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Walking out on budget cuts and low pay

On Thursday, Feb. 22, West Virginia teachers went on strike for better pay and benefits. Last month, the governor granted a four percent pay increase but teachers were not satisfied. As the strike continued, schools in all 55 state counties were shut down and more than 277,000 students were affected. On March 6, the strike came to an end only after West Virginia legislators unanimously voted to raise the pay by five percent.

Meanwhile in Oklahoma, on the morning of Feb. 23, it was not the teachers who went on strike but the students. Hundreds of students in Bartlesville High School walked out of class and protested against the budget cuts proposed by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

A bill was passed by the Senate earlier that week in which about $45 million would be cut from different state agencies. The Oklahoma Department of Education will be cut by $16.2 million in the final months of the 2018 fiscal budget.

Despite the disapproval of district officials, numerous students in different school districts are staging walk-outs to protest against the new budget cuts.

Tulsa Public Schools alone lost about 35 percent of its teachers in the last two years due to low pay to out-of-state jobs or different districts. This new budget cut will not only affect the teachers but also the students as this new cut means using older textbooks and losing other school resources.

Since the mass shooting in Florida, students have been connecting the fear of school violence to the lack of funding, according to the Sand Springs Public Schools Superintendent Sherry Durkee.

As of now, Oklahoma teachers are considering a statewide walkout, according to The Hill.

The Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, the local affiliate of the Oklahoma Education Association, said in a statement that “while we are hoping to avoid the need for a teacher walk-out and district shutdown, we stand ready to support those actions should they become necessary.”