Oklahoma teachers planning to strike

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Oct 30, 2007
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Consolidating school districts means giving up local control. Small school districts from small communities in Oklahoma are fiercely independent, and will fight to remain so. If you've never been through a consolidation, you don't really know what it's like.

If you've never had to get on a bus at the age of 8 or 9 and ride for an hour and a half one way because your local school consolidated, you don't know what it's like either.

There isn't a quick easy fix, like, say, "get rid of the supe and there's money for everyone!"
There are places in the state where the population is so spread out that consolidation isn't really an option without having kids on school buses for a long time. But there are also places where consolidation would be simple and easy. I live in Cushing and Ripley, Agra, Yale, & Drumright are all a 10-15 minute drive away. There are a lot of places like this where consolidation could save a lot of money without hurting the students.

Consolidation won't fix the problem, but it could be part of the overall solution.
 

GodsPeace

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First let me say, that I have always been extremely impressed by you and your wife, I think you are incredible people with all that you've done, none of that is bs it as sincere a compliment as I can offer, but I think it's important to separate the two (personal and professional) if you (in this case I) are going to ask a question that comes off as if not mean, certainly inconsiderate and that is what I am about to do.

When you joined the teaching ranks were you aware of the wages (not just in Ok but nationwide) have the wages, in comparison to other professions you considered, shifted substantially since you joined the ranks, are you surprised at what has transpired both in your chosen profession but also in the profession you decided not to go with, It's my understanding that most of the workers in state gvt in Ok have seen less than avg pay increases, but that may not be accurate. I have enormous sympathy when teachers are forced to dig into their own pockets to pay for classroom materials, so for this discussion I am leaving that out (fair or not), I actually think most of that burden should fall on the parents when they can afford it and if not then the state and or district should have a fund to pull from but it should never be a teachers burden. I, otoh, have a hard time conjuring up sympathy when someone decides to pursue a profession, when they know going in what the parameters are. I also wonder where teachers in Ok believe their pay should rank, in a cola environment Ok teachers are lo-mid 30's, nothing to write home about but a far cry from the 49 that is being used in most places I see. I know everyone wants to be #1 but seriously where do you think the majority of your colleagues think their pay should rank again using cola as the l.o.d.
There is nothing sneaky in this, that is a sincere question, even today, the concerns about teacher pay (almost universally) are well known all the way through to the students, because in many cases the teachers are using the students to further their cause, I think that's horrible but it seems to be the approach many (not all) use.

Given all that, why are people still lining up to be teachers, if teachers really want to impact pay it would seem that the better way, rather than jeopardizing their integrity, would be to warn everyone to stay away from teaching. If there are no teachers due to pay then, if schools are deemed to be important, pay will have to rise and where it rises the most or where it is prioritized, is where the most (and likely best) teachers will gravitate. That is certainly the long game but it is also pretty much the only way to actually fix whatever is broken.

I would also ask the residents of the state where they want to see cuts or what level of taxation they are prepared for, I have stated many times that since I don't see the state (local, state or fed) being a good steward of my money that I have and will never vote for a tax increase regardless of the cause so for me it would be entirely based on where I would want cuts, politician salaries wouldn't be a gnat on a fly's a$$ so let's not use that.
It would appear (imo) that Ok, very much like our fed gvt, has a large number of non-essential workers perhaps a ballot measure driven by the teachers on administrative costs (aae) could have a very positive impact.

I am truly curious about your thoughts on all this.

As to the pay. You would have look far and wide to find me overtly complaining about the pay. I came into this eyes wide open. The pay scale was known to me ahead of time and there was no promise of it improving. I still took on doing this job. That is why I don't complain. I make fun of it all the time, but for me it is often a joke at myself and why I'd choose to do this at all.

That said, as a High School Social Studies Teacher, I have not had to spend near the money a lot of elementary teachers do. I have spent the last 5+ yrs at a school that is very well funded for our size. I know a lot of teachers(K-12) that go deep in their own pockets to provide things for their students. Here, every student has a laptop, and basic resources are available with relative ease. I haven't bought new books in a while but that was a choice at the time that had little to do with money. My situation isn't typical. Where I was before, funding was scarce and teachers were all very much investing out of pocket heavily. The issue here is funding has been cut statewide, increasing the burden on teachers financially to support their classrooms utlimately making the wages we earn worth less and less. I haven't checked lately but my schedule raise is usually between $300-600 annually.

