OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin on Thursday evening (April 12) issued a statement on the announced end of the nine-day public school teacher walkout.
In comments sent to The City Sentinel and other news organizations, the state’s chief executive said:
“Oklahomans and our elected officials have proven they are committed to school children, teachers and educators. We appreciate our professional teachers. I’m glad teachers who participated in the union strike will return to teaching their students. They’ve been out for two weeks, and it’s time for them to get back to school. Student learning at schools affected by the strike has been halted for nearly two weeks at a critical time in the academic year when federal and state testing requirements need to be completed.
“Three weeks ago, before the walkout, I gave final approval to an historic raise for teachers, which allows for a $6,100, or 16 percent, pay raise on average. Now, Oklahoma’s teacher pay moves up from the lowest, in average teacher pay, to second in the seven-state region and up to 29th from 49th nationally. Oklahoma’s teacher-pay ranking improves to 12th in the nation when adjusted for cost of living.
“And last week I signed a bill — approved by legislators before the walkout — which allocates $2.9 billion for common education for the upcoming 2019 fiscal year, which is the largest amount ever appropriated in Oklahoma for K-12 public education and a 19.7 percent increase over this fiscal year’s appropriation for public schools.
“I am very proud that Republican lawmakers have led the way on increasing educational expenditures for Oklahoma’s students this session. In addition, they have protected Oklahomans, especially small businesses and farmers, from an irresponsible capital gains tax. The Legislature still has important work to do for the people of Oklahoma before they adjourn, including criminal justice reform and meeting the financial needs of other core services such as public safety, health and human services. I appreciate their ongoing efforts to address all of the priorities in the state.
“I want to thank the more than 100 Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers who worked long hours at the state Capitol to keep teachers, visitors and state employees safe. The state employees who work at the Capitol deserve our state’s gratitude for their service, too.”