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Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Police Sgt. Jeff Crawford is breaking his routine. He’s leaving the office and climbing into his squad car because Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers and supporters are rallying at the state Capitol to demand more school funding.

Crawford is a school resource officer who normally works out of Douglass Mid-High School. He has left his post temporarily to check on elementary schools and community centers in eastern Oklahoma City that are feeding kids who depend on the meals they get in school.

Photos: These Are The Faces Of The Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

Apr 3, 2018
Megan Ross / Unfiltered

On the first day of the Oklahoma teacher walkout, more than 30,000 people demonstrated at the state capitol, including teachers, school staff, students, parents and state employees.  These are just a few of the teachers who participated in the walkout, as well as their supporters.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Boosting teacher pay by an average of $6,000—which the Legislature approved last week—wasn’t enough to put the brakes on a massive shut-down of schools to rally at the state Capitol. An estimated 30,000 people attended Monday’s rally, and many school districts are closed again Tuesday so the walkout can continue.

UPDATED: 11:14 p.m.

A revenue package that included several tax increases passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Monday night, the first time a tax increase has passed the House in 28 years.

It was a late night for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in an effort to avoid a teacher and public employee walkout next week. After several failed attempts over the last 17 months to find funding for a teacher pay raise, Democrats and Republicans struck a deal over the weekend.

Oklahoma state Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017.
Sue Ogracki / AP Photo

Teachers are preparing to walk out of the classroom starting April 2, and several legislators have proposed plans to avoid the work stoppage. One in particular, proposed by former teacher Sen. Michael Bergstrom, R-Adair, would raise pay for both teachers and state employees.

Laboratory manager Karim Saadeddine prepares a soil sample for testing at TerraCon Consultants, 4701 N. Stiles Ave. in Oklahoma City. TerraCon holds a summer jobs program for teachers.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

Oklahoma’s education department is looking for companies to host teachers this summer.

Last year, a pilot program placed teachers with companies that hire people in science, math, engineering and technology, or STEM, related fields. The state is trying to expand the program this year.

Reveal

Federal law requires colleges and universities to track and disclose sexual assaults on campus. It’s different for kindergarten through 12th grade, where there are no similar requirements for cases involving assaults between students. In elementary, middle and high schools across the U.S., the Associated Press found a shocking level of sexual violence among students, including on U.S. military bases.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Norman Students Walk Out To Protest Gun Violence

Mar 14, 2018
Storme Jones / KGOU

More than 400 students at Norman High School walked out of class to protest gun violence on Wednesday morning, joining thousands of young protesters from across the country, one month after a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Oklahoma Watch

A threatened teacher walkout in early April casts a shadow over the legislative session and could disrupt the lives of parents, children, educators and many others should it go on for days or weeks.

State employees also are planning a multi-agency work stoppage on April 2, which would widen and deepen the impact.

Interviews Show Teachers On A Collision Course With Unwavering Lawmakers

Mar 9, 2018
Jennifer Palmer / Oklahoma Watch

It became official Thursday: The largest, most organized voice for Oklahoma teachers issued an ultimatum to legislators that teachers will shut down much of Oklahoma’s public-school system indefinitely unless serious money is found to boost teacher pay and education funding.

Oklahoma teachers rallied in support of the Step Up Oklahoma plan on February 12, 2018. The plan would have provided $5,000 teacher pay raises, but failed in the House.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The state’s largest teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, says it will announce the details of a statewide teacher walkout on Thursday.

Alicia Priest, the president of the OEA, says years of failed attempts by the legislature to increase education funding and teacher pay have forced the organization to consider the walkout.

Amber Ross / AP Images

Oklahoma lawmakers enacted legislation in 2015 that lets school employees, including teachers, carry guns on campus. Okay Public Schools, near Tahlequah, appears to be the only district in the state that uses the law to arm its staff.

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Every year, Oklahoma state lawmakers propose legislation to make carrying guns easier and push back on attempts to constrain gun ownership.

Yet nationally, firearms and momentum for stricter gun control continue to be high-profile issues that draw widespread attention after each mass shooting, whether in Nevada, Texas or Florida.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

When President Donald Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last September, he put 700,000 immigrants’ futures in jeopardy.

The Obama-era policy, also known as DACA, protects young people who were brought to America by their parents — many illegally — from deportation.

New Curriculum Will Teach History of Tulsa Race Riots

Feb 21, 2018
Tulsa Historial Society and Museum

The Tulsa Race Riots lasted two days. Thirty-five blocks of black neighborhoods were destroyed and at least 39 people died. Historians now agree it was among the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. However, state Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, says many Oklahoma teachers often brush over the topic, or teach it incorrectly. He hopes a new Tulsa Race Riot curriculum can change that.

ChickHS / Wikimedia Commons

The Grady County Election Board has certified a petition from residents of Chickasha, asking the state auditor and inspector to investigate the finances of the local school district.

The board confirmed that it validated and certified the signatures of 1,223 registered voters on Friday.  

Is A Teachers Strike Imminent?

Feb 20, 2018
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Budget cuts to education are mounting. And on Monday, the Oklahoma House moved to reduce funding for state agencies for the current fiscal year.

The state Education Department stands to lose $16.2 million. Combined with higher education and other education agencies, the losses would be nearly $22 million.

Attempts to raise revenue have so far failed, including a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax and a proposal by a coalition of business and civic leaders called Step Up Oklahoma. Many Oklahoma teachers say they are fed up, and there is talk of a strike.

Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

Lawmakers are right back where they started after a much-anticipated vote to pass one of the largest tax increases in state history fell short in the state House.

Despite business luminaries and hundreds of educators filling the Capitol in support of the Step Up Oklahoma Plan, the revenue-raising proposal only received 63 votes, which was 13 votes shy of passing the constitutionally required three-fourths threshold for revenue-raising bills.

Storme Jones / KGOU

When Gov. Mary Fallin addressed lawmakers in her first State of the State speech in 2011, she implored them to fix a $600 million hole in the state budget. Seven years later, in her final State of the State address, the legislature is faced with a similar task: filling an estimated $425 million gap in the budget.

 

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