OpEd: Oklahoma’s Striking Teachers Are Intoxicated By Their Own Demands

Oklahoma’s striking teachers are intoxicated by their own demands
BY FREDERICK M. HESS, GRANT ADDISON, American Enterprise Institute 

Oklahoma’s teachers have just completed the first week of a statewide “walkout,” with no resolution in sight. (It’s a “walkout,” not a “strike,” as public-employee strikes are illegal in Oklahoma.)

Ironically, the state’s teachers had won much of what they wanted before the walkout even began. On Friday, March 23, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), the state’s largest teachers union, issued an ambitious list of demands: a $10,000 pay raise for teachers; $5,000 raise for school-support personnel; $200 million over three years in additional local-school funding; a 5 percent cost-of-living increase for retirees; and $500 million over three years to “fully staff state agencies” and raise state employee pay by $7,500 a year. In OEA’s estimation, this total package would cost more than $1.4 billion over three years.

In response, on Thursday, March 29 the Oklahoma legislature enacted a new teacher-pay scale that boosted average teacher pay by $6,100 — or 16 percent. This represented a remarkable win for teachers: In 2016, Oklahoma’s average teacher salary of $45,276 ranked 49th nationally, according to the National Education Association (NEA). The raise was funded via new taxes on gas, tobacco, and oil production, along with a new limit on income-tax deductions.

Yet, teachers were not placated — and on Monday, April 2, they started the walkout. The next day, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a $2.9 billion appropriations bill for education funding in fiscal year 2019 — a 19.7 percent boost in spending over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The legislation includes $353.5 million for teacher pay (funding the $6,100 average raise); $52 million for support personnel pay; $50 million for textbooks and general state aid; and $24.7 million for health-care benefits. Fallin signed additional legislation providing a $1,250 annual pay bump for school-support personnel and tiered raises for state employees ranging from $750 to $2,000.

Read the complete story on thehill.com

One thought on “OpEd: Oklahoma’s Striking Teachers Are Intoxicated By Their Own Demands

  • How ignorant can you be in one article between two people? I’m impressed, I made it the whole way through and never was able to find you mention the actual reason for the walk out, which isn’t teacher raises, but a sustainable source of funding for public schools that isn’t a one year band-aid. Next time you write an article about a topic, perhaps you both should do some actual investigating before posting something. Being from the American Enterprise Institute you should know how to do that, I am surprised you failed to even presumably talk to anyone involved in the strike, or even read what the bill was that was passed. You will quickly learn that what had passed was absolutely nowhere near what was being requested, so “ironically” you completely missed the mark. Hopefully you’ll do better next time 😉


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