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Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

When the Oklahoma Legislature passed HB 1010XX in March, it was the first time lawmakers had increased state taxes in 28 years. Both the House and the Senate applauded themselves.

The governor acted swiftly to sign the bill, and at first, it seemed like a reason for school leaders to celebrate. They had been begging lawmakers to increase teacher pay for years, and it finally happened.


The Oklahoma Judicial Center houses the state Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on a pair of lawsuits to stop an effort to repeal tax increases that helped pay for the historic teacher pay package.

At stake is whether Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite!, a group led by former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, can continue collecting signatures to ask voters to nullify the nearly $450 million revenue-raising bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

Blake Sonne, the lawyer representing Professional Oklahoma Educators, talks with reporters after presenting oral arguments before the State Supreme Court.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday over the legality of a petition to overturn new state taxes.

The petition, which is being circulated by an anti-tax group called Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite, seeks to overturn HB1010xx, a $430 million tax package lawmakers passed this year.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The end of the widespread teacher walkout doesn’t mean questions surrounding Oklahoma’s education funding are settled.

Voters will head to the polls this November to chose Oklahoma’s next governor and elect a large swath of the Legislature. But it’s a pair of proposed state questions, which may or may not ultimately appear on the ballot, that could decide if teachers lose recently approved raises or possibly receive further pay increases.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

After nine days of rallying at the state capitol, union leaders say the Oklahoma teacher walkout is over.

The president of the Oklahoma Education Association, Alicia Priest, said on Thursday that despite thousands of people calling on lawmakers to increase school funding, educators have seen no significant legislative movement since last Friday.

She said the union polled its members, and a majority doubted that continuing the walkout would result in more money for schools.

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.

Photos: These Are The Faces Of The Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

Apr 3, 2018
Megan Ross / Unfiltered

On the first day of the Oklahoma teacher walkout, more than 30,000 people demonstrated at the state capitol, including teachers, school staff, students, parents and state employees.  These are just a few of the teachers who participated in the walkout, as well as their supporters.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Boosting teacher pay by an average of $6,000—which the Legislature approved last week—wasn’t enough to put the brakes on a massive shut-down of schools to rally at the state Capitol. An estimated 30,000 people attended Monday’s rally, and many school districts are closed again Tuesday so the walkout can continue.

Teachers, parents and students at a March 2018 education rally in downtown Tulsa.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After months of gridlock and failed deal-making, the Oklahoma House and Senate have passed a nearly $450 million tax package designed to fund raises for teachers and avoid statewide school closures.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she’ll sign the tax package, which fell short of teachers’ demands. Educators still plan to march at the Capitol April 2 to pressure lawmakers to spend more on schools and public employees and continue a debate that has highlighted growing gaps and frustrations over taxes and government.

 

UPDATED: 11:14 p.m.

A revenue package that included several tax increases passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Monday night, the first time a tax increase has passed the House in 28 years.

It was a late night for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in an effort to avoid a teacher and public employee walkout next week. After several failed attempts over the last 17 months to find funding for a teacher pay raise, Democrats and Republicans struck a deal over the weekend.

Oklahoma state Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017.
Sue Ogracki / AP Photo

Teachers are preparing to walk out of the classroom starting April 2, and several legislators have proposed plans to avoid the work stoppage. One in particular, proposed by former teacher Sen. Michael Bergstrom, R-Adair, would raise pay for both teachers and state employees.

Oklahoma Watch

A threatened teacher walkout in early April casts a shadow over the legislative session and could disrupt the lives of parents, children, educators and many others should it go on for days or weeks.

State employees also are planning a multi-agency work stoppage on April 2, which would widen and deepen the impact.

David Longstreath / AP Photo

A successful teacher walkout in West Virginia has brought the topic of teacher pay to the forefront of public conversation. However, leaders at the Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, says the impending shutdown of Oklahoma schools has been the the works for some time. And it’s happened in Oklahoma before.


Interviews Show Teachers On A Collision Course With Unwavering Lawmakers

Mar 9, 2018
Jennifer Palmer / Oklahoma Watch

It became official Thursday: The largest, most organized voice for Oklahoma teachers issued an ultimatum to legislators that teachers will shut down much of Oklahoma’s public-school system indefinitely unless serious money is found to boost teacher pay and education funding.

Oklahoma teachers rallied in support of the Step Up Oklahoma plan on February 12, 2018. The plan would have provided $5,000 teacher pay raises, but failed in the House.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The state’s largest teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, says it will announce the details of a statewide teacher walkout on Thursday.

Alicia Priest, the president of the OEA, says years of failed attempts by the legislature to increase education funding and teacher pay have forced the organization to consider the walkout.

Storme Jones / KGOU

When Gov. Mary Fallin addressed lawmakers in her first State of the State speech in 2011, she implored them to fix a $600 million hole in the state budget. Seven years later, in her final State of the State address, the legislature is faced with a similar task: filling an estimated $425 million gap in the budget.

 

elementary school library
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

With the start of the 2018 legislative session eight days away, lawmakers have submitted a flurry of proposals related to education.

They range from the expected — proposed salary boosts and other financial compensation for teachers — to the unexpected, like bills to allow schools to sell and place ads on school buses and to permit students to apply their own sunscreen.

The intent of many other proposals is still unknown, as many education-related bills were submitted as “shell bills,” written with no substantive text and to be amended later.

Low Pay No. 1 Reason Oklahoma Teachers Quit, Survey Says

Jan 23, 2018
Oklahoma State Department of Education

The State Department of Education surveyed thousands of former teachers about why they left the profession, and what it would take to get them back. The survey results, released Monday, suggest most quit because of low pay.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A group led by a long-time energy industry leader wants Oklahoma voters to approve an increase in taxes on oil and gas production to help fund public education.

Currently, taxes on oil and gas production are discounted for the first three years making the effective tax rate somewhere around 3.2 percent. Mickey Thompson with Restore Oklahoma Now on Wednesday filed the paperwork for State Question 795 to increase that rate to 7 percent across-the-board.

Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister discusses school issues during her interview for KGOU's Capitol Insider.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

In this bonus Capitol Insider interview, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley sit down with Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister to talk about education issues, including the state's revised A through F school grading system, teacher pay and four day school weeks. 

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