I don't think anyone is expecting Oklahoma to compete directly with Texas in wages. Texas is a much larger state with a far greater tax base than in Oklahoma. The state has gone back and forth on this idea of raises. One of the issues is the ever changes standards, the ever shifting bar or success, and then lack of support in general for public schools. While we cannot pay what Texas does, there need be something done to stop the bleeding of teachers out of state. I don't know what the numbers are, but OSU graduates a ton of teachers every year, and they are increasingly leaving the state right out of college. That may not register with some of you, but I have seen that 1500 or so alternative certifications had to be done to simply fill the open teaching positions for this school year.

Math and Science teachers are not easy to find at all. Same with Special Ed teachers. Every district I have looked at is hiring bus drivers. I have driven a bus 9 of my 11 yrs teaching. At my last job that made up 25% of my pay. My bigger concern is schools being able to pay support staff better(including bus drivers).

Where to find the money? Hell if I know. People throw around a lot of numbers and percentages and what not, but most of that is Greek to me. I think teachers have a solid complaint that our legislature ranks 15th in pay nationally while our teachers rank last. I think teachers will continue to bleed out the door(not good riddance we need good teachers) until something is done that makes staying in Oklahoma more attractive. Less and less in simply staying home a selling point. I'm one of the few that loves Oklahoma enough to stay almost regardless. My wife, though, she'd vastly prefer Arkansas or Colorado. That has less to do with teacher pay than she thinks both are much more beautiful places to live. Colorado does pay better though.

This is probably all over the place, and for that I am sorry. I'm doing a lot of things simaltaneously, but I don't believe I have a lot of answers for all that you raised.

Quick summary:

I don't complain about pay much. I actually get tired of hearing it, but I recognize that it is becoming an ever increasing burden and impediment to keeping good teachers.

The cost of being a teacher are rising with expectations.

I have no clue how you'd raise the money. I like the sales tax idea, but that get muddle up too. I would gladly forego a raise so schools could afford to pay support staff better( and I don't mean coaches).
 

kaboy42

Territorial Marshal
May 2, 2007
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So, you think the people of Tushka should give up and give their school to Atoka? Within 5 years,Tushka is just a memory and a truck stop. That's how it's happening. I've seen it. When did you last drive through Tupelo? Or Lehigh?
Agree. There's a crapton of politics in all of this as well... AND communities/populations that honestly don't like each other enough to even consider consolidation. The communities would become enraged, literally.

Not even in the realm of possibility due to current size, but just try to force two bitter rivals like Morris and Henryetta to consolidate (just an example).

Some consolidations make sense. District or Regional School Admin may even make sense. But there are a lot of rural areas where consolidation will make no sense.
 

ksupoke

We don't need no, thot kuntrol
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As to the pay. You would have look far and wide to find me overtly complaining about the pay. I came into this eyes wide open. The pay scale was known to me ahead of time and there was no promise of it improving. I still took on doing this job. That is why I don't complain. I make fun of it all the time, but for me it is often a joke at myself and why I'd choose to do this at all.

That said, as a High School Social Studies Teacher, I have not had to spend near the money a lot of elementary teachers do. I have spent the last 5+ yrs at a school that is very well funded for our size. I know a lot of teachers(K-12) that go deep in their own pockets to provide things for their students. Here, every student has a laptop, and basic resources are available with relative ease. I haven't bought new books in a while but that was a choice at the time that had little to do with money. My situation isn't typical. Where I was before, funding was scarce and teachers were all very much investing out of pocket heavily. The issue here is funding has been cut statewide, increasing the burden on teachers financially to support their classrooms utlimately making the wages we earn worth less and less. I haven't checked lately but my schedule raise is usually between $300-600 annually.

I don't think anyone is expecting Oklahoma to compete directly with Texas in wages. Texas is a much larger state with a far greater tax base than in Oklahoma. The state has gone back and forth on this idea of raises. One of the issues is the ever changes standards, the ever shifting bar or success, and then lack of support in general for public schools. While we cannot pay what Texas does, there need be something done to stop the bleeding of teachers out of state. I don't know what the numbers are, but OSU graduates a ton of teachers every year, and they are increasingly leaving the state right out of college. That may not register with some of you, but I have seen that 1500 or so alternative certifications had to be done to simply fill the open teaching positions for this school year.

