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Oklahoma Walkout, Ottawa County Teachers Join Protest - KOAM TV 7

Oklahoma Walkout, Ottawa County Teachers Join Protest

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Around 200 schools in Oklahoma are closed today (April 2, 2018) as tens of thousands of teachers and supporters rally at the State Capitol building.

The protest comes after Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation last week granting teachers annual pay raises averaging about $6,100. While teachers acknowledge the pay increase, they say they are fighting the lack of funding for education programs and supplies. Miami, Quapaw and Commerce schools are closed through Wednesday, April 4th to allow teachers to join the rally in Oklahoma City.

Some teachers say they're ready to stay at the Capitol all week to fight for themselves and their students. Art teacher Laurissa Kovacs, with McAlester Public Schools, says her kids aren't even getting the basics at the Puterbaugh Middle School. She said she's had to bring in folding chairs from home to give her students a proper place to sit, and says she can't take the frustration any longer.

"As many of us as possible, we're gonna go to the capitol and we will rally.. And several of us are going to stay at the capitol as long as it takes," says Kovacs.

The state's largest teacher's union has made several demands, including increasing school funding by $200 million over three years and raising teachers' wages by $10,000.

Some teachers and staff in Miami stayed in town to form a protest of their own this morning. They held signs asking for help and more funding. One even held a sign reading "The future of your kids is in my classroom". (video)

Oklahoma isn't the only state struggling with teacher pay. In West Virginia, it took nine days before a teachers' strike there forced the Governor to award a 5% pay hike. In Kentucky, educators are fighting legislation that they say would disrupt their pension plans.

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