Oklahoma Teachers Frustrated Over Legislature's Progress On Raises
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma teachers are 20 days from staging a walkout, unless the legislature approves massive raises and spending for schools and state workers. So far, there’s been little public movement.
Two Harrah teachers are spending their spring break sitting on the floor of the Capitol grading papers and talking with legislators.
“For the most part what it seems like to us is that they don’t care,” said Harrah High School Teacher Aaron Kaspereit, “They don’t think we’re going to strike. I’m sorry. April 2nd most of the schools in the state are going to be shut down.”
Reynolds Elementary School teacher Sara Shrimp added, “We are thinking that a lot of legislators are not taking this seriously that teachers across the state, we are going to threaten that we are going to walk out.”
House Democrats say if Republicans are working on a plan, Dems haven’t been invited to the table. They say they’re talking with education associations.
“Not only to talk about what you want but how you want to fund it,” said Representative Emily Virgin (D) Democratic Caucus Chair.
But it’s the legislature’s job to come up with a funding solution.
“It is. It is.” Virgin said, “And we have thrown out many plans.”
But none of them have worked. Being at the Capitol and listening to the bills lawmakers are talking about, teachers are learning a lot.
“We’re voting on stuff right now that makes no sense when we’re facing a pending strike,” Kaspereit said. “This isn’t a joke. I think they’re seeing that teachers are tired of being disrespected. And honestly that’s what it looks like for us.”
House Republican leaders say they’re reaching out to Democrats and to the Senate, but because they’re in discussions, they don’t want to answer any questions on camera.