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Morning Bell: Gov wants teachers to be 'realistic'

Good Tuesday morning. Gov. Mary Fallin said teachers need to be realistic about what can get done this year as they threaten to strike on April 2. 

"The teachers also have to recognize that there has been an effort to give them a pay raise, to give them more money," Fallin told The Oklahoman during a Monday visit to Durant. "So, they have to be realistic in what can really be done, especially when we’ve gone through five years with an economic downturn of the energy sector."

I included Fallin's thoughts in a story today about how little urgency there has been out of lawmakers following last week's threat of a strike from the Oklahoma Education Association. 

Rep. Jeff Coody, R-Granfield, who was one of 35 House members to vote against a tax increase proposal in February that included a $5,000 teacher pay raise, said the threat of a strike hasn't swayed him or other lawmakers. 

"I don't believe that a walkout is going to magically generate a solution, it may do quite the contrary," Coody said. 

More districts support walkout: At an emergency board meeting on Monday, the Edmond Public School Board passed a resolution in support of teachers in the event of a walk out. (KFOR) Moore Public Schools officials also voted on Monday to fully support teachers who decide to walk out of classrooms on April 2. (KOCO)

Owasso Public Schools are set to close for up to 10 days in the event of a teacher walkout, with the school board noting that it will convene a special session to approve more days should the work stoppage be prolonged by inaction from the Legislature, reports the Tulsa World

OKCPS will not hold one-day walkout

Oklahoma City School District teachers will not participate in a one-day walkout planned for March 28, The Oklahoman has learned.

Tap trust fund for teacher bonuses?

Scrounging for a way to give teachers pay raises or bonuses without raising taxes, some state lawmakers have set their sights on a $2.4 billion pot of money managed by the Commissioners of the Land Office.

About $1.7 billion of that $2.4 billion is held in trust for common schools.

The challenge — which could prove insurmountable — is figuring out a way to tap the Land Office's common schools trust fund for more money each year without violating the Oklahoma Constitution.

OU department honors Clara Luper

The University of Oklahoma's Department of African and African American Studies now honors Clara Luper, one of Oklahoma's most recognized civil rights leaders and a former Oklahoma City teacher, reports the Norman Transcript

Luper will have her name forever attached to one of the university's newest academic departments. The OU Board of Regents approved the measure in its regular meeting last week.

"We honor Clara Luper as a trailblazer for human rights and as a symbol of the university’s commitment to equal opportunity for all people," OU President David Boren said.

Luper taught history and public relations classes at Oklahoma City-area high schools for more than 40 years. During that time, she also led the first sit-ins in the nation, paving a path for black Americans to protest their treatment and status in society in the late 1950s.

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 ›