Oklahoma, Kentucky teachers strike for higher pay, education funding

Teachers from across Kentucky hold up signs as they fill the state Capitol to rally for increased funding and to protest last minute changes to their state funded pension system, Monday, April 2, 2018, in Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Thousands of teachers in Kentucky and Oklahoma rallied at both state Capitols this week in an effort to get lawmakers to approve additional educational funding.

Hundreds of Oklahoma schools closed Monday when educators headed to Oklahoma City to protest, according to The Oklahoman. Many public schools planned to remain shuttered for the rest of the week as strikes continued Tuesday, The Oklahoman reported.

In Kentucky, all public schools were closed Monday, according to the Courier Journal – some because of a rally in Frankfurt, but most because of spring break.

The average teacher starting salary for the 2016-2017 school year was $38,617, according to the National Education Association. In comparison, the average starting salaries for Kentucky and Oklahoma were $36,494 and $31,919 respectively.

Here’s a look at what teachers are demanding.

What do Kentucky teachers demand?

A teacher holds up a sign during a rally at the Kentucky state Capitol in protest for increased funding and to protest last minute changes to their state funded pension system.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Hundreds of teachers in Kentucky called in sick last week to protest last-minute changes to their pension system. On Monday, thousands descended upon the state Capitol in Frankfurt to rally for additional education funding.

The Republican-controlled Kentucky House and Senate passed a surprise 291-page pension reform bill last week which, among other things, changes the pension plan for new teachers, according to the Courier Journal.

At the state Capitol, demonstrators demanded lawmakers include adequate education funding as they work on the state budget.

“We will be here watching every move legislators make,” Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association, told the Courier Journal. “If this budget is not in the best interest of public education students and public service, then we will react.”

Erica Sudduth, an elementary school teacher, told The Associated Press that frustration has been mounting for years.

“For years they have been adding more and more and more on to teachers and we have been putting up with all of it,” Sudduth, 29, said. “We have held our tongue this whole time and now it is just coming to a boiling point.”

The Kentucky Education Association Delegate Assembly met Tuesday as teachers come up with their next step, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.


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