Thousands of teachers rallied Tuesday at Oklahoma's state Capitol for the second day of a walkout, demanding increased salaries and state funding for schools.
Teachers want an additional $150 million in school funding, after a 16 percent pay increase from legislators last week failed to meet their full demands. Oklahoma teachers have an average salary of around $42,460, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows, putting them in 48th place in average U.S. classroom teacher salary. Lawmakers say that they won't budge because they've already granted an additional $50 million in school funding.
The stalemate is poised to continue after the Oklahoma House adjourned Tuesday without taking up Senate-approved revenue-raising measures. One representative vowed not to vote on any more funding efforts because of the strike. "I'm not voting for another stinking measure when they're acting the way they're acting," said Rep. Kevin McDugle (R) in a since-deleted Facebook Live video, reports Tulsa World. "Go ahead, be pissed at me if you want to."
Many schools in Oklahoma are closed this week, leaving hundreds of thousands of students on break until teachers and lawmakers resolve the demands. Some teachers have pledged to keep striking until they get a full $10,000 raise. "If it takes all school year, we've gotta be prepared to do it," teacher Holliebe Collins told USA Today.
Teachers in Kentucky and Arizona have also held walkouts, citing outdated textbooks and broken equipment in classrooms. In West Virginia last month, teachers went on strike for nine days, a battle that eventually ended with the educators receiving a 5 percent raise.