me that’s not a priority just kind of—" one student started to say.

"Did I say that was not a priority?" Coody said.

"That’s how you’re coming across," the student said.

"OK."

"And we’re all going to be 18 very soon," the student said. "A lot of people are in this room. We’re all going to be 18 by the time this voting rolls around, and I think it’s kind of — you need to really take that into consideration."