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Oklahoma Teachers Union Lays Out $1.4 Billion In Demands From Legislature

President of the Oklahoma Education Association, Alicia Priest, says teachers are frustrated with lawmakers for not doing their jobs.
Emily Wendler
StateImpact Oklahoma
President of the Oklahoma Education Association, Alicia Priest, says teachers are frustrated with lawmakers for not doing their jobs.

In the first public press conference since talk of a statewide teacher walkout began, the largest Oklahoma teachers union laid out its demands for the state legislature.

The demands include:

  • $10,000 pay raise for teachers over the next three years
  • $5,000 raise for school support professionals, like secretaries, custodians and bus drivers
  • $200 million in increased school funding over three years
  • $213 million for state employee raises
  • $256 million in health care funding over the next two years.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest says the goal is not to close schools, it’s to fund education. But, if the legislature doesn’t act schools will shut down on April 2.
“Schools will stay closed until we get what we are asking for,” she said.

The OEA’s plan does not identify specific revenue sources because Priest says the legislature has developed several plans over the past few years that could be used to fund the raises.

Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz says a $10,000 raise over time is possible, but it’s going to be tough.

“That would be about $600 million in additional revenue. We’ve seen a struggle in the House to pass anything that would raise $300-$400 million [in revenue]. So I think if you’re asking that chamber to raise $600 million… that would be very difficult.”

He said he thinks a $5,000 raise is more obtainable.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

In graduate school at the University of Montana, Emily Wendler focused on Environmental Science and Natural Resource reporting with an emphasis on agriculture. About halfway through her Master’s program a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love. She has since reported for KBGA, the University of Montana’s college radio station and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio. She is very excited to be working in Oklahoma City, and you can hear her work on all things from education to agriculture right here on KOSU.
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