Morning Bell: TEACHER WALKOUT - DAY 1
Good Monday morning. Today could become one of the most consequential days in Oklahoma public school history as tens of thousands of educators are expected to rally at the state Capitol, shutting down schools across the state.
How long the teachers strike lasts is unknown? It's also not clear what the Legislature is willing to do in response to the demands for more public school funding.
But after years of budget cuts and challenging conditions in Oklahoma classrooms, teachers are ready to make their voices heard.
The Oklahoman will have a team of reporters out today covering the walkout and NewsOK will be will be full of stories, photos and video from the Capitol and across the region. NewsOK will also have live video casts at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. with the latest on what is happening at the Capitol.
- Related to this story
- Video: Oklahoma Schools Shut Down
Why is the strike still happening?
State senators patted each other on the back after a late Wednesday vote, a few even exchanged a high five, and Oklahoma's governor said lawmakers deserved a "thank you" from teachers.
With the passage of more than $400 million in tax hikes, the Legislature had funded a $6,000 teacher pay raise and seemingly averted a long-term teachers strike.
But even though she stood to benefit from the pay raise, Woodward teacher Amy Whitewater felt sick to her stomach.
“It's gut wrenching and I feel like a sellout,” said Whitewater, who was disappointed there wasn't a larger funding increase for public schools.
“I feel like the message is: I'm going to take the raise while my students get breadcrumbs.”
Not only did the pay raise fall short of the $10,000 pay increase the state's largest teachers union was seeking, the Legislature failed to make up for a decade of school funding cuts.
When will the walkout end?
Several schools have said they are prepared to be closed for the rest of the week and many teachers are vowing to stay on strike until the Legislature pumps more money into school funding.
"I think there's a real possibility of this being longer than a one-day shutdown," said Rick Cobb, superintendent of Mid-Del Schools.
Education advocates are expected to push for additional taxes to fund school budgets, possibly including an end to the capital gains tax deduction and approval of ball and dice gaming at casinos.
But many lawmakers signaled last week they believe they have done all they can for the year.
Stick with NewsOK today for complete coverage of Day 1 of the Oklahoma teacher walkout.