As the Oklahoma hostage crisis continues, Sooner State Gov. Mary Fallin is saying the teachers on strike are “like a teenager wanting a better car.”
Teacher’s unions staged walkouts on Monday, despite lawmakers and the Governor adopting school financing that includes an average raise of $6,000 for teachers and $1,250 more in average in wages for support staff.
Fallin signed a massive tax increase to keep students in class, but it wasn’t enough. The hostage crisis now stretches into its third day. Media has shifted its attention from what it deemed low teacher pay to pictures of dilapidated school buildings and old textbooks.
As Trent England, the Executive Vice President of Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs puts it in a blog post, “What gives?”
“After all, the enacted raise was more than almost anybody was talking about last year. And the year before, voters refused State Question 779, a $5,000 teacher pay raise,” he writes. “Up until last week, the mantra was ‘give teachers a raise.’ This week, it has shifted to funding other things: textbooks, desks, support staff.”
England contends the teacher’s unions and lawmakers are focused on the wrong thing. In Oklahoma, the state legislature sets teacher salary schedules and sets policy that requires a majority of state funding increases go to teacher pay.
“Are local school boards and administrators so untrustworthy? The Legislature should look for ways to shift the conversation about education funding to local school districts, while ensuring transparency and basic accountability through general state laws,” he writes.
Instead, teachers are marching on the state Capitol, kids are missing valuable learning days, and taxpayers are caught in the crosshairs. It’s a cautionary tale for lawmakers in other states like Kansas, which is dealing with something of an education showdown of its own.
Paying the piper doesn’t always lead to better educational outcomes. Just ask Oklahoma students, now on their third day of school closings despite a huge tax hike, a historic teacher pay raises, and increased funding for support staff and textbooks.