OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma teachers continued to rally Tuesday, shuttering many schools for a second day to demand higher pay and education funding, in an effort that also recently engulfed West Virginia, Kentucky and Arizona.
Oklahoma teachers won raises last week averaging 16%, or $6,100 — the first pay increase for some educators in a decade — under legislation signed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.
But that wasn’t enough to prevent a walkout that brought about 20,000 teachers, students and other supporters to the Oklahoma Capitol. The strike closed the 10 largest school districts in the state, with at least 234,000 students combined.
“If I didn’t have a second job, I’d be on food stamps,” said Rae Lovelace, a third-grade teacher and single mother in northwest Oklahoma who works 30 to 40 hours a week at a second job.
Teachers are also pushing to restore state education funding to pre-recession levels — which would require its governor and Legislature to reinvest nearly $1 billion more annually.
Oklahoma City Public Schools announced classes would again be canceled Wednesday, as the protests and legislative talks continue.
“We are hopeful that our legislators will continue working this afternoon toward a solution, but we wanted to make this decision as early as possible to give our families adequate time to plan,” the school district said in a statement.