Some Schools Reopen As Oklahoma Teacher Walkout Stretches Into Day Nine

Posted April 14, 2018

Oklahoma's two largest school districts will close for the ninth consecutive day because of a teacher strike, matching the length of a walkout in West Virginia earlier this year that started a rebellion of teachers in some Republican-led states.

State lawmakers have approved almost $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.

Keri Hoffman, a 35-year-old middle school algebra teacher, told police she'd had sex multiple times with a 15-year-old student - including during the ongoing teacher walkout in the state.

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The strike is part of a wave of actions by teachers in states that have some of the lowest per-student spending in the country.

Governor Mary Fallin has already approved legislation that would raise teachers' wages an average of $6,100, while teachers who packed the state Capitol on Tuesday want a $10,000 raise over three years. On Monday, they said they needed $50 million.

Fallin also approved a bill that repealed a hotel tax, a measure that teachers wanted vetoed.

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"The governor and lawmakers keep closing the door on revenue options when Oklahomans are asking for a better path forward", said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest union for teachers with about 40,000 members.

Teachers, students and others from across the state have been protesting in the state Capitol and elsewhere for more than a week demanding increased education funding.

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

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