Math and Science teachers are not easy to find at all. Same with Special Ed teachers. Every district I have looked at is hiring bus drivers. I have driven a bus 9 of my 11 yrs teaching. At my last job that made up 25% of my pay. My bigger concern is schools being able to pay support staff better(including bus drivers).

Where to find the money? Hell if I know. People throw around a lot of numbers and percentages and what not, but most of that is Greek to me. I think teachers have a solid complaint that our legislature ranks 15th in pay nationally while our teachers rank last. I think teachers will continue to bleed out the door(not good riddance we need good teachers) until something is done that makes staying in Oklahoma more attractive. Less and less in simply staying home a selling point. I'm one of the few that loves Oklahoma enough to stay almost regardless. My wife, though, she'd vastly prefer Arkansas or Colorado. That has less to do with teacher pay than she thinks both are much more beautiful places to live. Colorado does pay better though.

This is probably all over the place, and for that I am sorry. I'm doing a lot of things simaltaneously, but I don't believe I have a lot of answers for all that you raised.

Quick summary:

I don't complain about pay much. I actually get tired of hearing it, but I recognize that it is becoming an ever increasing burden and impediment to keeping good teachers.

The cost of being a teacher are rising with expectations.

I have no clue how you'd raise the money. I like the sales tax idea, but that get muddle up too. I would gladly forego a raise so schools could afford to pay support staff better( and I don't mean coaches).
I knew there's a reason I liked you, this is a really good answer and there's no arguing any of it.

Here's my rub, as I've stated in almost every post, there is no way a teacher should have to dig into their own pocket to fund the advancement of education, I would include advanced training seminars and the like in that as well.
On this forum so far it has been nearly unanimous that this was not about pay but about funding for the classroom and that most teachers would forgo a raise for that.
However in the interview with the head of the union (I think) when asked what they want, he said - we have to have $10k for teachers and SOME for the classroom, iow we demand a raise and would like money for the class. So the union is literally at odds with what most affected on here are saying and again work stoppages, strikes, threats are short game plays - the teachers will be back in 3 years saying the same thing, the longer it goes the less effect it has.
The union head has now answered the other question I posed, at $10k that would put Ok teachers at 23 in pay in the 3rd (or some places it shows 5th) lowest cost of living state in the US, so on a cola adjusted basis that puts Ok teachers in or just outside the t10, nothing wrong with that but I think it's important because in any private sector job, I've been associated with, if you are t10 in pay you better be t10 in performance so if I were a parent in Ok I would be watching closely.
There are ways to pay but as with anything in life there are sacrifices (read: votes) elsewhere that have to be made and that usually means deficit spending vs cost cutting, and we are back to the short game that puts us back here in 3 years.
I also hope the Ok teachers union sees that benefit to the new tax plan because the 'real' impact of a $10k raise is now much greater than it was but I doubt they will and that is unfortunate.

I would like to see the union take a more sports union approach, it would be better for all, pick a % of education spending in Ok, the teachers salaries and classroom funding have to be 28% but no more than 40% (the numbers are just plucked out of thin air but I think you get the gist) of that figure so that sets a floor for all, at that point, teachers who feel they are worth more, can negotiate with the district to up to the ceiling, that would also generate incentive, the idea of merit pay becomes viable.

BTW, jmo, the public education system not just in Ok but nationwide is irreversibly broken (there's no blame per se, but it's broke), it hasn't changed much since its inception, it needs to be completely overhauled, that's not saying dump it and go all private or all home, I would disagree, that's saying it needs a deep dive repair.
 

wrenhal

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Aug 11, 2011
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The strike date is April 23

The school my sister is principal at has their last day of school May 4th.

There is no way that school strikes that close to graduation. The parents will not be happy with that.

Talked to her for a second and she said she could use the 5 snow days they have left to get them almost up to graduation. So they plan on getting all finals out of the way by the 23rd just in case.
May 4th is an early last day. Shoot, that even earlier than my oldest daughters last finals at OSU. Think schools around Tulsa have final day during last week of May.
My wife just read that Pawnee(I think) has a 4 day school week and they'll still be finishing up the last week of April. They are having a couple of make up days on Fridays for the missed school dates because of the ice and that's it. So this date will sit right in the lead up to graduation there as well.

Sent from my Moto G Play using Tapatalk
It's apparently Pawnee and they end school on the 27th.

