The Oklahoma Legislature has finalized a revenue deal for teacher raises, but teachers still are planning for a widespread walkout next week.
The Tulsa World reports that the Tulsa district has announced that its schools will be shut down Monday so teachers can go to a rally at the state capital in Oklahoma City.
If school closures will be necessary the following day, leaders say they will announce the closure to the public no later than 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, in much the same way they do on snow days.
Alberto Morejon, a Stillwater teacher who founded the 72,000-member Facebook group Oklahoma Teacher Walkout – The Time Is Now, says teachers are not ungrateful for the raises lawmakers passed — they simply fell too far short of what teachers say is needed to improve the quality of education for students.
"It gives teachers something, but doesn’t really do much for students. If we actually want to be able to buy textbooks and reduce class sizes, $50 million isn’t enough," says Morejon. "They had so many opportunities to pass a bill. They threw this bill together because they don't want us to walk out — I think they want to mislead the public and convince people that they addressed the problem."
Immediately after Wednesday evening's state senate passage of a $447 million revenue package, officials and civic leaders celebrated the news.
Morejon says: "All you hear them saying on the news is `It’s historic, it’s awesome.' Right now, they’re trying to repeal one of the taxes on the bill they just approved yesterday, and they don’t even know how they’re going to pay for it."
He was referring to a vote in the state house to repeal a portion of the revenue package that would have added a $5 lodging fee per room to hotels and motels to generate about $44 million for 2019. The state Senate is expected to approve the repeal.