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'Momentum is on our side,' Oklahoma teachers union leader declares

From Reuters - April 10, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma teachers carried their walkout over school funding and higher pay into a ninth day on Tuesday as a union leader declared that educators had the advantage of momentum in a battle with the Republican-dominated state legislature.

State lawmakers have approved nearly $450 million in new taxes and other revenues to help fund teachers raise pay and boost other education spending since the walkout began on April 2, but the union is pushing for more action to raise overall spending by $600 million each year.

Momentum is our on side, president Alicia Priest said in a video posted late Monday night on the Oklahoma Education Associations Facebook page.

The walkout closed public schools serving about 500,000 of the states 700,000 students on Monday, and schools in the states largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, were shut again on Tuesday.

The Oklahoma strike comes amid a wave of action by teachers in states where budgets have been slashed, as measured by per-student spending, over the past decade.

The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Oklahomas inflation-adjusted per student funding fell by 28.2 percent between 2008 and 2018, the biggest reduction of any state.

A West Virginia strike last month ended with a pay raise for teachers. Educators in other states, increasingly angry over stagnating wages, are also considering walk-outs.

Opponents of the Oklahoma tax hikes say lawmakers could bolster education spending by cutting bureaucracy and waste rather than raising taxes.

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