Arizona teachers near walk out over pay, funding

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While the unions have promoted state Democrats as the champions of public education, the school crisis in Oklahoma, like the rest of the country, is the product of a bipartisan assault on public education by both big-business parties.

The demonstrations, which will mostly happen before the start of the school day, are meant to build more support from parents and school administrators.

Oklahoma public school teachers are among the lowest paid in the US and the state's education system has seen inflation-adjusted general funding per student drop by about 28 precent over the past decade, according to Reuters.

Considering that Oklahoma ranks next to last in the nation for teacher pay, educators are not willing to back down.

"As teachers, our nature is the best for our students", Leah Hedger, an Edmond teacher, told News 4 during the Monday morning march to the state capitol.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest told teachers rallying at the Capitol that lawmakers must eliminate a capital gains tax exemption and the governor must veto a repeal of a proposed lodging tax to end the protests.

But behind the scenes, superintendents are discussing the logistics of a work stoppage. "I feel like the legislators think they can wait us out".

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West Virginia teachers were on strike for nine consecutive school days.

The political push in Oklahoma is part of a wave of teacher rebellions in states led by conservative leaders. With demands for statewide strikes spreading from Kentucky, Arizona and SC to Florida, Iowa and Texas, the unions have warned teachers that strikes are illegal and would lead to "harsh consequences". "We urge educators statewide not to allow our united efforts to be compromised by continued calls for action that deprive students, parents and communities of the educational services we provide".

The Trump administration's budget, which was passed with Democratic support, included $400 million for charter school grants, a $58 million or 17 percent increase over the previous year. "They're not given the opportunity to make enough money to do that", she said.

McDugle said he had voted to increase teacher funding once already, but wouldn't vote to do it again. Supporters of the bill said the changes are necessary to save the state's pension systems.

While at some point, AFT said they planned to leave the Capitol, for now, they plan on continuing to fight for funding in an effort to bring schools up to modern, decent standards and to give children a bright future.

One group of teacher walked the 100 miles from Tulsa to the capitol in Oklahoma City, to draw attention to their plight. They are requesting a $10,000 pay raise over three years.

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