Legislators in Oklahoma took a step toward preventing a state-wide teacher’s strike this week when they passed House Bill 1010XX, which will give a $6,100 pay raise to all public school teachers in the state. The bill is being touted as “the largest teacher pay raise in the history of the state” and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said she would happily sign the bill after it passed through the Oklahoma House and Senate earlier this week.
“I appreciate our lawmakers putting people over politics by approving this package of revenue measures to fund teacher pay raises as well as provide additional money for the classroom,” Fallin said in a statement.
However, according to The Oklahoma Education Association, which represents nearly 40,000 educators, the bill, while impressive, may not be enough to prevent a strike. OEA President Alicia Priest said that the bill leaves significant funds on the table that could provide immediate relief to teachers who are overworked and underfunded.
“This package doesn’t overcome shortfall caused by four-day weeks, overcrowded classrooms that deprive kids of the one-on-one attention they need. It’s not enough,” Priest said. “We must continue to push for more annual funding for our schools to reduce class size and restore more of the 28% of funds they cut from education over the last decade.”
Priest said the OEA was calling for a $10,000 pay raise for teachers over the next three years and a $5,000 pay raise for “full-time support professionals”, including custodians, secretaries, and bus drivers.
Oklahoma teachers have been threatening a walk-out for the last few weeks, citing unfair compensation as the primary reason for a strike. According to CNN, the state ranks 49th in teacher salaries, paying educators over $18,000 less per year than the national average. After the teachers in West Virginia successfully earned higher pay from the state by striking, teachers from other states, including Oklahoma and Arizona, have considered following suit.