Teachers In Kentucky, Arizona, Oklahoma Take Action For Better Pay

OKLAHOMA CITY — Teachers across the country are staging protests, looking for better pay and pensions. In Kentucky, schools were closed Friday after hundreds of teachers refused to show up. In Arizona, thousands marched this week on the State Capitol. In Oklahoma, they’re threatening to walk off the job on Monday.

This comes about a month after West Virginia teachers shut down schools for nearly two weeks.

“Teachers just learn to survive. I’d like to eventually have a month where I don’t have to look at my checking my bank account on a daily basis,” said Brian Davis, a geography teacher in Bartlesville.

The father of two is also a pitching coach, for $25 a session. All the while, he’s a driver for Uber, sometimes working as late as 2 a.m.

“The hours that I am putting in, I don’t think I can sustain for much longer,” Davis said.

All of the sacrifices he’s making is to provide for his family.

“That’s one of the things I’ve worried about the most. My kids, and the struggles that they’ve had,” Davis said. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve missed with them.”

This week, in an effort to avert a strike, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin agreed to give teachers a $6,000 raise.

But Alicia Preist, the president of the largest teachers group in Oklahoma, says it’s too little, too late.

“So 10,000 over three years was what our ask was,” Preist said. “But more importantly it’s the funding costs for our schools.”

But some educators aren’t happy with the leadership of the teacher’s group. Oklahoma ranks 49th in the country for teacher’s pay. Preist defended the group against allegations that they’re part of the problem.

“I am supporting what the majority of our members are wanting to do and that’s the way we move forward,” she said.

Oklahoma teachers plans to walk out on Monday.

“April 3rd, April 4th, April 5th, whenever our members, we’re a member driven organization so when our members say that it’s time to go back to the classrooms then that’s what will happen,” Preist said.

“I would like to get to the point where I am not juggling so much,” said Davis. “I didn’t think I would be rich, but I did think I would be able to support a family.”

Oklahoma City and Tulsa schools, the state’s two largest districts, have already cancelled classes for Monday in anticipation of the walk out.