Kentucky, Oklahoma teachers rally as rebellion grows over education cuts

Kentucky, Oklahoma teachers rally as rebellion grows over education cuts

Kentucky, Oklahoma teachers rally as rebellion grows over education cuts

Since 2008, state funding for public schools has decreased by almost 9 percent, while student enrollment has increased by over 8 percent.

The rally was organized in response to a bill passed last Thursday by state lawmakers altering the pension benefits structure for new teachers. The rally Monday is happening after hundreds of Kentucky teachers called in sick Friday to protest last-minute changes to their pension system.

Teachers picket around the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City. "The district will be sending daily updates to all local media outlets and through the PCPS Mobile App, district website ( and Facebook page".

In addition to the outcry over the pension bill, teachers are also demanding more funding for schools to help pay for textbooks, technology and school programs.

Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler said the lawmakers' sudden reform to teachers' pensions was like a "bomb that exploded on public service". "That only hurts the kids".

Christine Wertz, a fourth grade teacher at Bixby North Intermediate, says she's grateful for the teacher raise passed last week, but teacher retention will be tough if the teaching environment is challenging with large class sizes.

"You're here for the same reason we had thousands of teachers standing at the capitol in West Virginia: You're here for the kids", Lee said to loud applause.

Last month, Education Secretary Damian Hinds pledged to cut teachers' hours and workload in a bid to tackle staff shortages in schools. The bill will boost public school teacher salaries by an average of $6,100 a year.

One teacher's husband, James Deming, created a video demonstration comparing the teacher strike to that of a firefighter. Opponents objected that the pension changes were inserted into an unrelated bill without a chance for public input, and worry that the changes will discourage young people from joining the profession.

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Several schools have said they are prepared to be closed for the rest of the week and many teachers are vowing to stay on strike until the Legislature pumps more money into school funding.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has not yet signed the bill, but last week tweeted his support, saying public workers owe "a deep debt of gratitude" to lawmakers who voted to pass it.

Thousands of protesting teachers and their supporters, many of them bused in from across the state, filled the Capitol grounds and spilled over into the surrounding streets.

NPS Superintendent Nick Migliorino said the district is encouraged by the legislature's actions over the past week, and thankful for community support. "The low pay and lack of respect for teachers is driving current teachers out of the state for other jobs out of the profession entirely".

"If legislators don't perform their civic duty correctly, then we want them to know that we are people who are in a well-educated profession who are advocates for public schools", Haynes said.

"We will remember in November", some chanted.

The funding raises by $5,000 the pay of teachers beginning their careers, and gives those with 25 years' experience a almost $8,000 raise.

"Significant revenue-raising measures were approved to make this pay raise and additional school funding possible", the Republican said in a statement.

'We've all heard stories from students, parents, and teachers affected by eleven years of cuts to our classrooms, ' Pries said. We are hopeful an extended walkout can be avoided and we can get back to doing what we do best; providing a world-class education to every student who walks through our doors. "I hope that that's the message that gets across to all citizens of the commonwealth".

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