Some Oklahoma schools stay open during teacher walkout

Tens of thousands of teachers planning massive rallies and classroom walkouts

The 28th richest person in America was there the night Oklahoma raised his taxes, and he was not happy. The bill that passed last week only partially met the teachers' demands. "They will indicate on the survey if they will be advocating for education or if they will be in the classroom on the following date".

Add in the fact that Oklahoma teachers have some of the lowest average salaries in the nation - and many districts in neighboring states, like Texas, can offer a substantial raise - and teachers have been voicing their concerns for years. But for multibillionaire Harold Hamm, it was too much. Proposals for each of these revenue sources have yet to pass through both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature. The presence of an oil field tycoon and member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame might sway enough votes to kill the bill, like all the others before it. A $1,250 increase for support staff and a raise for state employees was also a part of the bill.

Then, Woods said, as funding for teacher pay raises began progressing through the Legislature last week, "we planned to shut down Monday and then see how long the effort was going to take and what action the Legislature would take". With the end of Kentucky's legislative session looming, lawmakers returned to the capital Monday to consider new tax legislation and a budget bill that held the potential for further cuts to public education spending. She said she was protesting to keep teachers in Oklahoma instead of seeing them leave for states with higher pay.

"I have to work multiple jobs, but those kids, they don't have a choice, " said Oklahoma teacher Hannah Fernandez. Three weeks later there are 72,000.

Frank Solomon, superintendent of Noble Public Schools, said he has had to cut the speech and drama programs in his high schools and push back buying buses and air conditioners. On a list of the 50 states and Washington, DC, Oklahoma ranks 49th. Teachers, a lot of them clad in red (as part of the grassroots Wear Red for Ed campaign), later marched to the Capitol itself, filling up the rotunda outside legislative chambers and spilling out the front doors and down the steps.

She has a master's degree and 20 years' experience, but drives for Uber and helps cater weddings just to survive. They say it's all for their students. "I had to go to the ladies" room to compose myself.

"It just broke my heart", Cole said.

"I have books from 1980 and it's kind of hard when you're teaching a sixth grader and you're reading something and the facts are from the 1980s", Brooks said.

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Brooks was one of hundreds of teachers who boarded a charter bus from Remington Park to the Capitol on April 2. Without certification, they make even less than colleagues, and Turner relies on a church food pantry to eat. "If I were a legislator right now, I'd be honestly sweating bullets". Oklahoma is losing qualified teachers every day.

State troopers have been told to ration gasoline, social programs are strapped and prisons are overcrowded to risky levels.

"When I saw how many people showed up today to stand up for our children - it made me proud to be in education", Sharpe said.

Other districts reported a similar process of polling and responding to teachers' direction on which course to take Monday.

'We've all heard stories from students, parents, and teachers affected by eleven years of cuts to our classrooms, ' Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said in a Facebook video message on the eve of the walkout.

"This is the result of a decade of underfunding public schools", Garcia told CNN, speaking from the Oklahoma protest.

"It's nearly like the oil and gas people have more say than the people that actually voted (lawmakers) in", Alberto Morejon says as we stroll his campus in Stillwater.

Felder: Educator frustration in Oklahoma has been growing for years as public school funding has not kept pace with student growth. And we're here for our kids to say they need to restore those cuts.

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