Wednesday, 25 April, 2018

Day 8 of Oklahoma teacher walkout: Class in session outside state capitol

Oklahoma superstar chimes in about teacher walkout Local Close Oklahoma superstar chimes in about teacher walkout
Delia Stanley | 13 April, 2018, 06:11

Group activities there ranged from ballet lessons and study sessions to hula-hooping to Taylor Swift and playing Uno. So one of the kids' parents suggested a playdate at the school.

The state's Department of Education agreed Monday to extend by week the testing period for students taking standardized tests. These "walk-ins" are not yet "walk outs", though organizers have indicated that would be a looming possibility.

The association has three main demands: $10,000 raises over three years for teachers; $5,000 raises for bus drivers, custodians and other staff; and the restoration of more than $100 million in education funding that has been trimmed in the last decade.

Desert Ridge Orchestra Director Ajay Patel helped organize his school's walk-in April 4.

"I feel camaraderie, hope and passion for public education", said Custred, from behind a pair of sunglasses that reflected the sea of homemade signs in front of her.

While the states experiencing protests are among the most severely affected - Reuters notes that they "have some of the lowest per-student spending in the country" - the effects of reduced public revenues and spending can be seen in national data as well. Average salaries in 2017 were actually $8,000-9,000 less than 1990 salaries, when adjusted for inflation. "Teachers are not the only state employees that want raises and want funding". Library books on how to be a social activist sit on his coffee table in the small apartment he shares in downtown Phoenix.

Karvelis said earlier that the group sees no choice but to move to walkouts. "It's not fair to make them take it if they aren't ready for it". He said it's been a new challenge to balance work and activism. He says the district has been participating in the walkout for a good cause, but it has brought them many controversies. "It's a weird balance". Since the Great Recession, Arizona has cut more school funding than any other state through 2015 and in 2018 funding was almost 14 percent below what it was in 2008.

"It's going well", Alexander said. "We need candidates who are worthy of our children".

Despite the promising news, many teachers and their supporters continue to show up, even making a 110 mile march from Tulsa to the Capitol on April 10.

Governor Doug Ducey said he won't increase taxes and he said the twenty percent increase teachers are demanding is not likely to happen.

"Gov. Fallin has spent years doing far too little for public education, so it's no surprise that she took measures to further neglect students today", OEA President Alicia Priest said in a statement following the bill signing.

A day after the Capitol rally, Ducey justified those pay hikes.

"The hardest thing right now, I think our Legislature is really trying to drag their feet", Lamb said.

"A third grader came up to me in Target and asked me when they were going back to school because they depend on school lunches".

Without any support, Gaeta said, she has become a de facto pupil liaison for many teachers.

Organizers of the Arizona teacher movement, like Karvelis, don't think the governor's actions match his words. Axing the capital gains tax deduction would generate about $120 million annually.

Word of a possible resolution Wednesday remained just that.

They are receiving massive support and solidarity.

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