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Morning Bell: Union circles date for possible strike

Good Wednesday morning. A possible teacher strike in Oklahoma got one step closer as the state's largest union announced April 23 as a deadline for the state Legislature to approve pay raises and increased school funding, or "schools will close." 

The Oklahoma Education Association said the deadline was set to give the Legislature enough time to complete legislation. Following the announced deadline, I spoke with OEA Executive Director David DuVall about why April 23 was selected and what the union's proposal will include. 

"We have to have a $10,000 teacher pay increase over the next three years, and additional money for school operations," DuVall said. "We are not going to ask teachers to shut down schools to just have them put a band-aid on this. We also need the (Legislature) to provide operational funds for our school districts to buy textbooks and technology. We have hit a critical stage."

You can read a Q&A with DuVall here

The reaction online from teachers seemed to be mixed. Many thought a strike should happen sooner and that April 23 was too late. Others celebrated an actual date on the calendar. 

-The Oklahoma City School Board and the district's acting superintendent are backing teachers considering a strike.

"We will support the voices of our teachers and we will support our teachers in what they need to do to advocate for themselves at the Capitol," said Acting Superintendent Rebecca Kaye. "Our teachers don't make enough money to take care of their families and something has to change."

-So is Tulsa. “We support all measures taken by our classroom teachers to demand the necessary funding for a meaningful teacher pay raise and adequate education funding," the Tulsa school board said this week

-One person who isn't supporting a potential strike is gubernatorial candidate Mick Cornett. "I understand they're desperate at this point," Cornett said. "But that is not something I would support. As much as I support teachers, I don't support a strike." 

Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, another Republican running for governor, said Tuesday that a strike was avoidable.

"It's a critical situation,'' Jones said. "If the Legislature doesn't get it done, that's another failure on their part."

The Oklahoman's Christ Casteel has more.

Edmond school tops $200K in fundraiser

Edmond Santa Fe High School students raised $204,206 during Double Wolf Dare Week to help ill children attend unique camps through the Cavett Kids Foundation. For many years, the Cavett Kids Foundation has provided five camps, serving nearly 360 children with various life-threatening and chronic diseases.

Summit today explores childhood trauma

Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of young children with adverse experiences, such as domestic violence, sexual assault and poverty.

Research has shown a connection between those types of adverse experiences and poor health, which might explain why Oklahoma consistently ranks as one of the worst states in a variety of health outcomes, including teen pregnancy, smoking and heart disease.

The goal behind a public summit today is to not only better understand that correlation but also explore ways to respond.

“How do you build a resilient community?” asked Craig Knutson, president of the Potts Family Foundation. “Well, there are certain things that you can do and we need to come together to talk about it.”

Hosted by the Potts Family Foundation, the Raising Resilient Oklahomans! Summit will be held in Edmond today

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Wednesday. 

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›