Despite the approval from lawmakers to raise teachers' pay in Oklahoma, many are still threatening to walk out of schools and to the state capital on Monday.
Lawmakers approved a bill that will raise teachers' pay by an average $6,100 annually. It is the first pay raise since 2007 and the largest raise in the history of the state. The legislation now heads to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican who says she will sign the bill.
"This is an historic evening for the state of Oklahoma. I applaud the bipartisanship shown in the Senate tonight and in the House of Representatives earlier this week by passing House Bill 1010XX. Those voting yes answered the call from the public by voting teachers a pay raise and putting the state on a solid foundation for the future," Fallin said. "I will follow through on their courage and action by signing House Bill 1010XX."
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The president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, Ed Allen said in a press release the union "accepts this package of pay raises" but considers it a "down payment."
"Teachers' voices were heard and reflected in the bill that acknowledges that educators have been woefully underpaid and undervalued and schools have been grossly underfunded. While the Oklahoma City AFT accepts this package of pay raises, tax increases and education investment, we consider it a down payment," Allen said. "Families need much more to feel assured that schools can recruit and keep quality educators and that kids get the resources they need to succeed."
Allen said "the fight goes on" and announced that members of the AFT will rally on April 2 in support of a higher pay increase.
The Oklahoma Education Association went further, also criticizing the pay raise and pledging to walk out Monday.
"There is still work to do to get this legislature to invest more in our classrooms. That work will continue Monday when educators descend on the Capitol, union President Alicia Priest said.
Teachers in Oklahoma are the second group to call for a pay raise and threaten a walk-out. Earlier this year, educators in West Virginia demanded an increase in pay and went on strike until the state's Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill that gave teachers, school staff and police a 5 percent raise.
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