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Updated at 9:05 a.m. ET Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Trump's embattled nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn from consideration for the post amid allegations he had fostered a hostile work environment and behaved improperly while serving as the top doctor leading the White House medical unit. In a statement Thursday morning, Jackson said, "Going into this process, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have...

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All this week schools across Oklahoma were closed as public school teachers rallied at the state Capitol for better pay and more money for the classroom.

After 10 years of budget cuts and some of the lowest teacher wages in the nation, teachers say they've had enough.

Pay in Oklahoma has been so low, in fact, that districts often suffer from severe teacher shortages — many talented educators have left Oklahoma for better pay elsewhere. Some estimates put the number of teachers who have left near 2,000.

[UNFILTERED] /Elizabeth Sims

On Friday, April 6, Oklahoma legislators passed two more revenue bills in addition to the $447 revenue package they hoped would prevent a teacher walkout this week.

One requires third-party vendors on Amazon Marketplace to collect a sales tax. The other, the so-called "ball and dice" bill, changes rules for casinos to generate revenue. Both passed, although the ball and dice bill will not take effect immediately. They now head to Gov. Mary Fallin.

Oklahoma Teacher Pay Dispute: Factoring In Cost of Living

Apr 6, 2018
Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Teachers in about 70 Oklahoma school districts staged a week of walkouts over low pay and slender school budgets. A common talking point is that they are paid far less than teachers nationwide.

Lawmakers and the governor agreed that education spending should rise after many years of austerity, passing a tax increase to help cover a salary hike of about $6,100 a year.

But many teachers say they’re looking for a long-term commitment to both wages and school support.

AP Photo/Jens Meyer

Roughly one million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, fleeing violence and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. Germany accepted the great majority of asylum seekers— 890,000 according to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too?

Oklahoma’s state Capitol has been a madhouse all week. Teachers pack the rotunda early, and by 9 a.m. the chants are loud enough to echo through the tunnels underneath the building.

Update 4:22 p.m.

The state’s largest teachers union says the teacher walkout will continue next week despite the Senate passing two revenue-raising measures today. The Oklahoma Education Association also laid out new demands it says lawmakers must meet for teachers to return to the classroom.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

At 32.8 percent, Oklahoma has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation, But, scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation say their work could lead to new treatment options for the disease.

 

 

Mike Boettcher / Unfiltered

Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies reached out to the 11 declared gubernatorial candidates to ask them what they think about striking teachers’ demands and what more can be done to fund education and get teachers back in their classrooms. Responses came from the candidates or their representatives. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb’s campaign pointed to an April 2 Fox News interview in which he addressed the strike. Responses have been condensed.

DEMOCRATS:

Drew Edmondson

Oklahoma teachers continued to rally Wednesday at the state capitol, the third day of a planned teacher walkout. Educators filled the capitol to capacity, urging lawmakers to hear their demands for more education funding.

The Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, wants more money for the classroom and it identified legislation they think would achieve that. One is a bill allowing ball and dice games in casinos, another would repeal some capital gains exemptions.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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