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The Latest: Oklahoma teacher group demands $6,000 pay raise

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By The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Latest on statewide school closures as teachers demand better pay (all times local):

2 p.m.

The largest teacher organization in Oklahoma says its members will walk out of their classrooms if lawmakers don't approve a $6,000 raise by April 1, echoing plans of other educators across the U.S.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said Thursday teachers are planning a statewide work stoppage on April 2 unless the Legislature raises their salaries for the first time since 2008. Priest says teachers are demanding a $6,000 raise this year and $2,000 in each of the next two years.

Priest says teachers have reached a breaking point after years of staff shortages and overcrowded classrooms. The National Education Association ranked Oklahoma 49th in the nation in teacher salaries in 2016.

A teacher strike in West Virginia led to a pay raise this week, and Arizona teachers are considering walkouts.

12:30 p.m.

Oklahoma's top educator is calling on the Legislature to increase public school teachers' pay because she says they require a competitive salary to end a chronic teacher shortage and overcrowded classrooms.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told the Board of Education on Thursday that Oklahoma teachers are considering walking out of classrooms after "plan after plan" to provide the first teacher pay raise since 2008 has failed in the Legislature.

Hofmeister says the state needs to increase teacher pay by $5,000 a year to be competitive in the region. Hofmeister says it's a struggle to recruit and retain teachers in the state and that the teacher shortage "is a true crisis."

Leaders from the Oklahoma Education Association plan to outline their plans Thursday for statewide school closures, joining calls from other educator groups in the U.S.

10:30 a.m.

Oklahoma teachers are outlining plans for statewide school closures if its demands for pay raises and additional funding are not met by the Legislature, joining calls from other educator groups in the U.S.

Leaders from the Oklahoma Education Association will give details Thursday for the planned work stoppage. President Alicia Priest said in a video on the group's Facebook page that lawmakers must pass a budget for public schools by April 1 that includes a "meaningful" raise for teachers and support professionals or school closures will start April 2.

House Speaker Charles McCall said Wednesday a teacher pay raise remains a priority for House Republicans and urged educators to "take heart."

A teacher strike in West Virginia led to a pay raise this week. Arizona teachers also are contemplating walkouts.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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