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 Oklahoma Teacher Walkout Continues/Some Take Jobs in Nearby Sta - KOAM TV 7

Oklahoma Teacher Walkout Continues/Some Take Jobs in Nearby States

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COMMERCE, OKLAHOMA -

  Thousands of Oklahoma teachers protest school funding and low wages for a second day at the state capitol.    This is the second day of the statewide teacher walkout.
          They packed the capitol and marched in the longest picket line in the history of the capitol.
          Hundreds of protesters inside the capitol building chanted loudly and held protest signs.
         
So it is  not a shock that the state struggles to keep educators within its boundaries.
That includes Jennie Butterfield. The first grade teacher in Baxter Springs, Kansas worked with thirteen students on spelling words Tuesday. Class size was one of the big drawing cards for the once  Oklahoma  teacher to work here.
Butterfield explained,
Thats even worse now than it was seven years ago. She started working in Kansas in 2011. She added, The school where my kids  go, if they have a teacher gone, then they combine classes.

 Butterfield drives just thirteen miles across the state line to work and initially  pay wasn't her biggest concern.
She said, "When I was offered the job, I took it. It
s a great opportunity to leave the  state of Oklahoma at that time and now Im a single mom. I couldn't afford  to go back."
Kansas schools pay starting teachers up to seven thousand dollars more than most Oklahoma districts. In Commerce, Oklahoma starting pay for a teacher with a basic bachelors degree and no experience is $32,600 while in Galena, Kansas it is $39,500. Starting salary in Miami, Oklahoma is $31,893. Joplin, Missouri is $35,619. Pittsburg, Kansas is $37,050 and in Baxter Springs, Kansas it is $39,000.

 

Galena superintendent Brian Smith said, I think definitely  our pays better. Theyre paid 50th in the nation. Thats really somewhat embarrassing.  I think Kansas is  37th. We'd like to do a lot better.


But salary is not the issue for Commerce, Oklahoma third grade teacher Linsey Cass who was out picketing in the rain Tuesday.  She explained,
I would like for my classroom to be fully funded where I dont have to rely on  box tops or donors choose to get the thing that I need. This is my fourth year in third grade and Im using a reading series thats now ten years old. So the students I have, have never had a new textbook in reading which is outdated with some of our standards.

Cass added, For  me its never been about salary or a pay raise. I just want our legislators in Oklahoma  to realize  that our kids deserve better. we deserve a fully funded classroom.
 

Her superintendent Jim Haynes understands the concern about supplies and class sizes. He said, They  want enough money put back into education,  so we  can re-employ those teachers we had to cut  that made our class sizes go up.
 

While the picketing  Oklahoma teachers said its not about salary, superintendents told us  it can be  a factor when theyre  trying to recruit from a shrinking pool of candidates.
Baxter Springs, Kansas school superintendent David Pendergraft said of teachers graduating college,
Many of them get certified in multiple  states.  Those teachers, to make themselves more marketable and so it gives them more options and they start looking at salary.
 

Galena superintendent Smith said, Oh yeah, its definitely a constant competition and its gonna get more difficult.
Smith said more teachers are retiring but there's not enough young teachers to replace them.
Smith explained, "We complain about public schools but yet we turn around and want public schools to solve every societal problem."


So districts need money and even more  to compete.
Joplin school district assistant superintendent for business services, Dr. Ron Lankford said,  "It really goes to the culture of the school district  and research shows that compensation  is certainly  an important factor but also the respect they (district officials) have for the job they're (teachers) doing is very vital to anyone in any profession."


Respect is something teachers and administrators said appears to be  missing in Oklahoma, particularly from lawmakers.
 

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