Oklahoma teachers, who walked out of their classrooms nine days ago, have declared “victory” in their demand for higher pay and their union is calling for them to get back to work.
The New York Times notes, however, that the concessions won from the Oklahoma legislature came before the walkout. Republicans in the Senate refused to find additional sources of dollars for education.
The Times‘ Benji Hardy wrote about a planned meeting by Arkansas educators this week to discuss mass teacher protests across the nation, including the walkout in West Virginia that persuaded the Republicans in charge there to raise teacher pay, the threat of a walkout in Arizona that brought a promise of a 20 percent raise by 2020 (though the governor could not say how, since higher taxes are off the table), and actions in Kentucky.
Arkansas Education Association Executive Director Tracey-Ann Nelson told the Times that tax cuts mean “a divestment in public schools, and the impact is starting to show. … In Arkansas, we see the drip, drip, drip effect of that happening. It’s death by a thousand cuts.”
While Arkansas teachers are discussing the national situation, no strikes are anticipated. They received an $800 increase in the salary schedule in 2017 (spread over two years). But Arkansas ranks seventh lowest in the country in average teacher pay — $47,053, according to Education Week. Oklahoma ($42,647) is even worse off, coming in behind only Mississippi ($42,043).