Teachers demands raise education funding: US

Job actions comes nearly one month after similar move by teachers in West Virginia won pay raises
WASHINGTON: Tens of thousands of teachers in the states of Kentucky and Oklahoma on Monday are protesting low pay and demanding more education funding for students.
Massive walkouts forced schools to close in both states as the teachers gathered at their state capitols to urging lawmakers to restore education funding.
“Stop the war on public education!” teachers chanted during the rally, carrying signs that reads: “Don’t make me use my TEACHER voice,” and “STRAIGHT OUTTA SUPPLIES.”
Teachers in both states asked lawmakers to support education by allocating more funds as they hundreds of students walked side-by-side with their teachers.
Many schools in Kentucky and Oklahoma are facing financial hardships and most do not have enough textbooks for students. In addition, some schools do not have electricity because of unpaid bills.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin last week signed raises of around $6,100 – about 15 to 18 percent per teacher, as well as $33 million for textbooks and $18 million in additional school funding. Taxes on cigarettes, fuel and gas production in the state have been increased, to raise money for the move.
Teacher union leaders gave state lawmakers until April 1 to pass a funding package that includes a $10,000 pay raise for teachers and a $200 million fund to public schools, pledging that if their demands do not meet, teachers across the state would launch a strike and would not return until their demands are met.
“It’s day-by-day, depending upon the legislature fulfilling their promise,” Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association teachers’ union told the media. “We’re going to say that our legislature started the process and they have a moral obligation to invest in our children and our children’s future. That obligation has not been met yet. Funding for our students is an issue in every schoolhouse in the state of Oklahoma.”
State Senator Joseph Silk said Oklahoma recently passed a $447 million tax increase that is a “substantial amount” of revenue for one year and he does believe lawmakers will do anything else this year on education funding.
Oklahoma is among the bottom three states in teachers’ salaries, and until Thursday, teachers had not received a raise in a decade. Many teachers in the state are forced to work second jobs to meet their financial needs.
The walkouts in Oklahoma and Kentucky comes nearly a month after West Virginia teachers went on strike for similar concerns and received a pay raise.–AA

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