By Ian Sloan 4/6/2018
Teachers in Oklahoma remained on strike for the fifth day, bringing attention to the state’s rift with public school teachers. Oklahoma lawmakers approved an additional $40 million in public school funding, but officials from the Oklahoma Education Association say this is not enough to stop the walkout from continuing to next week.
Governor Mary Fallin has received most of the criticism from teachers. Many blame the governor for supporting tax cuts and generous state subsidies for businesses that they claim have led to a decline in state funding for public education and other state services. Governor Fallin caused further anger when she was quoted in an interview with CBS News comparing the striking teachers to a “teenage kid that wants a better car.” Dozens of protesters who packed the Oklahoma city Capitol responded by jangling their keys in the rotunda chanting “where’s our car?”
The Republican governor, in her final year, has had little success recently pushing her agenda, despite overwhelming GOP majorities in both houses. Her plan to increase the sales tax to raise wages for teachers fell flat in the legislature last year. The governor eventually signed legislation last week granting teachers pay raises of about $6,100, or 15-18 percent.
Oklahoma is the second state faced with striking teachers this year. West Virginia teachers won a 5 percent pay increase after striking for nine days. That ignited protests in other Republican-led states, including Kentucky and Arizona.