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Nov 8, 2007
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@ksupoke - My jaw hit the floor when they said they DEMAND a $10k raise.

Everything you said is true for my area as well. Every teacher I've talked to has said they would forgo the raise if they didn't have to pay out of pocket for stuff. But now the OEA comes in and says TEACHER RAISE...that's all anyone will hear.
 

OrangeAggie

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Feb 6, 2004
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@ksupoke - My jaw hit the floor when they said they DEMAND a $10k raise.

Everything you said is true for my area as well. Every teacher I've talked to has said they would forgo the raise if they didn't have to pay out of pocket for stuff. But now the OEA comes in and says TEACHER RAISE...that's all anyone will hear.
Demanding a $10k raise means they will accept a $5k raise. That's more than reasonable considering teacher salaries in this state have been stagnant since 2008.
 

Binman4OSU

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Aug 31, 2007
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I saw last night some discussions were being made by the legislature to make Teachers Income tax exempt in the state or increasing their deductions as a teacher as alternatives to giving them a raise
 
Mar 11, 2006
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Demanding a $10k raise means they will accept a $5k raise. That's more than reasonable considering teacher salaries in this state have been stagnant since 2008.
Their annual raises are definitely low, but not stagnant. Teachers average a raise of 1.2% annually based on agreed up pay scale. Also, this has been adjusted over the years so the percentage is actually slightly higher.
 

oks10

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Sep 9, 2007
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That’s too bad. OEA definitely has a different views of teacher responsibilities than what many teachers believe.
I think they will see less than the 25% of districts participating than they saw with OEA’s 1990 strike.
Then it's a very silent majority that opposes what they're doing... This has literally been the only social site that I've seen people (especially educators) being against what's being proposed. My facebook is flooded with people that are in support of it, both teachers and not. Just out of curiosity, how big of a school district is your family involved with? It seems to me that this is something that is going to be mostly supported by the larger districts more so than the it will the smaller ones.
 

ksupoke

We don't need no, thot kuntrol
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@ksupoke - My jaw hit the floor when they said they DEMAND a $10k raise.

Everything you said is true for my area as well. Every teacher I've talked to has said they would forgo the raise if they didn't have to pay out of pocket for stuff. But now the OEA comes in and says TEACHER RAISE...that's all anyone will hear.
There's a site that many recruitment firms use to get a back of the napkin comparison, you can put in any 2 cities and get cost adjusted salary information, certainly it's not perfect but it is pretty accurate.
So in W.V aae if you live on the Md border you make roughly 30% less than your Md counterpart on the other side of the border but your col is dramatically less - rent for a 2br apartment (the standard benchmark) is 50% higher for those 20 miles. Meaning the $20k increase you get is entirely wiped away by the difference just in renting.
Take a look and plug in any cities you want
https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=$80000+salary+oklahoma+city+to+san+francisco
 
Mar 11, 2006
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Then it's a very silent majority that opposes what they're doing... This has literally been the only social site that I've seen people (especially educators) being against what's being proposed. My facebook is flooded with people that are in support of it, both teachers and not. Just out of curiosity, how big of a school district is your family involved with? It seems to me that this is something that is going to be mostly supported by the larger districts more so than the it will the smaller ones.
My wife teaches and I coach in one of the largest suburban school districts in the Tulsa metro area.
 
Mar 11, 2006
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Huh. That's interesting. It seemed like "Tulsa" (generally speaking) was a big driver in all of this going down.
I agree, but I think that was mostly from Tulsa Public Schools. And it appears Union PS as well.
I know TPS’s superintendent Deborah Gist was one of the proponents of “working the contract”work plan.
 

PirateRodeo

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Their annual raises are definitely low, but not stagnant. Teachers average a raise of 1.2% annually based on agreed up pay scale. Also, this has been adjusted over the years so the percentage is actually slightly higher.
Yeah that pay scale technically exists, but is never actually paid out. I taught in OK from 2009-2014 and never once received a "step" increase. Some places may have been able to give them since, but I doubt that's true for the majority of districts.
 

GodsPeace

Joshua 1:9
Aug 20, 2004
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Yeah that pay scale technically exists, but is never actually paid out. I taught in OK from 2009-2014 and never once received a "step" increase. Some places may have been able to give them since, but I doubt that's true for the majority of districts.
I have recieved my step increase every year. Some years it was $300, some $500. That is it.