Science

Striking Oklahoma teachers push for more funds, Republicans say done

Striking Oklahoma teachers push for more funds, Republicans say done

Oklahoma teachers carried their walkout over school funding and higher pay into a ninth day on Tuesday as a union leader declared that educators had the advantage of momentum in a battle with the Republican-dominated state legislature.

Many Oklahoma school districts have canceled classes since April 2 when thousands of teachers traveled to the state Capitol demanding that lawmakers provide more tax dollars for classroom needs.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says a Custer County teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her 15-year-old students has been charged with rape.

Schools in the state's largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, remained closed the day after Republican Governor Mary Fallin signed into law two bills that raised taxes but fell short of teachers demand for another $150 million.

While the states experiencing protests are among the most severely affected - Reuters notes that they "have some of the lowest per-student spending in the country" - the effects of reduced public revenues and spending can be seen in national data as well.

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Organizers said Monday's protest could be the largest since the walkout began, drawing as many as 40,000 people. More than 100 lawyers backing the teachers and dubbed "the women in black" for dressing in dark clothing met lawmakers.

They also want lawmakers to implement a hotel tax that would bring in an estimated $50 million.

A West Virginia strike last month ended with a pay raise for teachers.

Fallin recently approved a $6,100 pay raise for teachers, but Oklahoma teachers said this is not enough. Educators in other states, increasingly angry over stagnating wages, are also considering walkouts. They are requesting a $10,000 pay raise over three years.


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