Thursday, April 12, 2018

Reaction to end of teacher walkout

Here's some reaction that came in tonight in response to the end of the teacher walkout. First, Governor Mary Fallin:

Governor Mary Fallin Statement on End of Nine-Day Public School Teacher Walkout

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin this evening issued the following statement on the announced end of the nine-day public school teacher walkout:

“Oklahomans and our elected officials have proven they are committed to school children, teachers and educators. We appreciate our professional teachers. I’m glad teachers who participated in the union strike will return to teaching their students.  They’ve been out for two weeks, and it’s time for them to get back to school. Student learning at schools affected by the strike has been halted for nearly two weeks at a critical time in the academic year when federal and state testing requirements need to be completed.

“Three weeks ago, before the walkout, I gave final approval to an historic raise for teachers, which allows for a $6,100, or 16 percent, pay raise on average. Now, Oklahoma’s teacher pay moves up from the lowest, in average teacher pay, to second in the seven-state region and up to 29th from 49th nationally. Oklahoma’s teacher-pay ranking improves to 12th in the nation when adjusted for cost of living. And last week I signed a bill - approved by legislators before the walkout - which allocates $2.9 billion for common education for the upcoming 2019 fiscal year, which is the largest amount ever appropriated in Oklahoma for K-12 public education and a 19.7 percent increase over this fiscal year’s appropriation for public schools.

“I am very proud that Republican lawmakers have led the way on increasing educational expenditures for Oklahoma’s students this session. In addition, they have protected Oklahomans, especially small businesses and farmers, from an irresponsible capital gains tax. The Legislature still has important work to do for the people of Oklahoma before they adjourn, including criminal justice reform and meeting the financial needs of other core services such as public safety, health and human services. I appreciate their ongoing efforts to address all of the priorities in the state.

“I want to thank the more than 100 Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers who worked long hours at the state Capitol to keep teachers, visitors and state employees safe. The state employees who work at the Capitol deserve our state’s gratitude for their service, too.”

From the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, the leading right-wing think tank in Oklahoma:

OCPA Statement on the End of the Teacher Walkout

After the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) announced the end of the teacher walkout, Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), released the following statement:

“We are glad that teachers received a needed pay raise. Now, for the sake of the most vulnerable, we must focus on transformational reforms.

“Since 2015, lawmakers have increased taxes and other revenue by more than $1 billion, including increases of $610 million since March 29, 2018 alone.

“Now that teachers have received a pay raise, we must focus on reforms that will empower teachers and local school districts to use funds to best meet the needs of students.”

From the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the leading left-wing think tank in Oklahoma:

Oklahoma Policy Institute: Walkout resulted in major victories for education, but the work is not done

Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt released the following statement on the announcement that the Oklahoma Education Association is shifting focus beyond the teacher walkout:

Teachers and other participants in the historic walkout to save Oklahoma schools deserve our thanks. This walkout was responsible for breaking years of legislative gridlock and motivating a supermajority of lawmakers to approve the tax increases needed to raise teacher pay for the first time in a decade. During the walkout, advocates delivered a loud and clear message heard by the whole state that we must do more to support schools.

The walkout was the continuation of years of growing action by a broad coalition of educators, parents, school boards, and regular Oklahomans. These efforts will continue, because the work of funding core services is not done.

The revenues approved by lawmakers just before and during the walkout represent a major breakthrough, but they are still not enough to fully fund new commitments to education, much less to undo years of devastating cuts to school programs and other core services like public safety, health care, and protection of vulnerable Oklahomans. Lawmakers have not adopted all of the sensible revenue options available to them, like removing the costly, ineffective capital gains deduction, or rolling back income tax cuts for high earners that have not lived up to their promises of economic growth.

We have more work to do, but the good news is that more Oklahomans than ever are stepping up to do that work — from advocating with their lawmakers to running for office themselves. As the walkout comes to an end, lawmakers should know that these voices and this movement are not going away.


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